The symptoms had remained the same all week. Coming and going in severity. Until April 1st when I found myself at work feeling that I could no longer stand up at all.
My heart thudded, fluttered, stopped and started. I had a hive-like rash and felt too awful to eat, too lightheaded to see straight, too exhausted to stand, breathless, shaky, nauseous, and confused.
After getting my boss to feel my pulse in a panic and rejecting my dinner, he called enough on my brave face (knowing I have problems asking for help) and drove me to the local A&E.
When we got to the hospital I explained what had been going on and how I felt it had been triggered.
And just two minutes after being triaged, I was in a bed having bloods taken out and paracetamol and fluids put in.
I was scared.
After a few hours and several negative tests; I was treated for anaphylactic shock. It was the doctor’s belief that I had experienced a severe and delayed reaction to Sayana Press (the contraceptive injection I had received the week before).
As I left the hospital; I still felt dizzy, lightheaded and confused. But being given so many anti-histamines I assumed a good nights sleep would set me straight.
The next day I woke up feeling just the same. I had a week’s course of steroids and antihistamine tablets to take though… So maybe I would feel better when it was ‘out of my system’.
I called my Dad and let him know what had happened. My car was at work, so he came over with some food too. Shortly after he left I called him back. I could barely stand to get a drink, let alone prepare food for myself.
And the next day I called my Mum admitting defeat. I couldn’t walk, wash, or fetch food for myself. I needed help.
So I went to stay with my Mum ‘for a few nights’.
The following month is a complete blur, as one day blended with another and merged into a week.
I remember going home initially – after just a couple of days of being in my Mum’s spare bed. I planned to see a friend who was bringing over dinner to mine. So I dragged myself around the downstairs of my house by the hoover. But by the time she arrived I felt ‘out of it’. Sat on my sofa in my PJs I wondered why I couldn’t communicate properly. My friend emptied her shopping bags in the kitchen and made me a cup of tea. We spoke briefly about what was going on and how I was feeling, before deciding we probably needed ice-cream to go with our dinner too. Not wanting to be left inside again, I adamantly pulled on my DMs and a hoodie over my PJs. Five minutes later I was sat in the car park whilst my mate nipped into the shops.
I had a crushing feeling in my chest. My throat got tighter and tighter. And my heart started pounding – unbelievably fast, visibly. I could feel it all over and hear it’s thudding in my ears. I reached for my phone, sure my heart was going to come bursting out of my chest. My mate came back, and I declared I needed to head to the hospital into her shocked face.
What was that? What had happened to me?
We got in and I called my Mum again, seeing if she fancied taking me to A&E – for my racing heart, hot flushes, growing light-headedness and fear that my throat was going to close completely.
So backwards I went.
I packed a bag, ate with my friend (the whole time apologising about whatever was ‘wrong with me’), slid back into her car and headed to my Mum. Where I cried and panicked and begged for help – for what, I didn’t know!
We called 111 and after putting off an ambulance, we headed back round to A&E. We waited, I had a chest xray, ECG and blood tests. I explained my fever, the presumed reaction to the contraceptive injection, breathlessness, heart palpitations, vision loss, throat tightness and dizziness. And we were told it maybe a virus.
I was exhausted and terrified.
I remember going back to my Mum’s and being scared. It really felt as though I was going to die and noone was listening. Eating made me feel on the brick of sickness for hours and caused heart palpitations that meant I couldn’t rest. Sitting and standing made me completely exhausted. Laying down I was still lightheaded and things moved around me everytime I moved.
After a week of making no improvements and being told by various doctors that I had a virus, ongoing effects of the anaphylactic shock, seasonal allergies, inner ear infection, asthma, anxiety, depression, a stomach bug and side effects of the contraceptive injection… I said I felt a bit better and went home.
And then the thoughts began. The thoughts that kept me quiet and stopped me speaking out…