13 December 2011

The horror of kidney infection, and how it inspired me.

It was the 3rd of December, a Saturday like any other. I was lounging comfily in my pyjamas, having a relaxing day at home with my boyfriend Sebastian. I had spent most of my afternoon figuring out how to finish decorating my room, playing Ico on my PlayStation 3, and deciding what I’d be doing for my subscribers in my next YouTube video.

I distinctly remember sitting on my sofa, and placing a pillow behind my back when I felt a sharp, shrieking pain in my right groin area. I remember feeling taken aback by how sudden and strong it was. I mentioned to Sebastian that I didn’t feel right.

For a couple of weeks prior to this happening, I had been suffering from a very abnormal back pain. My lower back was behaving the way it would in the body of an 80 year old woman. I had trouble bending down, lifting things and doing simple things such as getting out of bed in the morning. At 22 years of age this was becoming increasingly worrying.

I made an appointment with my GP in October, and after some useless examination he exclaimed it was something “musculoskeletal” and prescribed me some anti-inflammatory medication, which of course was no help at all.

I was hoping that it was something temporary, that perhaps with time it would heal and go away, but I was very wrong.

Going back to December 3rd after feeling that sudden pain, I got up and moved around, but the pain just became progressively worse. 

No matter how I sat, how I walked or what I did the pain kept coming back stronger and stronger. I consider myself to be someone with a high pain threshold, but this was something so unexpected and excruciating, that the pain just got the better of me. 

At this point, I grabbed Sebastian and told him this pain wasn’t normal and I had to go to a hospital immediately. I was in such pain that I couldn’t even control the fact that I had begun crying, despite the fact that about twenty minutes earlier I had just recklessly taken four paracetamol tablets, but nothing would deter this horrific feeling.

Sebastian immediately grabbed the phone, and called my father who was now doing some shopping and was pretty far from home. Dad was incredibly alarmed when he heard me on the phone, crying in pain. Especially, coming for someone like me who has never suffered from any serious ailments, apart from the odd cold or flu.

It was now a waiting game, as dad was on his way. They both said they would call an ambulance but I stubbornly refused, saying I could take it and wait for dad to arrive. By the time dad arrived home, I was in a complete trance, worn out. Although the dosage of medication I had taken had begun to take effect, the pain was still there looming in the background.

We got into the car, and I kept my calm. By now, I had stopped crying and the atmosphere had calmed down, but I was incredibly anxious and worried about my health. I also felt very scared for when the paracetamol effects would wear off, I just didn’t want to feel that pain ever again. Little did I know the worst had just begun.

We arrived at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and went into A&E. My father was incredibly surprised at how short the wait was, especially for a Saturday evening. I remember him telling me it was usually full of drunks on Friday and Saturday evenings. Luckily the drunks hadn’t arrived yet. It was around 8pm when the nurse saw me. I explained my symptoms to her, and it soon became clear that I seemed to have a kidney infection. I then proceeded to take some tests. 

I am not one to be squeamish of blood and needles, but because of my state of mind at the time, I remember feeling incredibly anxious when I was having my blood taken out. I just remember feeling, why is this happening? My day started off so normal…

After the tests, I was once again, back in the waiting game. The hours ticked by, and I remember feeling exhausted and tired, with only a water bottle by my side to keep me going. I lay with my head rested on Sebastian’s shoulder, when finally the doctor called me inside. The doctor confirmed the suspicions. I had a kidney infection. I was given antibiotics and painkillers, which I was grateful for, as my pain was beginning to creep back.

I remember leaving the hospital, and feeling relieved that finally, I had been diagnosed correctly. All those weeks and weeks of lower back pain, who would’ve known it was connected to my Kidneys?

I was in the car, calm now due to the effect of the medication and I spoke to my father and boyfriend, and told them I felt sad that this had ruined my weekend plans. They scolded me, as I quietly suggested that perhaps I could still go out the following day. They thought I was ridiculous for even thinking of it, considering everything I had just been through. Now that I think of it, I was being pretty ridiculous.

For Sunday, I had been planning to go to the London Gaming Con. It was an event I was bound to have an amazing time at, seeing as I’m a huge gaming fan and I had also promised my YouTube subscribers I would film my day out at the event for them. I also knew that some of my supporters were going to be there. 

Needless to say, I felt incredibly guilty for letting them down. But I had no reason to feel bad. This was my health we were talking about. I had to prioritise, and after some minutes of deep thought, I realised I had to put my health first. An unhealthy Sabrina could never make her fans happy, so I promised I would get better.

When we got home, it was already Sunday, December 4th and around 2am. I remember tweeting and updating the internet with: “Horrible day. Just got back from hospital. I have a kidney infection. I'm so sorry guys, I can't go to the London Gaming Con. I'm so sad. :(”. 

After receiving some wonderfully supportive replies, I then tweeted again: “I love you guys, thank you so much for your get well messages, it makes me feel a little better. I'm going to sleep now. <3”. This was the last time I’d tweet again for the next few days.

I then collapsed on my bed and drifted off into an abysmal sleep. The next morning is a blur to me now that I try to recall it. All I remember is that it was an absolutely dreadful day. When I thought I could only get better, the worst had just begun. Not only was I suffering from my first symptoms of lower back pain and right groin pain, I was also suffering from migraine, nausea, vomiting, fever.

I remember lying in bed asking why it was so cold. No matter how many covers Sebastian would put on me, I felt like my body was covered in ice. I get chills now, when I think about it. It was the most horrendous feeling, coupled with excruciating pain. I began taking my antibiotics and painkillers, which were both very strong medication, which kept me feeling very drowsy and tired. It also didn’t help that my painkillers had morphine in them, which pretty much kept me sleeping all the time. Although, I preferred to sleep because it was the only time I felt peace and was unknown to the horror and turmoil that was going on inside my body.

In my mind, time is now blurred between those 4 days. I cannot differentiate the days, because they were all the same to me. It was all a battle against my body, and I honestly just wanted someone to knock me out and wake me up when I was healthy again. The amount of crying and suffering I endured was traumatic to me. I didn’t feel like I was myself anymore, I felt like someone had come in and ripped out my fighting spirit, because I had none left. That happy, charismatic personality of mine felt as if it had died and all that was left was a barren wasteland.

I didn’t care about anything any more, I just wanted this all to end. In those 4 days, there was nothing in my mind. No music, no singing, no video games, none of my favourite things. Just one thing: Please, I want to get better. Please, stop the pain. It sounds horrible doesn’t it? But that’s exactly how I felt.

The painkillers were only a temporary solution to what was going on inside. Although, temporarily they eased my physical pain, my mental pain was the greatest. I couldn’t even walk properly. I hated the fact that I had become a burden on the ones I loved. I hated that I couldn’t even eat without vomiting it straight out. I hated the fact that I was practically living off just water for those 4 days.

I felt hunger, but my fear of throwing up and how painful it was, was even greater. Therefore I preferred to carry on just drinking liquids. My mother was worried about me. She would say that I had to eat something, but I would carry on refusing. She would say it was bad for me, that I was taking such strong medication and having nothing to eat. But I knew that even if I tried, my body would immediately reject it. 

It was on Thursday, December 8th that I finally reached a turning point. My body finally accepted to eat. I actually felt, alive again. I no longer felt like a dying person. Of course, I was still very vulnerable and at times still felt nauseous and had little pains in my abdominal area, but I could take it. I was calm again. I felt like I was coming back, my happiness was coming back. That hope and belief, was filling me up again.

That day, I was able to go out with my father and get some fresh air. It was the first day I had been out in a while so it felt good. I was able to put my makeup on and feel pretty again, because to be honest, in the days prior to this I honestly felt like a dead person. I was also able to go to a dentist appointment I had booked for over a month. I still felt fine. But when I got home, my body seemed to give me a little tug, a little reminder telling me to settle down. It seems I was getting a little too excited about getting better. I couldn’t push it, I had to be patient with my body, let it heal properly.

I am now writing this and it is Sunday the 11th of December. It is a week since this ordeal started, and I am so grateful to be feeling so much better. I am still recovering, and I’d say my body is about 90% recovered. My lower back pain has disappeared. I still feel a little bit of occasional sickness when I eat, but mainly I’ve been able to eat fine. I also occasionally get a little bit of groin discomfort, but it seems to be healing fine.

One thing that this experience has given me is an even stronger feeling of gratitude to be here on this Earth and healthy at this present moment. I cannot believe that I ever took my health for granted. I’ve never been one to smoke or drink, as my drinking of alcohol would always only be occasional and social. But I did take advantage of my body in the past by not sleeping enough, and not eating well.

This experience has taught me to appreciate my health even more, and take care of my body. It’s shocking how one moment you can be seemingly fine, and then all of a sudden that can be taken away from you and you’re in a state of peril and complete vulnerability. We must never take our bodies for granted, or think that there will be no consequence to our actions if we do not take care of ourselves. I for one, never wish to suffer like that again and I will do everything in my power to lead a healthy life.

Since this has happened and I have been able to start eating again, I have completely cut out the junk foods, and opted for healthier food choices. I have also been drinking only water and natural juices, and I must tell you I feel so much better! This is coming from someone who would love munching on burgers and soda. I am lucky to have a fairly fast metabolism and not be overweight, I tell you.

From now on I will always look back at this moment and rather than see it as a dark moment in my life, I will see it as a moment where I was taught a valuable lesson. I had my back symptoms and other symptoms for too long, and I didn’t do enough to take care of them, I let them escalate and my illness grew until my body retaliated. I was wrong to wait it out, hoping it would just go away. I will never ignore my body again. If I ever feel that anything’s wrong, I will do everything in my power to get the proper diagnosis as soon as possible.

Sometimes we have to suffer, to get the message through to us. I will use this experience to better myself as a person, and to improve my future life.

I wish you all much health and prosperity. I am now ready to continue singing and pursuing my dreams at full speed!