Thursday, 20 March 2014

Iceland and Birthday Adventures

I hope you'll excuse my lack of posts recently, it's been quite a busy month, to say the least! I actually wrote this post a couple of weeks ago so I hope you won't mind being a bit behind the times until I feel like I can write about what has happened to me more recently.

As I hinted at in my last post I had a rather special birthday week planned. I was off to Iceland to see the Northern Lights! Well, 'best laid plans!' but the main thing is I managed to get there. I went on holiday and had a brilliant time! Better than that, we saw the Northern Lights three times! The bad news is that I was unfortunately not feeling very healthy for the majority of the trip. But in a few months time, I won't remember how ill I felt, I'll only remember the brilliant things I saw and above all the Northern Lights, which I've been dreaming of seeing since at the age of thirteen I read Philip Pullman's Northern Lights and read his description of the phenomenon. We saw them first from the plane just as we were approaching Iceland, I had the most perfect view of them from my seat and being so close I could see exactly how the green bands of light were quivering in the sky. It was beautiful! You can certainly see where Philip Pullman got the idea of the Northern Lights being a portal to another world. The next day we went on a special trip to see them, and after the tour guide spent twenty minutes telling us we probably weren't going to see them, I shouted out that they were right ahead of us. We stopped on the top of a mountain and managed to watch them for a few minutes before we were blown away by the bitter wind. It looked particularly special with the silhouette of the snow-capped mountains on the horizon. Then we went off outside of the city, to a dark hillside where we could sit in the couch and see them from the warmth, which was brilliant for me as standing out in the cold and the wind was starting to have an effect on my chest. We were there for three hours and the lights were showing the entire time. We were very lucky to see them so much. We didn't manage to get our own photos of the lights because you have to have your camera set up just right to be able to capture them and we decided it was a better use of our time to sit and watch them rather than fiddle about with cameras in the dark. The tour guide took lots of photos and she emailed them over to us so you'll be able to see how wonderful they were.

As you can see, they are pretty incredible!

The next day, we were only there two full days as we landed late on the first day and set off very early on the last day, we went on a trip around the Icelandic "countryside" where they have a distinct lack of greenery. It's mostly desert land at this time of year but apparently the whole landscape is covered in green moss in the summer but they don't have much in the way of flowers or trees. We had a private tour in a taxi as I wasn't feeling too well it would be a lot easier than a whole day couch trip, which would have worn me out a bit too much. At this point my breathing was very bad and I couldn't stand up without getting breathless and all my muscles were floppy and useless. We saw the main cites, the geezers (I stayed in the car for that one) and the waterfalls, which were amazing.

On the plane back though my breathing was getting ridiculous so we went straight to A&E as soon as we got back, which was about four 0'clock in the afternoon despite leaving the hotel at five in the morning. I mentioned in my last post that my 'women's problem' had gone mental for the last few weeks and while it slowed down just before I went on holiday, it started again on the first day in Iceland. I had lost such a vast amount of blood that I was very anemic and my heart was really struggling to keep up, which was causing fluid to build up in my lungs and causing me to feel pretty run down and breathless. So they wanted to keep me in overnight. I wasn't brilliantly happy with this as the next day happened to be my 21st birthday. But there wasn't much I could do about that, I needed to be in hospital so my mum and boyfriend brought all my presents into hospital in the morning and arranged a steady stream of visitors for the day. Unfortunately my body had other ideas for the day. I'd just managed to open all of the lovely presents and cards my mum and boyfriend had brought in when my stomach started to ache and I was starting to feel a bit odd, lightheaded and just not quite myself. I thought maybe I just needed the bathroom but after sitting on the loo for ten minutes the pain just seemed to be getting worse. By the time I was back in bed it literally felt like my stomach was about to split open, or like someone had stuck a vacuum into my stomach and was sucking up all my organs. It was the most pain I've ever had, much worse than both my Pulmonary Embolism (which had previously held the title of most pain ever) and my Lung Haemorrhage (which surprisingly didn't hurt much, but sounds quite extreme) and the times I've had my sternum broken open during open heart surgery, not to mention all the chest pain I get, I would say I have quite a good pain threshold but I was screaming like a baby with that stomach pain.

I must say doctors are surprisingly rubbish at dealing with ill people, considering that's quite a big portion of their job. The doctor they got to take a look at me just said, 'stop screaming and tell me what's wrong' as if it was that easy. My mum and my boyfriend were standing right there and he didn't think, oh she seems a bit preoccupied at the moment maybe they know what's going on! I think he was a bit out of his depth as a cardiac doctor and called the gynecology doctors who were in the middle of surgery so couldn't come down straight away. They gave me tramadol, oramorph and IV morphine, which I can't say had much impact on the pain but made me so exhausted I couldn't scream as loud. They moved me to a private room (funny how those rooms suddenly become free as soon as you start making a noise) and kept me drugged up too much to know what was going on. Then the gynecology doctors turned up and did what I will describe no more than 'examined' me (ouch!) and said there was so much clotted blood in my womb that my body had started having child-birth like contractions to try and push it out. Even though the pains weren't coming and going like contractions, all the muscles involved were doing the same thing as they would with contractions. They went up and pulled all the blood out (ouch again!) and it instantly felt a whole lot better and I was able to rest a little before effects of the morphine started making me feel extremely sick and drowsy. I managed to console my Gran for a while, who had turned up most unluckily at the height of my pain and then had to listen to me scream from down the corridor while the doctors were sorting things out. I opened some more presents and cards before falling asleep. I spend the rest of my 21st birthday dozing, throwing up and crying with happiness that I wasn't in pain anymore.

The people on the ward were lovely. The other patients banded together and bought me a birthday cake and then came into my room in their dressing gowns and sang happy birthday to me. When I got moved to the gynecology ward the patients there too were lovely and wished me happy birthday, one of them even came up and consoled me when I was upset because the nurse had just completely ignored me when I was throwing up and crying. The nurses were a bit mean really. It's a shame because so many of them are lovely, but I had a run of three not very nice nurses and a few useless doctors who couldn't really deal with me when I was in pain. I think they should focus more on the caring aspect of a nurse, I feel like the hire people as long as they know their stuff, but it really harms your recovery if you're constantly upset because of how the nurses are treating you. It particularly bothered me that the last hour of my birthday was spent being upset at my nurse rather than a real, unavoidable problem.

As you can see I was pretty chipper while opening my presents! And my lovely bear came in handy for hugging while I was in hospital. 

I'm still weak and breathless at home now and am in contact with my specialist who is a bit concerned at how quickly they let me go home, only the day after I'd had all my pain and bleeding. So I might end up in hospital again this week as my chest pain is worsening and I have no energy at all. And I still can't stand up without feeling out of breath. It's a massive effort to get up to go to the toilet, I actually have a seat with a bucket in my room now because getting across the landing is too much of a drain on my energy and my lungs just don't have the capacity for that kind of exercise. I'm not going to lie - it's really horrible. It feels like my whole body is screaming at me when I get out of breath. It's not like when you go for a run and do a bit too much and have to stop to get your breath. It's like I've just jumped into a pool of ice and every nerve in my body is screaming "what are you doing???", when all I've done is put a pair of leggings on. I hope that makes sense, I'm just trying to say it's not like normal breathlessness, it's like my whole body has gone into shock. So obviously I'm avoiding getting out of breath as much as I can because the feeling is really not very pleasant at all. I'm managing okay though. Watching a lot of tv and staying in bed some days with my iPad, looking on YouTube and catching up with tv on BBC iPlayer. Say what you want about technology ruining the world but it sure does come in handy when you're disabled and ill and can't get out and about. 

So life is on pause for a while, no doubt I'll be back in hospital soon and finding out whether this breathlessness is going to be a permanent thing or whether this is just how life is going to be now. I hope I haven't depressed you too much, maybe read the nice first paragraph about the northern lights again before you go, then grab yourself a nice cup of tea and your favourite biscuit! 

(I'll be updating you on the rest of what's been happening as soon as I can find the words! I'm hoping inspiration will come in the next few days!) 


  1. Your Northern Lights pictures look incredible, I'd love to go and see them! I hope you're feeling much better now xx

    What Sarah Says

  2. Thanks Sarah! It's a beautiful country! And the northern lights really are spectacular, you should definitely go if you get the chance! x



Template by