This isn’t a sporting blog post, this is just something I want to document, so that I don’t forget it.
We’d been looking forward to going to Perth for about 6 months now, ever since we booked the tickets. I’d booked hotels in Margaret River, Albany and Esperance so that we can do a 10 day road trip in the middle of our 3 week holiday.
We were flying with Emirates and I really wanted to upgrade to business, even if just for part of the trip. That worked out in the end, and we flew in business from Munich to Dubai, it was pretty awesome! I drank a Leffe and had lovely food, Katja had some champagne, all was good in the world!
In Dubai, we went to the lounge, ate some more, Katja showered, then soon enough we boarded the full flight to Perth, this time in economy. A guy got moved to sit in the aisle seat next to me, with Katja being next to the window.
I’d been watching some White Lotus on the first flight and started watching again after we took off. After a little while I suddenly felt really ill and turned off my screen. I told Katja that I felt like I might be sick, she asked if I wanted a sick bag, I said why not – then I woke up on the floor with my legs on a seat.
Apparently I had passed out and Katja had shouted for help, the flight attendant had moved me to the aisle, where I passed out again, then I was moved to the emergency exit row where I now lay with my feet on the seat. I didn’t know what had happened but I wasn’t feeling good. I couldn’t stand up without getting so dizzy that I would pass out, even sitting up led to me feeling worse.
After a while I was moved to the very back of the plane. There was still 10h of the flight remaining, I just had to lie on the floor and wait until we would land in Perth. The rest of the flight was fairly uneventful. In order to land, I needed to be in a seat, they cleared the back row for me and gave me oxygen so I could get up and lie down on the back row until we landed.
They had said several times that I would be seen to by medical services at Perth airport when we landed, but just before landing they told me that there are no medical services at the airport, so they could call an ambulance if I wanted, but that I would have to pay for it. I didn’t know if I had travel insurance or not to be honest, so I was a bit worried about that.
After we landed, I felt much better and could get up and walk around fairly normally. My Dad had text to say that he had googled it and apparently some people are very sensitive to altitude and pass out. That seemed possible, so we collected our luggage and got an Uber to the hotel as normal. We went out and got something to eat, I had a meat feast pizza, which I couldn’t finish, but I ate 3/4 of.
I have had some issues with blood loss after long flights before see –https://www.richardrae.de/2016/10/27/health/ so the next morning after a nice breakfast, I went to the pharmacy and bought Omeprazole (a PPI for stomach acid) and an antacid. We then had a little walk around the town and the harbour, but we were pretty tired, so went back to the hotel to sleep a bit.
I went to sleep and when I awoke, the hotel manager was in the room and Katja had been crying. I was pretty confused, I had had some odd dream, but otherwise all was fine. I was informed that I had started panting in my sleep and then Katja couldn’t wake me, so she called for help, and they had called an ambulance.
It was a bit weird for me, but as I chatted to James, the hotel manager, about Liverpool and football, I started feeling a pain in my stomach, then generally felt bad. I only remember waking up with blood all over the carpet in front of me and James holding me on my side, apparently I had vomited up the blood. They called to check how long the ambulance would be, it came pretty soon after.
It’s all a bit blurry, but the paramedics pushed some fluids into me, but I still couldn’t really sit up without passing out, so they took me on a wheelchair to the ambulance using the lift. I don’t remember it, but apparently I was sick twice more in the hallway on the wheelchair.
After lying down in the ambulance I can remember things a bit better, I know they had the sirens on and that the journey was short. When we arrived, it was a pretty urgent situation, with me being immediately rolled in and seen to by lots of different doctors and given a blood transfusion (2 bags in the end).
Things gradually got less hectic and fewer people were around me. I was told that I would have a gastroscopy but that surgery would be on standby, in case they needed to operate. They said that the worst case was that they would remove my stomach – that sounded pretty bad to me.
(A German girl was also waiting for surgery having had an e-scooter accident and breaking her jaw, she was doing a longer trip, but probably couldn’t eat solids for weeks meaning her trip was pretty much over)
After I woke up, they told me that they didn’t find anything as my stomach was full of blood and food. I had to stay overnight and just have clear fluids until midnight, then nothing until the next day when I would have another gastroscopy. I was very uncomfortable in the hospital bed. I had canules in both arms and couldn’t bend my arms much, or sleep on my side or front.
Katja had left when visiting hours were over, I really felt for her, she had to go back to the hotel and worry about me until the next morning. The next morning I had my 2nd gastroscopy and they said they didn’t find anything again, so thought it might be a Dieulafoy, which is an artery that comes to the surface, bleeds, then disappears. This wasn’t great to hear, as they hadn’t fixed anything, but they said I could go home the next day.
That night was the worst night in hospital. I was so uncomfortable, hungry and my mind was all over the place. Anyway, the next day I got released after getting an iron infusion (I asked for one as my haemoglobin was 10.0 when I got in, but was now at 9.3)
We got an Uber to the hotel and I lay around feeling very weak. We went out to the supermarket in the evening to get something to eat (a protein shake and berry juice), it’s only about 500m away, but it was a real journey for me, I just had no energy. I was still having black stools, but had been told by the doctors that it might but be leftover from before, by my pants were constantly being stained black.
The next morning we went down to eat breakfast, I spoke to someone at the front desk to thank them for their help so far. We went to the breakfast room and were being shown to our table when I felt dizzy. I reached out for the closest chair and passed out. I woke up apparently just a few seconds later on the flood, sweating like crazy. The ambulance arrived and back to the hospital I went.
There was less urgency this time, I was rolled into a waiting area, but soon my blood pressure started falling slightly, so the paramedic put a line in my arm, he said it’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around, he was a cool guy and very competent.
After I started feeling pretty crappy and my blood pressure crashed, I was taken in to see the doctors again. This time I had some finger in the bum checks and the confirmed that I was actively bleeding still. The gastro team were very confused but decided to do a gastroscopy with a push down into the large intestine, in case that is where the bleeding was coming from.
I was then scheduled for my 3rd gastroscopy that day, I was groggy afterwards but just remember hearing from the doctor that they had found it. Back in the ward I was feeling a bit better. The paramedic had put my canules away from the elbows, so I could read or use my phone much more comfortably this time.
I started seeing that my O2 saturation was rising, it had been between 90-95, but after they had clipped the 10mm ulcer they had found, it was usually around 97%. The next day I was feeling much better and was soon off the constant blood pressure and pulse measurements, so I could get up and go to the bathroom and brush my teeth, luxuries!
I was told that I had to stay 2 nights after having an ulcer clipped, so I was in overnight again. In the afternoon I was allowed soft nourishing foods, instead of the clear fluids I had been on, man was that great! Custard and yogurt have never tasted so good!
The next morning after getting a soft solid breakfast, I was released again, but this time feeling much better than last time. When we got to the hotel, the staff told me that we could watch any movies we wanted for free in the room, very nice of them. They also comped us 2 nights and when we got to the room, someone knocked at the door, it was room service with complimentary food for us, very nice, 10/10 for the staff at the Parmelia Hilton from me.
The next day I felt really much better and the holiday slowly began. We went to the Zoo, then Scitech the science museum (it sucked, its for very small kids), then boola bardip museum – which was great, then Rottnest Island, then the Aquatic centre and beaches, then a day in King’s Park (whilst going for a blood check in the hospital on the other side) and finally to Mandurah for a really good middle week of the holiday.
We finally had to check out of the Parmelia Hilton, which we were pretty sad about, but we had booked at the European Hotel, which sucked in comparison (also generally!). We went to the Perth Mint and had tickets for a live music show in the evening, but unfortunately whilst at the mint I got my blood results back, which showed that my haemoglobin was 10.5, up from 9.2 when I left the hospital, but not nearly as much as I had hoped.
Almost immediately after getting these results, I started feeling a bit wobbly. We did the tour of the mint, but I felt a bit dizzy. After we walked back into town and went to the supermarket, I had to grab for a post as I felt so dizzy and I had to tell Katja what was happening.
We walked to the hospital and went to the emergency department, where they took me in and checked my over, but after a few hours released me again. I still didn’t feel good at all and didn’t for the next several days.
The holiday was pretty much over as far as activities went. From Friday when we went to the mint, until Tuesday when we checked out of the European and went to the Melbourne on my birthday, we did pretty much nothing as I just felt a bit lightheaded as soon as we did anything.
I did feel a bit better on Monday and on Tuesday, my birthday, I felt a good bit better. I guess I was just a bit ill or stressed and that in combination with my low haemoglobin resulted in my feeling like crap. I never had a black stool again after they clipped my ulcer, so I guess it wasn’t blood loss at least this time.
I was very worried about the flights home. I felt like there was a non-zero chance that I was going to die onboard. I mean if I bled like I did in the Parmelia Hilton, but was starting from a lower blood haemoglobin this time, and we were hours from medical help, I really thought I could die. This wasn’t helped by us seeing my gastro doctor on the street the day before we flew and he seemed unconvinced that the ulcer had been the problem…
Anyway, after waiting around all day for the flight, we took off with my heart racing. We got up to altitude and I lay down asap (we had the 4 middle seats just for us). Nothing eventful happened, so I soon calmed down a bit.
But the 2nd flight is where it started on the flight to Perth, so I was still worried about the 2nd flight home. Due to a strike, there were no flights to Germany, so we had changed to fly to Brussels. That meant that we were in a Boeing 777 which was very full, no lying down this time!
I had decided not to eat in the 5h before the first flight and nothing on board. I ate some toast in Dubai and nothing in the 2nd flight either. I tried to keep hydrated as best I could though. End of the day, nothing happened during this flight either and we got back safe. I think Katja was as stressed as me, we were both very happy to be back in Europe safe and sound.
So that’s it. It was a long story of a very unfortunate holiday. I hope my travel insurance pays for my medical bills, otherwise I might be out €10k. I need to have another check up gastroscopy in late March, hopefully all is fine then. I’d love to have a long term solution to this problem mind, I don’t want to fear holidays in the future.