kings college hospital gig

King’s College Hospital, London.

Why I am Frightened of Going into Hospital. Part One.

It was the pain from the cold that woke me. That, and EDS’ ability to withstand knock out drugs. I tried to raise my head and look around. Lying in a huge corridor and listening to a conversation between staff members going on so close I couldn’t avoid it, I’m shaking with the temperature.

I tried to turn my head to where the voices are. I had wanted to ask them to shut the door. My mouth opened to speak, no sound came out of me. My eyes met with a heavy set woman, looking at me. She was in nurse’s uniform, standing at the side of my narrow bed.

I looked around at my surroundings. There were twenty to thirty beds with bodies on. Some were so close to me I could have reached out and touched them, others were like boats in a harbour floating away, down the corridor. Barges of sleeping bodies. They were all pale, some grey and older and some more pinkish and young. All of us in surgical gowns of white with pokka dots.

Our gowns were all in different positions, but everyone’s knees, feet and arms were bare. The door at the end of the corridor was open and staff were coming and going through it dressed in heavy coats with bags, chatting to each other and banging the beds as they passed.

I was very cold, and I was shivering and in pain. I became concerned that I would get very ill if left too much longer in the environment and was feeling quite vulnerable, being undressed and all with strangers going passed. Also, I was a little worried why I couldn’t talk, my throat being completely blocked.

Needing to get a blanket on me, I raised my head and tried to talk but just a funny squeak came from my throat.  I was completely shocked when the woman beside me put a hard mask over my face and forced my head back onto the bed. All done without a word. Unfortunately, the mask was placed down on the ridge on my nose, a little too high for my prominent nose.

With nose squashed and mouth not working properly, the mask was now blocking off my air.  I tried to breathe in through my mouth, over and over again, but something was wrong. As I was breathing in, my mouth and cheeks were being sucked up into the mask like I was stuck in a plastic bag.

The more I breathed in the more the mask just came towards me. I raised my hand but gained no attention, so I put my hands up to grab hold of the bottom of the mask, I wanted to remove it, and breathe again. That’s when I felt another pair of hands hold my arms down by my sides.

So, many things were running through my head, mainly trying not to panic. I now had two nurses, both larger than me, holding a mask on my face and I couldn’t breathe. Neither of them was saying anything to me and I couldn’t talk. I tried to move my head from side to side to dislodge the mask, but couldn’t. Then I decided to just stay calm so maybe they would release it.

I looked around at the first nurse, deep into her black eyes and pleaded with her as best as I could…asking, “why?” silently with my soul… I can feel my lips and cheeks sucking up against the hard plastic around my face and realise I’m going to die as the pain in my chest is burning from lack of air. I can feel little pop sounds in my lungs and ears.

It’s amazing how much you can think in a moment. I realised that it had to be obvious I’m not breathing properly as there is no gap between my face and the mask. It is so hard on my face that my facial skin is stuck to the inside and I can no longer pull breaths as the bottom half of my face is glued to the inside of the mask in a vacuum.

No response. She just stared back at me with nothing. Then self-preservation set in.

I bring my legs up and attempt to kick the pair of them in their heads, to get the mask off. I may be ill but when you think your life in on the line it’s surprising the amount of strength you have. In fact, fighting is one of the few things where being hypermobiles can be an advantage. Our range of movement from a cold start is amazing, and I was able to get a hand under the mask.

The struggle continued for some time with me gaining the odd breath between them forcing the mask back on. My voice, although not working, is making a strange sort of noise, high pitched very quiet squeaks and I kept trying to look in their faces but my head kept being forced back.

Someone came to try and hold my legs, and another person held my shoulders, and then I really went nuts because I thought they will kill me! I was then fighting in the air above the bed with them, I was moving around so fast…I wriggling and kicking out hard in every direction.

Obviously, I came off worse with a damaged nose and bruising all around my throat, neck, shoulders, arms and legs although I didn’t know it at the time. What did happen at the time, was the ‘struggle’ did get attention. One of the men I had kicked, shouted at me, it caused an anaesthetist, in a white lab coat to come out of one of the rooms and shout, ‘what’s going on here?’

I’m grateful he did.  As he introduced himself, the first nurse backed away from my side, reached down under me and turned something – almost instantly, I could smell something coming through the mask lying near my face. I looked at her and she looked straight back at me.

As I was breathing fine without, I indicated that I didn’t want the mask. It was then I was informed that my oxygen levels had been low, so I had to have the mask on. I was obviously visibly upset but I still couldn’t talk or explain what had happened.

The anaesthetist stayed with me whilst I calmed. He told me my throat was sore from having a pipe down it during my surgery. He watched the original nurse place the mask back on my face and then he showed her how to do it properly without blocking off my nose.

After the white coated hero had left the first nurse looked down at me, telling me she hadn’t had a break for seven hours…

Thankfully, although I did want to say plenty to her, I still couldn’t speak.