Mental Health Awareness Letters – 3rd May 2018

As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I had an idea to write a letter each day to a person, or group of people that have had an impact on my own personal health. The first portion of the month has been delayed, however I hope that I will catch up and there will be a daily post. Thank You for taking the time to read these and I appreciate any comments or support you can provide on each post.

Please remember that if you are struggling with your health, both physical or mental, there may be some triggers in these letters-please seek support if you find these letters trigger any distress. Look after yourself!!

Letter 3 – To the people who thought I was ‘Pulling a fast one’ being off work for months because of my appendix.

You may already know that in 2016 my physical health took a turn downhill. Long story short I could have died and felt at my weakest.

Now I heard a lot of gossip (also witnessed it once, unknowingly to them!) and people thought I was pulling a ‘fast one’ to get paid time off.

Luckily where I lived at the time had a downstairs toilet because I literally had to drag myself up and down the stairs if I needed something, I even wet myself once trying to get downstairs to the toilet. I had the district nurse visit me to tend to my infections in my surgical sites (quite common with keyhole surgeries apparently) I cried most days and felt ugly, fat, bloated, worthless and mentally drained.

But people thought I was pulling a fast one because their relative was in and out of hospital and back to work quickly with their appendix. I was back to work 2 weeks after my first keyhole surgery (big mistake and pushed myself too far) but having had a good few weeks of fatigue, infection and illness even before having the appendix removed, the surgeon advised it would not be a quick recovery-my body was physically and mentally drained. When I managed to walk a few doors up to the doctor’s surgery a few weeks after surgery, almost passing out in the front entrance the nurse had to get the doctor to come and “tell me off” for doing too much because I vacuumed once when I spilled a pot of glitter on the carpet.

So to those ‘people’ who thought I was taking advantage of my employer by taking sick pay and sitting at home “doing nothing and making money” – I didn’t see you sending flowers, cards or even popping in to say hi. Your comments really hurt me and coming back to work to face you every day was so difficult, I almost didn’t come back. Then again that wouldn’t have bothered you because you don’t like me anyway.

Think before you make remarks!!


To any Healthcare Workers out there….

This article was submitted to my ‘Mighty’ page but has been saved for future release rather than being published straight away.

Roll back to early March 2016: I had just completed training for a new job within the emergency services and it was my first day “set free” to take calls and be “in training.” I felt strange, was having chest pain and really didn’t feel well. Within the first couple of hours into the shift I went home unwell. The 30-mile journey home was the longest ever and I was straight on the phone to NHS direct for advice.

Fast forward to late April, a very long six weeks later. I was still off work and had been to so many nurses, GPs, out of hours and telephone triage appointments I had lost count. That day I spoke to my surgery to request an appointment with a doctor and was told I couldn’t see one but they had a paramedic in the surgery I could see. By this point I had lost the will to live and just wanted the pain to stop.

I will never forget the kindness I received from that paramedic. I was told to go to the hospital and a letter was written and faxed to the emergency department for me to go to see the surgeons.

I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and while this condition is being talked about more, there is still a stigma with the condition. I had abdominal pain that had lasted about six weeks and had been referred to the surgical team, not the gynaecology team.

One of the worst comments I have ever overheard from a person was: “She has polycystic ovaries, just send her to gynae and they can discharge her.”

While this comment may only be minor, I also saw these people shaking their heads and asking about beds for other patients. Might I add, this person was a doctor.

Three days later, I had surgery and my appendix was removed and then two days later I went home. I continued to use the services of my GP, district nurse and NHS Direct as I had an infection in one wound that turned out to be two different infections as well as several water infections.

I will never be the same person again, but I am very thankful to that paramedic who believed me and listened to me and the surgeon who listened to me and didn’t presume it was just my polycystic ovaries – because it wasn’t!!

To any healthcare workers or those who wish to become a healthcare professional: If a patient comes to you with a problem, please do not presume it is “just” their pre-existing condition. Yes, take it into account, but don’t use it as the first excuse to discharge your patient.