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My Diagnosis ( so far!): Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease - Part 1

Rachel Adam

Insta: @rach_hels88

When did you first get symptoms?

The specificity of this answer may seem rather strange- but May 26th 2019 approx. 5am! The previous evening, I had been at a BBQ with some of my friends from work (I'm a secondary school teacher). I had a fair amount to drink and had been out in the sun for most of the day/ evening (it was an unusually warm May!).

I woke the next morning with the following:

  • chest pain

  • Swelling of the tongue

  • Inability to swallow

  • Shortness of breath

  • 2 large red marks on my back/ shoulder, which looked like bites.

I hadn’t ever been allergic to anything; I had never had any kind of allergic reaction but from what was happening, I assumed this was some kind of anaphylactic reaction. That- or a heart attack. I lived alone at the time and had to call myself an ambulance…it was terrifying. As I waited for the ambulance, I became weaker and my breathing was shallowing; I really thought I was going to die in that moment.

How did your symptoms change over time?

Once the ambulance arrived, I was treated quickly with anti-histamine, steroids and adrenaline, but I remember TELLING the paramedics that was what I thought was happening. I was blue lighted to A&E and taken straight in to what I assume was Resus. I’m really not sure. By this point my family were there but the treatment didn’t seem to be working. I still felt like I was fading. I have one specific horrible memory of this time; laying on a hospital bed and screaming out to my mum ‘Mum, I am going to die!’ The nurses and doctors quickly pulled the curtains around me, leaving my mum on the other side.

I was then moved into another part of the hospital. I think it was the acute unit. I remained on IV steroids for a few hours. Nothing else seemed off: an ECG was clear, my bloods were normal ( or so I was told!) and my blood pressure was only a little elevated. Another memory I can recall was another nurse coming to put a cannula further up my arm as the veins in my hand had collapsed. Unfortunately he missed the vein and was pumping steroids directly into my bicep muscle! I looked like Popeye! Luckily my dad noticed. The conclusion was I had been bitten by an insect (likely a spider?) which had caused the allergic reaction. Please note, I live in Surrey, not in the Australian outback, so I was always a little baffled as to how this was the case.

After a few hours, I was sent home. I was prescribed prednisone steroids and further anti histamine. I still didn’t feel right but was assured I just needed to keep taking the medication.

My parents and sister took me back to my flat, but I was too scared to be left alone, so we all set up camp in my living room. I really didn’t feel any different or better than when I had woken up that morning.

At around 7PM that evening, the chest pain returned with a vengeance, I felt like I couldn’t breathe once again and my Mum called an ambulance again- 2 in a day! Again, they checked my vitals - nothing seemed untoward, but they also couldn’t confirm that my symptoms were just a result of the initial anaphylactic reaction - I wasn’t convinced.

How did things progress?

What followed was 3 months of constant A&E visits, GP trips and many unanswered questions. The symptoms wouldn’t go away. Every day, for anything up to 20 times a day I would have an ‘episode’ ( or a ‘funny’ as my Mum and I called them!) . This would involve, sudden and intense chest pain, dizziness, nausea, throat closing up and being on the verge of collapsing, muscle cramps- you name it! I was unable to live independently and had to stay with my Mum during this time. I couldn’t go to work and I really started to fear I wouldn’t ever be able to teach again.


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