Welcome back to my corner of the Dementia Researcher blogs. If you are a regular reader of my stuff (hi mum!) you will probably be aware that in recent musings I have touched on some medical issues I have experienced in the last 12 months. If you haven’t, the ‘TLDR’ is I have a chronic digestive issue called ulcerative pancolitis. I normally manage this with a mix of diet, lifestyle and medicine but over the new year my worst fears were realised. I had to be admitted into hospital and I am still there. Normally I like to blog about cool science, career tips or PhD life. This month, I want to tell you about my experience of being a hospital patient in Covid times.
Firstly, I was pretty resilient to come here. About a week before I was admitted my clinic recommended that I go in. The idea of being stuck in hospital with no chance of visitation was not at all appealing to me. I am a family man and wanted to stay at home and try and get better with my family around me. Treatments we had used in the past to help me in these situations had not been tried yet so I requested we try those first instead. It felt like a victory but in reality, I should have just come here right away. Or maybe not…
What followed was 5 days of no progress. I wasn’t sleeping, struggling to eat and getting more sorry for myself with each day. My partner was also not sleeping and having to juggle caring for me with a high-pressure job. It was not sustainable. When they first called, I did not want to go to hospital but by the time we reached that option again, I knew it was the right thing to do. In a way, delaying my admission gave me time to mentally prepare for the admission. What would I pack? How would I entertain myself? How would I get myself there and back? I had been granted the time to sort all of this out in my head and when the team said “you need to come in right now” I knew what I had to do. I gathered my things, said a temporary farewell to my partner and dog and made my way here.
I have now been here for 4 days and it is surprising how relieved I am to be here allowing the experts to get me the care I need. I will be here for at least another few days, maybe longer but my main goal is to ensure my discharge is not rushed. I want everything to be right. I do not want to have to come in again. The no visitors thing kind of sucks but the pandemic certainly is not affecting the wonderful care and attention our NHS gifts us so generously.
When I first arrived I was fast tracked through A&E into a triage assessment. From there I went to an interim ward while they found me a bed and I got onto a main ward at about 1 am (~12 hours after I arrived). It was a bed in a shared ward and that first night was the hardest. I arrived in the dark not sure what was next and unable to settle. Fortunately, the following morning the private room with toilet (I need this with my condition) that I was promised materialised. I was moved at about 6:30 am and have been here ever since.
I have quickly fallen into a routine. I know when my meals come (the food has actually been great!) and I know when to expect blood pressure checks, new doses of medicines etc. Every single person who works here is a credit to the NHS and I feel like I am in the best possible hands. It would be nice to see my family but I thought ahead and brought my charger, laptop and headphones so I can constantly speak to people and entertain myself with streaming services. The hospital wifi is actually pretty decent!
The only thing that is difficult is not knowing when I will go home. It is all dictated by my progress. At the moment I have not got worse but not got significantly better. I get a visit from a gastro doctor once a day and this is where I find out the most information. Any improvements? Any idea when I can go home? I don’t want to rush out and have to subsequently come back but I do actually want to go home at some point!
It’s essentially just a big waiting game. Sit tight and let them do their stuff and get me better. I constantly remind myself that I am fortunate. Yes I am in here but I will be going home. There are people in this hospital far sicker than me that will sadly not get that luxury. Why focus on the bad when I can focus on the good? I also have my own space and a great view of the Mersey estuary. If it was an apartment with this view it would be worth a small fortune!
I know what I have to do. I need to be patient and trust the process. I will get out of here and back to good health and appreciate it so much more when I do. I guess the point I am making is do not take good health for granted. It is so valuable. However, if you find yourself in a position like mine don’t be afraid to go to hospital. Take it from someone who really didn’t want to go. If you have to, it is the best possible place to be.
Ed: We are sure you join us in wishing Sam a speedy recovery.
Dr Sam Moxon is a biomaterials scientist at the University of Manchester. His expertise falls on the interface between biology and engineering. His PhD focussed on regenerative medicine and he now works on trying to develop 3D bioprinting techniques with human stem cells, so that we better understand and treat degenerative diseases. Outside of the lab he hikes through the Lake District and is an expert on all things Disney.