And so, to hospital

I hate hospitals.

Really, really hate them.

Since childhood, I’ve been paraded around them for various reasons; hooked up to so many machines I hear the beep in my dreams. I’ve been sick on so many hospital floors, and each and every single hospital visit – be it a planned appointment or a trip to A&E – has left me a nervous wreck.

I’m not ashamed to admit this: I just can’t cope with it. The smell. The horrible lights. The feeling of vulnerability and the worry you’ll never sleep properly again. The strange faces and unpredictable noises… and the memories of the times I’ve been really, really ill. Vomiting up black stuff all over the polished A&E floor, tripping on morphine and hooked up to every piece of machinery in the world. Happily floating on a cloud of prescribed IV opiates, not giving the slightest damn about anything but going to sleep and not waking up again.

So yes.

I really hate hospitals.


But I also hate being sick. Admitting to a phobia of vomiting sounds weak somehow; it’s hardly the worst thing to happen to a person, but it utterly terrifies me. I suspect it stems from years of bulimia; controlled vomiting is entirely different to actual sickness, and it’s the lack of control I can’t cope with. Vomiting for days on end and being unable to take my meds, wash, dress myself, eat, drink, or even sleep in the same bed as S… it all took its toll, and I ended up in A&E this morning, wired up to a drip and covered in heart monitor pads.

I admit, it wasn’t the plan.

I had an appointment with my GP this morning – to check up on my medications, which need to be raised or changed, how the pain is going… I didn’t make it, because I was busy concentrating on not vomiting in the taxi on the way to hospital.

If you’ve never been scared of being sick, you can’t imagine just how terrifying it is. Every movement, every sound, every thought even… if you feel nauseous, anything can and will set you off, and it’s utterly horrible when it happens. I’ve never vomited as an adult and not had a panic attack during. It’s not a pretty situation.

So I lay there. Sat up. Lay down again. Went to the toilet a million times. Couldn’t get comfy. The only time I’ve been on my own in A&E before is when I took an overdose – the latest in a line of them in my later teens – and my mother flat-out refused to accompany me. I resented her at the time, but I understand why now. I tried to quell the panic by browsing the internet on my phone, reading boring BBC news stories about absolutely nothing, trying to pretend everything’s okay.


Also, there was an added fear. One I haven’t mentioned to anyone, not even the doctor; I figured anything abnormal would show in the blood and heart tests. A few days ago I was in so much pain – agonising, screaming pain – that I caved, and begged everyone I know to find me some ‘proper’ painkillers. Z turned up with some 30mg co-codamol and, later, a strip of tramocet. Now, I’ve spoken about my little opiate problem before, but recently it’s been pretty dormant. I haven’t felt the need to self-medicate or block things out with tiny white pills.

However, fever doesn’t work well when you’re trying to be sensible. I accidentally took far too many painkillers; I don’t know how or why I did it, just that I took more than three times the recommended dose. It was in no way a suicide attempt, because I wasn’t truly aware of what I was doing. I just wanted the pain to stop, so I could finally get some sleep.

Then, days and nights of vomiting. Sweating; that horrible chemical-tinged sweat you get with opiates. Hallucinations and awful nightmares.

So that’s how I found myself curled up on a hard bed in A&E, trying to explain my ridiculous medical history, clutching an emesis basin and hating everything hospitals are.

I just can’t cope with them.

They scare me.



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    • Thanks <3 I'm feeling much, much better now! Still not "well", but much more like myself :) I've had a silly amount of exposure to hospitals, which I think has clouded my judgement a lot. I expect the worst, but this time it was actually quite a helpful experience. The staff were lovely with me, especially once I explained about the phobia and being worried I wasn't able to take my anti-depressants. It's the hospital S works in too, so he popped down to see me at lunch time, which helped a lot. I don't think I'm quite so scared of A&E now. Hope you're well xx


  1. Im so sorry, I cant even imagine but you know I can relate :( Ive been sick for almost 6 weeks (not a stomach thing, thank god), and I still dont have a doctor. Toast managed to get me an appointment with my asthma/allergy doctor tomorrow, but if he hadnt, my family was going to make me go into urgent care. I dont think theres any possible way I wouldve went voluntarily. I feel for you, youre in my thoughts.


    • Oh :( I’m SO sorry you’ve been sick, I thought of you while I was in hospital and remembered talking to you about the phobia. I was thinking, “gah, I wish I had her to talk to!”. Hope you were okay reading about this. I know what it’s like to cringe even at the words.

      Let me know how the appointment goes, I’ll be thinking of you. It’s good of Toast to do that for you :)


  2. Oh, lovely. *sends hugs*

    I agree, hospitals are not pleasant places – after all they’re for sick people to go to for treatment to get better, so by that definition you’re too ill to be able to look after yourself.

    Having a phobia of vomiting is perfectly allowable – I know of someone who was so freaked by it, she couldn’t even deal with her kids being sick and then wouldn’t eat so she wouldn’t have anything in her stomach. She got help and the last I heard was starting to feel a lot less scared and was able to help her little boy when he was ill. So don’t put yourself down, it’s perfectly legitimate, and is probably something else you should mention next time you see your GP.


      • Glad to be of help, even if it’s just a thought. We do pick up a lot of our behaviours from our parents, don’t we?

        The weather where I am right now is just cold and frosty – but then I am at my parents’ in Cheshire. From what I’ve seen on Facebook however, Whitby has rather a lot of snow and more falling, which means that travelling back tomorrow on the train might get interesting!


          • It should be fine – I change at Manchester Picadilly and that’s under cover. It’ll get most interesting when I get to Scarborough and have to get the bus!

            It’s been a good week to see my family, a little bit stressful for me on occasion (due to the fact that I’m not used to things like the phone constantly ringing) but it’s been good to see everyone, and I managed to get over to Chester a couple of times to see some people there too. I’ve not been able to see everyone I would have liked to see, but if I’d tried to do that it wouldn’t have been restful!

            I think the whole country is expecting snow tomorrow. I’ll be wearing almost all the clothes I own to travel in, I think!


  3. Much love from a newly-fallen Maine snow out my window. I understand what you describe in your feelings about hospitals — I’ve not been recently, but fewer than ten years back, I spent a winter in and out about once every three or four days. Does S. know what happened. Remember, be open and honest with him — the only way to have a true, solid relationship is to trust. I am sorry you felt so crappy — did anyone every decided what caused the initial problem? Please, try not to berate yourself over this. We have no limit on the number of do-overs we get, unless we are talking end-of-life scenarios. You have a generous heart and a lovely, giving soul — please cut yourself some slack. 8-) Love you!


    • S doesn’t know about the painkillers. I dithered over whether to tell him, and came to the conclusion there was no point worrying him about an honest mistake, and my blood tests came back fine (apart from low potassium, which is to be expected after so much vomiting!) so luckily I didn’t do any damage. In a strange way, my past addictions have cushioned me from the damage it could cause; a weird positive, but one nonetheless.

      We have a medicine cabinet in the bathroom with a lock on it, so I’ve told S that if I ever start acting a bit weird or seem to be spacing out a lot, he’s to lock the cabinet with painkillers in. I haven’t self-medicated (apart from for genuine physical pain) since we moved in together, and I think I feel comfortable saying those addictions, while they’ll always be with me, were down to a situation I found myself in and couldn’t get out of. I’m out of it now, and the last thing I ever want to do it go back.

      They weren’t sure what caused the problem; either something bacterial or viral. Possibly norovirus, as it’s been doing the rounds here recently, although I didn’t have some of the major symptoms. They gave me some anti-sickness pills for a week and told me to come back if I can’t take my meds, but so far they’ve stayed down and I’m eating a little again :)

      Love you too, chuck! We’re expecting snow tomorrow, which doesn’t happen often here on the coast. I bet it looks gorgeous where you are.


  4. A lot of people hate hospitals. I’ve never really experienced them enough to develop any sort of an attitude towards them. I’ve certainly Never been admitted into one, I’ve only ever gone to hospitals to visit family members.
    To me, hospitals are like a place where you go to get cured. And therefore, they’re a place full of hope.

    I’m not sure whether it is a phobia or not, but I strongly dislike vomiting. You’re probably thinking – Who likes it, though?
    But it’s more than your usual amount of dislike. As a kid, I used to burst into tears whenever I felt nauseous. It was extremely discomforting. The lack of control was worse. You can neither prevent yourself from feeling so bad, nor could I induce myself to vomit. As an adult, I don’t cry when I get sick, but there are times when I really really want to. It’s the feeling of hanging in mid-air, when I’m not vomiting, but feeling terribly nauseous anyway, that I hate the most.


    • I’m honestly glad for anyone who has a positive experience of hospitals. I don’t mean to say I’ve never had one; strangely, being in A&E this time was a good experience, bar the being sick! The doctors and nurses were lovely, and everything was dealt with really quickly and efficiently. I’m thinking of sending the staff a little card to say thank you for changing my mind on what A&E can be like.

      To me… it’s a phobia because I’ll do anything in my power to avoid being sick. Anything which might set me off, I stay well away from, even if there’s no real risk, and if I feel even the slightest bit nauseous I’ll lie down and not even move until it passes. During that time, it’s like I turn into a crazed banshee… I don’t know if it’s a true phobia in the psychological sense, but it certainly affects everyday life. I won’t drink black coffee because I once vomited after having some, even though I know it’s nothing to do with the coffee itself, and there’s certain basic painkillers I won’t take for the same reason. Sometimes I wonder if I should talk to someone about it, but it’s better than it was. I used to go absolutely crazy; now I can sort of rationalise it a little, even if not much. Getting there :)

      That feeling of hanging in mid air… that’s a perfect description. You have a habit of putting things perfectly.


      • Yeah, you should do that. I don’t know if A&E frequently receives cards from grateful ex-patients :)

        I used to detest swallowing pills, because I used to choke on them and feel nauseous. Necessity, and improvement in pill-swallowing skills (if there’s anything like that in the world!) has made that ‘phobia’ go away. I understand your ‘crazed banshee’-ness, and I don’t think it’s really all that crazy. :)
        But yeah, these things can hamper everyday life, so I’m glad you’re getting there!


  5. I’m so sorry you’ve been ill. I would rather have a root canal without pain killers than vomit and have always felt that way. The lack of control can be terrifying and makes me angry. Please feel better and know that kind thoughs are coming your way.


    • It makes me angry too; this sounds weird, but it’s almost like I’m being punished for something when I’m sick. It really frustrates me, but in a very strange way I’m glad others feel the same way about being sick. Thanks chuck; I’m feeling much better now, they gave me plenty of fluids and kept a close eye on me and gave me some anti-emetics for a week. Still a bit dizzy and out of sorts, but much, much better. Hope you’re well. x


  6. sorry you feel so bad…I completely relate though. Hate hospitals. People go into them and die or they screw stuff up. I don’t have a high opinion of the medical profession. it’s let me and my family down in major ways too many times. Plus now that I have fibro, it makes everything even more difficult, Ugh. Sending oodles of empathy your way.
    And vomiting. Hate that too. Not the extreme averse reaction that my mum and aunt have, but I’ll still do EVERYTHING I can to avoid throwing up. Probably why I have such an unhappy bowel…!
    Heh – yet when I was healthy enough to teach, the teaching assistant and I had a deal. I cleaned up the puke she did the poop. I could handle the vomit easier. The poop (and when kids poop themselves in school its coz they’re ill and it stinks.) that always made me wretch more.
    Sorry – probably a bit too much information for a first comment ;(
    Healing, gentle ((((hugs))))


  7. I have been in the same situation (without the vomiting).I was in for 5 weeks in May and June and left feeling taller, more than great and ready to take the world on. However that lasted about 4 months and then I found myself in hospital again for a month and have. It was too comfortable, too pleasant and some folks really make a habit of living there. For me I just want the hospital merry go round to slow done so I don’t have to get back.

    Thanks for the insightful post – Terry


    • I have had long spells in hospital, although I found my experience was very different to yours. I’ll do anything to get out of one, and I’ve signed myself out on a number of occasions against doctor’s advice; I simply can’t cope with how hospitals feel. I like to have my own things around me and deal with the same faces every day.

      I can imagine though that it does become very comfortable for some, and it’s easy to become institutionalized. Thanks for reading..


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