This time last week, I was starting to feel not quite right. I’d barely been able to pee at all, which is strange, because I love drinking delicious water and so I’m normally able to go fairly regularly and easily. Feeling somewhat concerned, I called the 111, the non-emergency NHS line. I spoke to a doctor and he assured me that the situation was not serious – he said if it goes on for a few days, then maybe I should call my GP, but he said I shouldn’t worry and specifically mentioned that I shouldn’t go to the emergency room at the hospital. Trusting in his judgement, I thought nothing of it and went to bed a couple of hours later.
The next morning I woke up and, generally felt the same as the night before. Other than being unable to start the day with my morning pee, I didn’t feel too bad. I saw my housefriend Sophie off to work and started thinking about the relaxing ways in which I could spend another easy-going day at home. Unfortunately, after I’d been awake for an hour or so I started to feel quite a high level of discomfort and before long it had grown into the worst pain I’d ever experienced in my life so far. I was writhing in bed and could barely stand up. I called the GP and asked to speak to a duty doctor – I was told somebody would call me before the end of the morning.
I writhed around in bed for the next few hours, trying to find a position that was comfortable. I even forced myself to make some breakfast, so I came downstairs and made a bowl of porridge (which was really hard to do!) Sadly, I was in too much pain to be able to eat it. I was also in too much pain to be able to read or to watch anything on my laptop. I waited for the doctor to call and it seemed to be taking ages.
At 11:55am I decided that the pain had grown to such an extent that it was now appropriate for me to call an ambulance for myself. I described what had been happening and the person on the phone said she didn’t think it sounded like a situation which warranted an ambulance. She said a doctor would call me to discuss what to do within three hours. Upon ending the call, I realised I had a voicemail from the duty doctor who sounded quite annoyed that I’d not answered when he called. He said to ring back as soon as possible. I did and the receptionist said he’d speak to me “sometime this afternoon.”
So, I was lying in bed feeling somewhat defeated and still in agony. I wasn’t entirely sure what I would do, other than wait for a call. Thankfully, I was telling my friend Tulin about the situation as it unfolded and she told me that I needed to ask one of my friends to drive me to hospital. Weirdly, it had never occurred to me to ask anybody. Anyway, I decided to ask my friend Sarah and thankfully she arrived to take me about twenty minutes later. It was very kind and generous of her to do this for me and I appreciate it enormously.
I was a bit worried I’d be unable to come down to get in her car when I was in so much agony, because it was too painful even to get dressed. I just put a jacket on over my pyjamas and a pair of shoes. Strangely, Sarah somehow prompted a brief respite from the pain. It felt much less bad during the whole journey and I was actually able to chat with her along the way in only moderate discomfort. I guess my brain knew that I needed to get to the hospital and so it helped me to persevere for the journey. Either that, or it was just the healing effect of seeing a good friend.
Anyway, when I got into the hospital, the respite from pain was over and I was almost immediately barely able to even talk or stand. They identified it as an emergency and saw my pretty much immediately. I shan’t go into the details of the five or six hours I spent there and all the painful procedures I had to have done to me, but I was diagnosed with acute bladder retention. They said at the time that if I had waited much longer before getting treatment, I could have had serious liver damage. Looking online to read more about it, it’s even described as “life threatening” if not treated quickly – it’s crazy to me that I was told by two people that it wasn’t urgent and that one of them, a doctor, told me to wait a few days before calling my GP. It would have been so bad if I did this.
For the time being, I have to use a catheter, which can be very uncomfortable and my mobility was very diminished, though it’s been a week now and I am just about starting to get used to it. All going well, I’ll have it removed on Friday. It’s been quite an experience and I am very thankful to have good friends like Tulin and Sarah. My housefriend Sophie has also been very supportive and made it clear to me that it’s okay to ask for any amount of help, even if it were to mean helping me out of the shower or getting dressed. Thankfully, I have maintained enough independence to do those things by myself, but it is very heartwarming to know that I can count on her entirely.
I will probably write more about that day in future, but the biggest takeaway from this, for me, was that you can’t always trust what the doctors say. If they tell you that it’s not an emergency, but you know it is, you have to make sure that you are seen as soon as possible!