Pleurisy.

My son, my doggie, and I on Christmas night.

*disclaimer, talk of bodily fluids and yucky stuff*

Around a month ago, I became really sick with a cold, which then turned into the flu. “No Biggie, right? I’ve been through worse.” I said to myself. Then, I caught food poisoning from a prawn korma I ordered at the Indian. After a weekend of continuous anti sickness medications, not being able to eat or sleep, I finally stopped feeling so sick. Then, I got a really nasty cough and started coughing up green gunk. At this point, I was exhausted and started getting a really sore chest. I was crying myself to sleep but couldn’t sleep for long. I was up all night coughing, coughing all day, and every breath was agony.

I made a call and trip to a GP, who said it was just viral and would ease in a week. I got worse and although I explained I didn’t think it was viral, I took their word as they know best and tried to handle it best as I could with steam cups, hot drinks, regular paracetamol, steaming in the bath or shower and trying to rest as I was physically bed bound. A couple of days later, I called again and said I was really not doing good with hot and cold sweats, the pain was awful, feeling sick, feeling dizzy, off my food, weak and extremely tired. This GP knew me really well and so, said that if no improvement in 24 hours to take antibiotics (I always have a box at home for emergencies such as out of hours situations or on weekends as the ones I can take have to be ordered in and hard to access otherwise.) By 1am, I got a whole lot worse, I felt like I had water in my lungs and called the NHS 24 for advice and a gmed called and told me to take antibiotics immediately for a chest infection and that should I become worse that I had open access to that A and E all night if needed.

I took my antibiotics, a 5 day course, and didn’t feel better until day 5. On day 7, I got worse again, but this time, my pain was different and in a different place. I thought, “I’ve probably just pulled a muscle from coughing so much,” and again, I did my best to deal with this at home. I have medical PTSD and anxiety, so going to the hospital for me is quite traumatic, and I try to avoid it at all costs. This is because I have such a complex medical history that the “normal” observations the hospital does for so many people on the daily don’t show with me unless I become tachycardiac. I waited it out, and my partner went back to work as we could not afford for him to stay off anymore. Big mistake. I ended up calling my friend Kate one morning in tears from the pain, and I could barely move, and I was struggling just to do normal tasks. I started to become really pale and felt so dizzy that I very nearly passed out. I had already called the Dr that morning who made me an appointment for the afternoon, for when my partner got home, but I really was getting worse by the minute. My friend is a trained nurse and told me to call 999 (after arguing about it for 15 minutes as I felt I was wasting their time!)

The ambulance came, and like my GP suspected, they thought perhaps a blood clot, broken rib, or ruptured rib muscle. The ride to the hospital was the longest, or what felt like was the longest. I cried the whole way there, in pain, worried about my son (who was with my dad and dad in law), feeling immense guilt that I am a bad mum, worried I was going to die and never seen my son again. So many awful thoughts ran through my mind. Once we arrived at the hospital, it was absolutely insane there. People in beds in the corridors hooked up to IV fluid bags, the waiting room completely full, and family rooms used as extra waiting rooms. Because of this, ambulance staff had to wait in the carpark with patients until they were called in to be seen. There were five other ambulances waiting with people to be seen at the same time as everyone inside the hospital and myself.

The ambulance crew was absolutely amazing. Brian (the driver) went and got me a cup of tea and the lady (I can’t remember her name) got me some paracetamol and they really made sure I was at ease and looked after me, taking me to the toilet and waiting for me outside and the lady also got me a sanitary pad as whilst being poorly, my period decided to start too!! After four hours, I was seen and had an ECG, blood tests, and x-ray all before 5 pm. I then had to wait in the corridor on a bed for the results, which took hours due to the demand of patients coming in. After some time, the lovely doctor who first saw me came over and sat with me to explain I had something called Pleurisy, where fluid gathers in between the lining of your lungs, which mine was in my left lung.

I went home with my partner and son picking me up and tried to rest as best as I could. My partner still had to work, and by Christmas Eve, I was really unwell again and unable to breathe without agony. I called 111, who told me to go straight to a and e, as they thought my lung had collapsed. Prior to calling that morning, I had a coughing fit and heard a very loud snap noise in my chest and shoulder and could barely move or breathe from the pain. My dad came over to help with my son until my partner got home, and then my dad toom me straight to a and e but at a different hospital that was more equipped to my complex health needs and where all my primary care is. I went through the same process but with far lesser waiting times and was told it was still the Pleurisy and that they think I had dislocated my shoulder from coughing, and it had popped back in again. As I was recently diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, it’s not uncommon to happen with this condition.

I was told I MUST rest properly or that it will not get better and that it takes 4-6 weeks to do so. I was so upset and worried that Christmas day would be ruined by my ill health and wouldn’t be so special for my son. Thankfully, with good rest and taking my time to get ready, we made Christmas day so special at my inlaws. It was a tiring and painful day, but I made sure to take my time and not push myself too hard, and I’ve been resting as much as possible ever since and also feeling so thankful for a lovely Christmas day with such lovely presents from everyone. It has been and will be a hard recovery, I can’t wait until I’m no longer in pain.

If you feel unwell with similar symptoms or have recently had a chest infection and have been struggling like me, please don’t leave it and get seen. You can find information on pleurisy by clicking here, which will take you directly to the NHS website.

I hope you all enjoy the festive period and wish you all a very, very happy new year for when it comes! Best wishes and health to all!

-Alannah.

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2 thoughts on “Pleurisy.

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  1. I feel so immensely for you I had this too about two weeks ago now, and felt so bad I actually thought I’d broke ribs but knew I hadn’t once I got to the hospital I was told I needed a Ct scan with dye as I was being suspected to have a blood clot on my lungs it’s bloody frightening xx

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    1. It’s so awful and really puts a strain on your body and mental health. I was the same literally thought I had broken a rib! They then thought blood clot too but thankfully all clear in the PE blood test, ECG and x-ray. Super lucky! Very frightening experience for me too, hopefully neither of us gets it again. xx

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