I'd been having strange health problems for almost a full year. None of the doctors I saw could explain them. I bounced from appointment to appointment. Dental issues, back pain, hip pain which led to difficulty walking, double vision, headaches, a lump in my ribs, weight loss.
It wasn't until Monday night, day three of a splitting headache, when I noticed a new lump on my forehead, that I called the NHS helpline for advice. I rattled off the last year's worth of symptoms - which a number of GPs had dismissed with "take ibuprofen and come back in two weeks if things don't improve" - and the advisor immediately urged me to visit A&E. It was both a relief, and a worry, that someone was taking me seriously.
On arrival in A&E, it was immediately apparent that something was wrong. I spent five or six hours being shuffled from room to room, blood taken and numerous tests done, before finally being told I was being admitted. They wouldn't let me go home until they had figured out what was wrong.
It was my first time in hospital. It was a strange, surreal experience. My parents stayed with me as often as they could, but the five days seemed like an eternity. The food was awful, the lights were blindingly bright, and the nurses had a special talent for showing up whenever I was just drifting off to sleep.
This drawing was done partway through my stay, as I struggled to keep my mental state stable. I was in a room with three other patients, all elderly, and over the week, I learned a fair bit about them and why they were in. Hardly any of us had working buzzers, so I would often walk down to the nurse's station to get help if one of them seemed troubled.
I was supposed to be in a wheelchair if I wanted to go any further than the toilet, which thankfully was only ten feet away from my bed. I hated it; I'm used to walking everywhere. The ward felt like a prison at times. My parents took me out for a ride around the courtyard on day three, and I almost cried at feeling the fresh air on my face again.
Finally on Friday, after a biopsy had been taken, I was sent home. The whole experience had been so strange and otherworldly for me that I was grateful I had these drawings to remember it by, or I might have thought the whole thing was a strange hallucination.