Royal Free HSopiral

I’m writing this at 4 am on Monday morning from a cubicle in the Accident & Emergency department, the ER to my American readers, at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

We arrived by ambulance around 11pm last night and our world has shrunk to the room around us, as we wait for nurses to set up drips and doctors to visit. Our obs nurse said she was sure she recognised my sister and me. I wouldn’t be surprised. Between us both we would have racked up enough hours in this place to book a round the world ticket each in first class, if frequent flyer miles were on offer on the NHS.

In fact we are here so often that when I sneaked a look at lil’sis’ chart a few minutes ago, I discovered we had actually forgotten the last time we were here in A&E: back in July when she managed to measure her length on Bristol station platform on the way back from Cornwall and was admitted here with a suspected head injury.

I hadn’t thought to return quite so quickly, but lil’sis fell over on Friday and knocked her head. We cabbed it to the doctor and were signed off, but by this evening her continual nausea and spinning were clearly a case of paralysing vertigo. I came back from Kent early to check up on her, and by 10pm I was calling an ambulance.

(We don’t call ambulances lightly in our family. When you have as many medical emergencies as we do, we tend to underplay, not exaggerate our illnesses, and we only live five minutes by car from the hospital. On purpose.)

The paramedics were brilliant, carrying her out of the flat with extreme care (she cried at every jar) and driving at snail’s pace so as not to exacerbate her vertigo. We have been in the best hands all night, as lil’sis screamed the place down. And blimey I never knew she had such pair of lungs on her. Because of the nausea and inability to swallow, she hasn’t been able to take her MS drugs since Friday and was experiencing whole body spasms as she underwent a total sensory neural attack, her hands locking and her legs kicking. It feels like being electrocuted. Add in the vertigo, so your whole world spins into crippling, spinning nausea with even a twitch and you can imagine the excruciating pain.

I waited with her until she was admitted in the early hours. I got in at 730am, and rescued PB from the AMAZING neighbours (thank you Jean & Herbie) and have just woken up. Lil’sis had another attack after she went up to the ward, but she is stabilized now, and I’m on my way there to deliver her hospital survival kit.

I just wish PB could come too. She’d easily fit in my overnight bag.

If you’d like to know more about Multiple Sclerosis, the brilliant MS Trust has information here

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Oh No!

I am so sorry to hear about lil’ sis being in agony! You are clearly such exellent sisters to each other…

My thoughts are with you.

Love, Eliza


I am so sorry, you two have had some terribly rough luck this year. I had vertigo once and it was totally awful, but not nearly as bad as your sister’s sounds – especially not being able to take her usual meds, poor thing. I hope she is feeling better now.

I hope this isn’t a weird offer, but I live very close to the Royal Free (on P Hill), so if you ever need PB taken for a walk while you or lil sis are in the hospital I am happy to do so, if I am at home at the time. It sounds as though your sister has lovely neighbours so I’m sure it isn’t necessary, but the offer is there if you need it.


Oh darling, I really am so very sorry to hear this. Glad you could be there for lil’ sis, but sending all the love and healing thoughts I can muster and wishing her a speedy recovery.

Briony xx


Oh, I’m really hoping for her fast recovery and stabilization from this horrible episode. Giving you all my good thoughts. Kxo


Very sorry to hear about this! Wishing both of you all the best.


Oh god, I am sorry. I know well what this is like…though without the NHS. I’ve wondered how both of you were doing ever since I saw the tweets sometime in last 24-36 hours. xo to you both.


thoughts are with you and your sis, am glad that you got some speedy treatment.
wishing you all the best


Sending you and your sister lots of love.


Adding my good wishes to all those above. Sending thoughts of healing and freedom from pain and anxiety to you all. xx


So sorry to hear of the dear sister being in such agony. Had no idea MS had such terrifying effects. Thinking of you both and sending much love from Scotland. x

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