Today, is all about the moments that as health activists or as patients we regret. The moments that looking back on, we wished we had done things differently.
Mine happened during my first year at University. Around this time the dizziness was becoming increasingly worse, and was also experiencing at the time periods where I was fainting and losing consciousness for a few minutes. This obviously caused some alarm, not only for myself but also for my parents. I found myself on a couple of occasions I fainted whilst out walking the dog; waking to find Honey looming over me, licking my face, trying to make me come to!
After a couple of these episodes, my parents and I made an appointment with the Doctor; he checked my blood pressure, which has always been low, but he wasn’t overly concerned, and didn’t think it was the cause of these blackouts. He then referred me to see a consultant at the local hospital, but warned me that it would be a wait. He suggested that if I experienced another episode then I should visit the ‘Accident and Emergency’ department of the local hospital, which may fasten the process. A couple of weeks later, whilst out with a meal with Mum, I fainted whilst in the bathroom, and so she phoned my Dad, who then came to pick us up and drove us to the hospital.
It wasn’t long after that, I received a hospital appointment with a consultant. It was in what they called the ‘Day Hospital;, an outpatient department with beds, where if needed you would need to stay there all day to go through endless tests. Thankfully, I wasn’t there all day, but he examined me throughly, and noticed a couple of abnormalities with my legs, exaggerated reflexes, I think was the concern. It was then he referred me for a CAT scan of my brain and spinal cord, as he suspected that it may be caused by some sort of neurological disorder. After the appointment, I went home, and like most people I googled about the procedure. It really didn’t seem like such a big deal, but at that time the dizziness was so bad – and was quite bad when lying down staring up at a ceiling, which obviously happens during a CAT scan.
Anyway, a few weeks later the appointment came through – my Mum was working so it was Dad who accompanied me. I admit, that all hospital tests and procedures scare me a little, and was particularly worried about this one, especially as my Dad wouldn’t be able to come with me as CAT scans uses radiation, and I did work myself up because of my anxieties.
I worked myself up so much that I had a panic attack after lying on this small, narrow bed that would be used during the scan, I just felt incredibly dizzy, and didn’t like how open the room was; it felt like I was going to fall of the bed or something! I just couldn’t go through with it, and so the test was cancelled and I went home. The tension in the car on the way back home was horrific; Dad was so angry, especially as the trip was wasted.
Looking back on it, that was my one big health moment that I regret. Not only did I waste my Dad’s time but also the hospital’s time – that cancelled appointment could have been used for someone else that needed it; wasted resource that would surely cost the NHS. But I also regret it because there was that possibility, that they could have found what was wrong with me a lot sooner – I wouldn’t be diagnosed for at least another four years after that. Maybe I couldn’t go through with it as at the time I was scared about what they would find; maybe I was not emotionally ready to find out what was wrong with me. Although, perhaps if they had found out the cause sooner, especially the problem with my legs, then I could have entered physiotherapy a lot sooner, and perhaps my legs would not be as bad as they are now. But now we will never know; there will always be that ‘what if’…