Reeta Chakrabarti health: ‘I was in mortal danger’ Star recalls excruciating health ordeal

Reeta Chakrabarti reveals why bulletin is broadcast in darkness

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Back in November 2021 the newsreader, who has been seen on numerous BBC news channels both in the UK and abroad spoke openly about her misdiagnosed appendicitis, which started suddenly one evening with a sharp pain at the top of her tummy. Puzzled by her symptoms she sought the help of her GP to which she was offered a phone consultation. Describing her pain and trying to get across how strongly it was feeling, the doctor prescribed her a Gaviscon-type medication reassuring her it would “calm down soon”. However, little did both her and her doctor know, this was only the start of her health trouble.

Still in an extreme amount of pain the day she spoke to her doctor, Chakrabarti was forced to cancel her shift reading the Ten O’Clock News.

Recalling the incident, the journalist shared: “There appeared to be no question of me seeing him in person. I did as he suggested but the pain did not let up.

“Twenty-four hours after the pain first started, it was just as bad, and I started to feel quite anxious. The medicine had made no difference.

“I was confined to bed, unable to eat. I got in touch with NHS 111, who agreed that it was troubling, and they gave me an appointment at the A&E department of a local hospital.

“There I waited, along with everyone else, for three hours for my turn to be seen. A fellow patient saw that I was in a lot of pain, and volunteered to bring me some cold drinks, just like that — a good and kind man.”

Remarkably, even after a lengthy wait in A&E, a urine sample and an examination by a doctor Chakrabarti was told again she had gastritis with the only new developments that her inflammation markers were high and her count of white blood cells were borderline high too.

“There were no other tests offered; no ultrasound, for example. Not that I thought to query that back then. I was given more Gaviscon and reassurance, and I went home,” the star continued to say.

“The next few days I was not well. I went back to work, but did only a half-shift, and then pulled out of the next day, too. I felt wiped out and exhausted, as if I had flu.

“The pain in my abdomen became a general, nagging discomfort, and I had a bad taste in my mouth.”

With continuous symptoms, but reassurance from two doctors that her pain should pass, Chakrabarti decided to continue on as best she could, convincing herself she was being a hypochondriac.

Having fulfilled presenting duties, flown to Rome and wandered round the city for two days all whilst avoiding acidic foods and alcohol, she decided to seek help from her GP again on her return, but sadly she didn’t make it that far.

Explaining more about her ongoing symptoms and how she finally got a diagnosis whilst still in Italy, she said: “My tummy hurt too much. I was now starting to feel nauseous at times, and the taste in my mouth was going from bad to worse. I told my husband repeatedly that I didn’t feel well, but neither of us thought beyond the gastritis diagnosis.

“Ten days after the pain first appeared, we were in a taxi en route to the charity meeting. The pain in my abdomen had intensified that afternoon, and as we drew up to the gates of the building, I suddenly knew that I was about to pass out. I mumbled something to my husband about being in great pain, and then all went blank.

“The next thing I knew was his hand on the back of my neck, and his voice calling me from far away. The taxi driver had called an ambulance, and I was bundled in, by now in excruciating pain.

“The paramedic lay me down and pressed gently on my tummy. When she got to the bottom right-hand side I screamed. ‘Ah,’ she said, ‘appendice.’ ‘I hope not,’ she went on, ‘but perhaps.’ If it was appendicitis, why had it suddenly become so painful? Had it burst? If so, I knew that meant I was in mortal danger,” the newsreader recalled thinking.

Finally after enduring months of pain the star was told she was suffering from acute appendicitis, which had caused her appendix to become badly inflamed and an abscess to form. Chakrabarti was given emergency surgery to remove her appendix and spent the following eight days in hospital on powerful antibiotics.

The NHS describes appendicitis as the painful swelling of the appendix. It is notoriously difficult to diagnose but affects around 50,000 people in England each year.

The most common symptom is typically a pain in the middle of the tummy that may come and go, but within hours this can develop to the lower-right side of the body where the appendix is located. Other symptoms tend to then accompany the pain including:

  • Nausea
  • Being sick
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • A high temperature and a flushed face.

It is important that those who experience any of the above symptoms seek medical attention as soon as they can. This is so treatment can be started as soon as possible to help curb discomfort. If appendicitis is not treated, the appendix can burst and cause potentially life-threatening infections.

“I will probably never know why they both missed it. As the Italian doctor said, it can be difficult to diagnose, but it cost me dearly in terms of pain and anxiety,” Chakrabarti finished by saying.

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