WSS Opinion: Hospital Tales

If you follow us on Instagram, you might have seen I was admitted to hospital nearly two weeks ago. It all started with a week of not being able to go to the toilet. I didn’t feel a need to go, nothing. Now, I’m usually as regular as clockwork, so I was starting to get concerned. By 7 PM on the 21st of January, I was doubled over in pain and vomiting. My husband had tried to get an ambulance but we were told to drive to the hospital. He had also called nurse on call and tried to get an after-hours doctor to visit, all to no avail. He ended up taking me to ER, only to be told there would be a four hour plus wait. I couldn’t sit up at this stage, so there was no way I could sit in the waiting room for that long. In the end, we went home and I tried to sleep.

Saturday morning I was much worse and could barely walk. My husband again tried to get an ambulance and couldn’t get one to come. He had to again drive me to back to ER. Thankfully, I was admitted straight away. Thank goodness! And thank you for Morphine, anti-vomiting medication and for being able to lay down. After being stabilised, I was sent for a CT scan to see what was going on.

It’s very interesting laying in the middle of an ER department for hours, you get to hear everything that’s going on and to say that the health professionals in that area need the utmost respect and the best of everything would be an understatement. Especially dealing with psychiatric patients. Personally, I think there should be a dedicated section for mental health, as it would take a lot of the pressure off the emergency departments and the staff can focus on emergency patients (like myself) and the mental health patients would receive the help they need in a timely manner too.

Our emergency department has been the same for over twenty years and we live in the fastest growing area in Melbourne, which means effectively, with the growing population and an ER that hasn’t changed in that time, it is frought with issues. A new part has been added recently to the side of the hospital, which has new surgical theatres, but the existing wards are very tired and are badly in need of maintenance. Lights not working properly and the fire alarm going off intermittently were just a couple of the issues I saw. The staff were using paper and folders to chart patient’s notes and medications, whereas most of the other hospitals were using digital medical record keeping.

It seems to be a common thing to do with our state government. They spend money on shiny new things and don’t maintain the existing infrastructure (you just need to look at the state of our roads to see that). There was an article in the paper a few days ago actually, that revealed Victoria has the least amount of spending on health and in particular, staff and hospital beds, in Australia. Mr Andrews was the health minister and now the Premier in the last 11 years out of 14, and the state of the health care system lies with him fully. And, to be honest, he should be ashamed of himself. The hospital and ambulance systems were in crisis before we had even heard of Covid19!

Anyway, back to me. My CT scan results had come through and it was revealed that I did indeed have a blockage in my bowel and part of my large bowel was either dead or dying. There was also a lesion in my Sigmoid colon (large bowel), that had caused the blockage in the first place, which was cancerous.

I was then moved to the ward and prepped for surgery. At 4 am on Sunday the 23rd of January, my surgery was completed and I had a significantly shorter bowel, as the surgeon had removed the lesion and the dead/ dying large bowel (90% of my large intestine was removed. Which could have been saved had I have had been seen to in a timely manner!). I now have a stoma bag for the next six to twelve months and I might be able to have my bowel reattached at a later date. 

I have an appointment next week to see my doctor, which will give me some idea of what treatments I may need going forward. All indications show the cancer was caught early and I won’t need chemotherapy or radiation. If caught early, usually bowel cancers don’t require further therapies. 

However, If I did require chemotherapy, I wouldn’t be doing it. I have seen my Mum, a dear friend and others go through chemo and they didn’t/ don’t have a quality of life. They were/are constantly sick or in pain from having had chemotherapy. Yes, it might get rid of the cancer but what it does to the rest of your body is terrible with lifelong consequences. I’d rather have a quality of life for a shorter lifespan, than a longer life with constant health issues. 

Family and friends have asked how I am doing and I can honestly say I am quite grateful my body reacted the way it did, so the cancer could be found. I’m also very grateful to be here, as I probably wouldn’t have been here if I hadn’t had the surgery when I did. 

Surprisingly, I haven’t had a meltdown or had a “why me?” moment. It is what it is and, as I mentioned above, I’m lucky to still be here. 

Unsurprisingly, I’m finding it hard to accept help and I’m going to have to be reliant on others to do things for me for a while. This ‘little miss independent’ is kind of finding it frustrating to rely on others and not being able to do a lot around the house for at least another four weeks. I guess I just have to suck it up and do as I’m told. 

I am so grateful to have a wonderful husband, who has not only managed to stay on top of his full-time work but also get our youngest ready for back to school, get everything done around the house and be there for me too. I’m going to have to organise a cleaner to help out regularly for a while too.

In hindsight, I did have a few niggles in my tummy prior to getting sick but I put it down to PCOS. In our mid-40s, we tend to just get on with things and not let little niggles or health issues get in the way of life, but I really wish I had listened to what mine was telling me. Although, we haven’t actually been able to go into our medical clinic for two years (they are only doing telehealth calls), so going in to see a doctor for anything may have been an issue anyway. 

So, there you go, you’re all caught up on what has been happening with me. 




One Comment

  • Denyse Whelan Blogs

    Wow. By the sounds of it your body did you a favour ….with what it let you know was happening… very scary stuff ..and hope you continue to do well. Be prepared you may get an emotional reaction that’s unexpected because you had to process so much in a short space of time…and yes to letting others help! Be kind to yourself! Denyse x

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