I’ve been away from my blog for a while now – ever since my four day stay in a hospital in Ingolstadt, Germany to be exact. Since being admitted, I’ve felt slightly off and unable to write *anything*, let alone about what happened. But I’m sat down now and determined to finally record what happened. So, if you don’t like reading about; illness, hospitals, blood or poo then I suggest you stop reading now…
So I suppose I’d better give you some background. At random points on our trip, even back in December when we were in France, I’d been getting intense tummy pains that left me curled up in bed crying. A few times, we’d been close to taking me to the hospital (or even driving to one), when the pains would stop and I’d be fine for another month or so. Weird, right? When we went back to England for a week in February to get the van MOTed, I visited my doctors 3 times to try to figure out what it was. They ruled out my contraceptive coil but gave me a useful verdict of “well, there’s lots of gastro related things it could be so just keep an eye on it”. So that was that and I headed out in the van again.
I then switched to veganism and for a while I thought my problems had been solved – my tummy seemed to have calmed down. I still occasionally had a bad belly day but they weren’t so bad as before. Then we got to Munich to visit Ross’ lovely friend who lives there. We’d had a mini roadtrip planned for a while but the location was picked pretty last minute: Ingolstadt, a couple of hours drive from Munich. We piled into the van happily and that’s when the pains started again. It was then we realised that I was running out of painkillers (fun) and that not having a bathroom was gonna be a problem because I needed to go *alot*. Luckily we found a car park by a lake (which I never saw as I was either painfully sitting in the van or on the toilet located by the car park). Thank goodness it did have a toilet or that night would have been much shittier.
I felt awful that the pains were ruining the short time we had with Ross’ friend. After my night on the loo, I was still feeling bad so I told Ross and his friend to explore the town while I tried to recover in the van. However, after yet more hours sat on the portaloo, the poor thing, they returned and I was (to put it bluntly) pooing a heck of a lot of blood. I didn’t quite believe it when I first saw it, so I took a photo on my phone to show Ross when he returned (yet another example of how boundaries completely disappear when you live together in a van). He saw it and insisted we go to the hospital immediately, so we headed to the ‘Klinikum’.
We found A&E after another toilet trip (yay) and attempted to convey what was wrong, where I lived in England and that I currently live in a van so had no German address. Fun. I last did German at school ten years ago and I think I’m being to kind to myself even by saying I’m rusty. “Ich bin Englisch, sprechen sie Englisch?” (I am English, can you speak English?) and “ich wohne in ein Wohnmobil” (I live in a motorhome) became my most used phrases on my hospital trip.
I waited about 20 minutes before being seen by two nurses who took my blood pressure and 3 vials of my blood, and who tried to ask me what was wrong and work out what I was saying, with lots of frustrated sighs and giggles at how rubbish we were at English/German respectively. Eventually through repeating ‘blood’ and ‘poo’, which received a triumphant response of “Ahhh! Poo-poo!” from one of the nurses, we got there. I was given a smile and they pointed back to the waiting room, telling us to wait for an hour. So off we went.
I was next seen by a couple of doctors who spoke really good English (one really sounded Australian), and they told me that my blood had come back fine and so I didn’t have an infection or virus so they wanted to do an ultrasound. I waited another hour or so and had my ultrasound which didnt reveal anything new either. So then I was told I needed to stay overnight in the hospital to drink laxatives and have a colonoscopy the next day. I was told that if the colonoscopy showed that I was ok, then I’d have to wait half an hour and then could go home.
I agreed and had one of the most uncomfortable and terrifying nights of my life. I was completely alone, in intense pain that made it hard to walk, drinking laxatives that meant I was excreting even more blood (I hadn’t eaten anything in a day anyway), no one had actually checked my “poos” at the hospital so I was scared I was really really ill and none of the doctors or nurses on the night shift could speak any English…
The morning arrived and I hadn’t slept a wink and was still in huge amounts of pain. Ross and his friend visited me but it wasn’t a nice atmosphere in the ward and Ross had to take his friend back to Munich in time for a shift the next day.
I was alone again and it was time for my colonoscopy. I’d drank about 3 litres of laxatives by that point and was feeling awful. I was wheeled to the colonoscopy and met by a nurse who started speaking quickly in German to me. It was extremely frustrating how none of the staff were ever told that I was English and couldn’t speak German – I had to awkwardly try to explain it myself every time. She looked worried and couldn’t speak any English but luckily one of the doctors performing the colonoscopy could speak a little English. I could tell though that they were kind and that I was in safe hands. I went under anaesthetic and fell asleep very quickly and luckily, when I woke up, it was done! The English-speaking doctor told me it was a chronic infection and I’d probably inherited it from my family. She then corrected herself and said it was a chronic inflammation and they’d done a biopsy on my colon as well and I’d have those results in a day…
I was sleepily taken back to the short stay ward and another doctor came to see me who spoke fluent English. He repeated what I’d been told by the colonoscopy doctor – I had a chronic inflammation, probably inherited, and it would probably happen to me multiple times in the future as well. The biopsy and official results would reveal what the chronic inflammation was exactly and I’d get the results the next day. But they wanted to keep me in hospital for at least two more days and give me steroids to treat my inflammation and I’d have to continue taking them after I left hospital.
I was then taken to a longer stay ward which I shared with an older woman who couldn’t speak any English, though I spoke a little bit of German to her, and which thankfully had a toilet and shower! I stayed there and had a lot of medication fed to me via a drip and each day, I felt better and better. I had a new doctor and didn’t see anyone from my previous two days in hospital. My new doctor was lovely but spoke less English and didn’t seem to have spoken to my previous doctors… She took more vials of my blood (even though they’d been testing when I first arrived) and did the same tests on them and again told me I had no bacterial or viral infection… Then she said I’d have to wait a week for my results!
On my fourth day in the hospital, my wonderful father had arrived the night before, and was helping Ross to support and look after me. They were both with me when my doctor came to tell me that my colonoscopy results had come back and that they showed that my colon was fine…
I was so relieved because it meant that we could leave to meet our friend in Salzburg that evening that I didn’t really think properly. It was only when we’d left that I thought: wait… I was told by the first two doctors after my colonoscopy that I had a chronic inflammation? And if I was fine, then why was I kept in hospital for 3 days extra and given steroids via a drip? It just didn’t add up.
Overall, my experience in a German hospital was pretty stressful and inconclusive. I don’t know what went wrong – every individual, especially the nurses, were kind and seemed competent but I left confused as to what was wrong with me, why I’d lost so much blood and why I’d been kept in hospital for so long.
I’m planning on going to a specialist when we get back to the UK, because although I’m no longer pooing blood, I’m still occasionally getting those awful abdominal pains. I want answers and to know if there’s something I can do to prevent it happening in the future.
But for now, I just feel frustrated and terrified that the experience will be repeated…