Valued member, volunteer and fundraiser for the ADSHG, Jennifer, shares with us her experience of going into hospital during the COVID-19 crisis. If you're looking for resources for an upcoming hospital admission, scroll to the end of this article for our list to help you.

Jennifer's Story

"Hope everyone is safe and well.

There's a lot of bad news and worries in the world right now, so hopefully it's ok to share a positive story here.

I was admitted to hospital yesterday afternoon with a hernia which had trapped my bowel and was exceptionally painful. I was terrified of going to hospital because of coronavirus (I have no symptoms but obviously going into hospital is not good for self isolating! As well as Addison's, I am immunocompromised due to my systemic lupus causing low white blood cell count). But I got a telling off from my GP on Friday having had it pop out on Thursday night and having toughed it out at home to avoid hospital. My GP warned that if it happened again I needed to come to hospital. So that's what happened on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning, I got up and went for my daily exercise walk and then on Sunday afternoon after sneezing (hayfever, not covid 19), it popped out so badly I could barely move. Thankfully when I was discharged 2 weeks ago with an ongoing bowel problem, I was given oramorph. I don't usually touch the stuff but I managed to shout out to my mum who gave me a dose of that and after much squealing and dramatics on my part (đŸ˜‚) she was able to help me get up from lying down, pack a bag and get into the car.

Arriving at A&E

On arrival at A&E the 2m rule was easy to maintain as I was one of two patients in the large waiting room, which is usually packed. It was eerily quiet. There was a feeling of the calm before the storm. Lots of staff, lots of space, but not too much pressure from covid -19 just yet. They had also split the A&E department in half to totally separate covid-19 patients from everyone else. The only hard part was that I had to say goodbye to my mum in the car park, which was harder on her than me I think.

I was taken through to the treatment area quite quickly and given a bay as far away from any other patient as possible. In fact the whole time I have been here the only other patient I have seen is the man in A&E waiting room. Even when I was taken to x-ray the staff were super careful about keeping me away from others.

Surgery

I was admitted to a ward for emergency surgery. Because of Addison's, they wanted to do it in the daytime rather than out of hours last night. So they gave me more morphine and manually popped the bowel back in temporarily. I was given my own room on the ward. There are definitely suspected coronavirus patients on my ward (not sure if there are any confirmed cases) so I heard the nurses say that they had given me a side room because I am at risk. I even have my own BP machine in my room. I was super impressed and I felt as safe as is possible to feel under the circumstances.

Surgery was this morning. It was a breeze and I was pleasantly surprised, especially as I haven't been keeping well at all in recent months. The anesthesiologist and surgical team were very knowledgeable about Addison's and even mentioned it before I did! I was given IV steroids before and after surgery and a 1l bag of saline because I had been nil by mouth. I felt sick in recovery but some iv antisickness meds saved the day. I recovered well and was up and walking within an hour of coming round from the general anaesthetic. Already I'm back on oral steroids and going home tonight. I've to double dose tomorrow then back to normal on Wednesday. Just goes to show that if managed well Addison's needn't make surgery difficult!

To read the surgical guidelines for Addison's Disease - please click here.

Overall, I'm super impressed with my experience. I've had some pretty awful experiences in the past, don't get me wrong, but this time all the staff have been super and I felt safe and confident at all times, which is especially important when you are not allowed to have the support of relatives by your side to advocate for you if needed. Management of my Addison's was excellent and I feel that the hospital have done all they could to minimise my risk of getting covid-19. I was also pleased that with all the stress of the virus on the NHS right now my surgery was still done speedily and treated as an emergency just as it normally would have been.

Hope everyone is safe and well and if anyone else is unlucky enough to need medical help at this strange time, hopefully this story can offer some degree of reassurance and hopefully your experience will be as good as mine was.

Take care,
Jennifer"

ADSHG Resources to help you through a hospital admission

Before your admission, discuss the surgical guidelines with your medical team to make sure everyone is aware of the extra medication and monitoring you will need due to being steroid dependant. 

Have a copy of the adrenal crisis guidelines printed and completed with your medical details. 

Keep the emergency card or NHS Steroid Card propped up on your hospital bedside cabinet so the different doctors and nurses are aware of your care needs.

Put a steroid alert sticker on the front page of your hospital notes

Have copies of the guidance for Addison's available to give to ambulance, medical and nursing staff. You can either print these of yourself, or keep in one of our hospital folders available on our online shop.