In case you are new around here, and haven’t had the delight of encountering the abundance of hospital wards; EAU stands for emergency assessment unit – yes, it’s as scary as it sounds. You may be wondering – well, what’s the difference between EAU and A&E? I couldn’t give you the text book definition but from my understanding: you are placed in EAU when they don’t know what’s wrong with you but they’re trying to find out as quickly as possible.
When I rolled into EAU, they had been expecting me as I had just come from my GP who told me I could have lymphoma. My phone was exploding with messages that I couldn’t answer, and my mind was dazzled with a million and one thoughts, but at the same time my brain was blank. The room had a few beds and chairs around, one of the lovely nurses told me to wait on the bed while my mum waited on the chair for the rest of my crew to show up. It’s amazing how quickly people show up when you really need them – shout out to you guys.
My two sisters; Parris and Alex, showed up moments later. Parris (the eldest) clocked eyes with me first, and I could see the pain on her face as she desperately tries to keep it together. She doesn’t say anything yet, instead she hugs me tight; I tell her sarcastically, don’t hug me too tight because I can’t breathe and she laughs through her tears, we’re going to get through this she says. My younger sister, Alex, is the next to hug me, and she cries and I hold her and tell her that everything is going to be okay.
One of the on-call doctors came strutting in, he felt around my neck, under my armpits and my abdomen… I wasn’t really sure what he was feeling for because in my mind, I was going to be okay – I was still thinking maybe lymphoma isn’t cancer and that this was all one big misunderstanding. He followed up with a bunch of questions: how much weight have you lost? Do you feel tired more than normal? And have you noticed any lump or bumps on your body? It still wasn’t clicking in my mind but I answered his questions truthfully. “And… your GP told you it was lymphoma right?” He says with a serious look on his face.
My boyfriend finally arrived and then a few moments later two nurses came into this little curtained off section, and started prodding at my arm for some blood, good luck. They tried each possible vein on my arm and wrists and still had no luck, my head was spinning literally and I felt so faint, please stop. “We really need this blood, sorry.” And they continued until they got some blood.
They moved me onto a mixed gender ward, and told me I was likely going to stay the night as my CT scan was going to be in the morning. I didn’t sleep that night at all, my breathing declined a lot that night and I was struggling to breathe the whole night.
This was the first CT scan that I ever had, and they took my bed into the waiting area. I remember crying and sobbing because I was scared of the scan and terrified for the results of the scan. This old man who was also waiting to have a CT scan, he looked at me with sorry eyes, and asked the radiologists if I could go in before him so I could get it over with. They laid me down on the scanner bed, and I told them it was hard for me to breathe laying down but they promised me that they would stop the scan and help me if something was to happen. The CT scan was with contrast, which made my body feel hot and left a foul taste in my mouth.
Finally, the scan was over and we were waiting for the results. We waited for about two hours, which was okay. I was in my dressing gown, mascara smudged down my face, and red cheeks. Waiting…
I’ll never forget it. The doctor came to my bed, and told me, Nicole, we’ve got your results, let’s go to a private room and talk… bring your mum with you. I followed her to a private room, and she was with her colleague. The room was just four walls with some chairs inside, it was pretty dull. She looked at me, and I could see in her eyes that she didn’t want to explain this to me. Nicole, she took a long breath, your scan results, there’s definitely is a large mass in your chest and it’s either lymphoma or another type of cancer. I already knew this but the confirmation hit me like a brick and I started sobbing. My mum hugged me tight and the doctor continues to talk… your left lung seems to have collapsed because of the lump, which is why you aren’t breathing properly. She talks some more and I cry some more… people get through this, and I know you will too, you can live your life once this is over. She holds my shoulder sympathetically and then leaves the room, leaving just me and my mum.
The sad thing is, I really wanted to cry like never before but I couldn’t even cry properly because I was struggling to breathe. The frustration, anger and complete sadness was stuck in my head.