In the UK, we have the much-talked-about National Health Service (NHS for short). It provides free healthcare to UK residents, and means that wherever you are in the UK, you can visit a doctor or hospital for free. And good heavens, I'm glad of that, because otherwise I'd be looking at a big old medical bill as a result of the last few weeks.
3 weeks ago, I woke up with a weird abdominal pain. I was shooting a custom video, and then going on to a bondage shoot later that afternoon. So I took some painkillers and did both shoots. At 10pm I finished work, and drove from London to Yorkshire for a shoot the next day. I arrived at my hotel at about 1am, feeling kind of ill, and went to bed. The next day I was still in pain, so I went to my lingerie shoot, took painkillers, and decided to go to hospital on the way to my next shoot (which was further up North).
I arrived with the lovely http://www.petandponygirls.com/ who kindly drove me to their nearest emergency healthcare centre (which isn't a hospital, it's like a little mini clinic for minor illness). DOCTOR NUMBER 1, I have to say, was really rubbish. He poked at my tummy, told me I was 'probably ok' and told me to take painkillers. Which wasn't all that reassuring. So I returned to the Pet and Ponygirl studio, took some painkillers, and went to bed.
I shot with them for 2 days, which was, as always, lovely, but passed in a kind of blur of pain. When the shoot was over, I drove down to the Midlands to stay with my sister. She helped me make an appointment with her local GP for the next day.
DOCTOR NUMBER 2 was really kind. She said she couldn't really help much unless I stayed in the area for tests, but suggested.... painkillers.
Later that afternoon, the pain was worse, so I telephoned the national medical helpline thing. Which is notoriously hopeless, but they were also very kind, and suggested another emergency clinic I could visit.
DOCTOR NUMBER 3 was also very kind. She suggested that maybe I'd picked up an infection on location (I do work in some extraordinarily grubby places) and gave me an antibiotic. I was very, very happy.
The next day, I drove West to meet up with the BDM for a big, week-long location shoot for http://www.restrainedelegance.com . There were multiple models arriving, and a big crew. I was meant to be both (whoop, am enjoying learning to rig!) Two days in, I was in more pain, so the BDM took me to hospital after we'd finished work for the day (thank you, and I'm so sorry to the models and crew who we abandoned for the evening)
DOCTOR NUMBER 4 thought I should be properly examined so kept me in hospital for a few hours. After doing blood tests they weren't sure what was wrong, so gave me another antibiotic. Which I was very grateful for, but started to wonder whether it was actually going to help.
We finished our shoot, I managed to model on the last day (painkillers!) and we set off to celebrate the BDM's birthday at a hotel I'd booked near to the UK Space Centre, which we were visiting the next day. By midnight, I was in so much pain that the BDM called an ambulance and we went to hospital again....
DOCTOR NUMBER 5 decided I should have an ultrasound scan, so I stayed in hospital overnight, and had a scan the next morning. It didn't work properly, and they didn't have the equipment to do all the tests they needed to do, so they sent me home, and said they'd send me an appointment through the post. We drove back home (no Space Centre visit, boo) and I went to bed with some painkillers.
Two days later, the pain was so bad (and spreading, rather alarmingly, upwards) that the BDM took me to our local hospital's emergency department. DOCTOR NUMBER 6 took blood tests (I hate them, HATE THEM) and was, I'm sorry to say, not very helpful. She went off to talk to someone more senior, and came back to say that I should, umm, take painkillers. And that my brain might be sending random pain signals to my abdomen for no reason, and that it might stop on it's own. I started to feel rather despairing, especially because the BDM's birthday party was the next day, and we were having lots of people to stay....
At lunchtime the next day, the painkillers weren't working, and after hiding from the birthday party for a couple of hours I went back to hospital (this time, in case it's useful for you in the future, to the out-of-hours GP service). Thank heavens for DOCTOR NUMBER 7. She got me admitted to hospital properly, and after being there for a couple of days, they discovered a ruptured ovarian cyst. I was so, so relieved that there was a reason for all the pain, and very grateful that I didn't have to pay for all those hospital visits. I'm a bit disappointed that it took so many visits before someone helped properly - I'm not fabulously assertive, but I'm thinking that if I'd been even less so, I might still be at home, taking painkillers and being scared of bothering any more doctors.
Thank you, and sorry to the following people;-
To Pet-and-Ponygirls.com for taking me to a doctor in the first place, and for a shoot that managed to still be fun despite not being super well. I do hope the videos don't reflect that.
To my sister, who was lovely, as always, and helped me find telephone numbers.
To all the models and crew on the Restrained Elegance shoot, who were fab to work with, and forgiving of my regular disappearances. Thanks for still letting me tie you up, Sophia, Janey and Fi.
To the staff of Coventry University Hospital (who, I'm thinking, probably don't read this blog)
To my friend P, who'd booked me for a spanking shoot, and couldn't have been kinder about reassuring me that it was ok to cancel. I'm so sorry, especially since you'd worked on a lovely script.
To my friend J, who was also fabulous about my letting him down at pretty short notice. Thank you again for your concern and courtesy.
To all the other photographers and models who've missed shoots because of me this week and next week. Thank you for being so generous about it, and I hope not to let you down again.
To the crew of http://www.firmhandspanking.com who'd assembled a cast and location for our shoot next week. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you for not insisting we go ahead with the shoot.
To my Mum (who also probably doesn't read this blog, but you never know!) who abandoned her goats, dogs, husband, and house move to come and visit me in hospital.
To the staff of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, for not just sending me home with more painkillers, and giving me so much jam sponge and custard. Brilliant!
To everyone who sent texts, emails and cards. I didn't tell anyone I didn't have to for work reasons, because I was too upset and scared, so sorry to everyone I didn't contact.
And finally, thank you to the BDM, who's shoot I disrupted, who's birthday I ruined, who's party I missed, and who's driven me from hospital to hospital, always being calm and rational. And who's suspended all dom-lyness in order to be the best sort of boyfriend for a rather weepy, ill girlfriend.
I'm still on drugs, but hopefully on the mend, and shall post again when I'm ok. Sorry for the non-hot post!