Thursday, September 30, 2010

Heart, Hospital, and Home . . . Part the First

I've been in hospital again. This will be the fourth time, the first when I had the initial heart attack (MI to give it it's proper technical name. Myocardial Infarction.) and now three more visits to the hospital in Milton Keynes, following bouts of chest pain caused by angina. The first time was when I woke in the night and had to go to the loo (as one does . . .) I think it was brought on by cold that time. The second bout was when I was working for Guardian and had to lift a wheelchair in and out of my car. I then had to go to hospital when the pain didn't subside. This third bout started two weeks ago. On the Monday the pain returned, and didn't go away. I used the Nitrolingual spray as usual, three puffs under my tongue, but the pain continued.   Carol said that I should make an appointment to see the doctor. I was somewhat baffled by the fact that I haven't had any sort of appointment with the cardiology department at MK Hospital in months and months, not some sort of follow-up after the last hospital visit. Then it occurred to me that they might have written, but that any letter that was sent had gone to our old address, which would explain things. Anyway, Daniel (my Stepson) told me off for not going, so I went to the surgery as soon as it opened, but they couldn't see me that day, and the receptionist said that she'd get one of the doctors to telephone me. I was then told off for not ringing 999 if I had chest pain. I went home, and later in the morning I did get a call from one of the doctors, and he said that he'd need to refer me to the cardiology department at the hospital for an appointment. Again, I was told, if the pain came back (as, by this time, it had gone off.) I was to ring for an ambulance immediately.

Anyway, things were fine for the rest of that day, Monday, until Wednesday lunchtime, I was about to sit down and do some reading, doing nothing very active or in any way shape or form or indeed, what you'd call strenuous, when the pain came back. I used the Nitrolingual spray, and just sat and waited for it to take effect. It is supposed to take about five minutes, but it didn't work. I tried it again, and after a further five minutes it didn't make any difference, the tightness in my chest continued.

At around 3 p.m. I was beginning to get somewhat anxious, and memories of the original heart attack came back, and when the spray had no effect on the pain, I rang 999.   By the time I got through to the operator I was hyperventilating, and I was told to chew three asprin (I take soluble asprin as part of my medication.) They taste bad enough when dissolved in water, but chewing them in your mouth is nasty, to say the least! I gave details of what was going on, and I was told to have the front door open ready for the ambulance to arrive. I was concerned for the dogs, so I got them into the kitchen and shut the door. Poppy is o.k., but I know that, if Alfie gets out he will run off up the road, although he will suddenly realise that he doesn't like it outside, and on his own, and then run home. But he has no sense of danger and would get run over. Apart from that, he would be in the way when the paramedics arrived.

At this point I was concerned that, if I was going to be taken to hospital, I would have to lock up the house, and that Carol would wonder where on earth I was. I imagine that she would have worked out where I'd gone, and she would be thinking all the wrong things, so I decided to phone the mobile (which she had taken to work with her, with exactly this eventuality in mind.) I rang the number, and all I got was my voice on the voicemail! I have done a somewhat sarcastic voice which greets callers when they decide to leave messages for us. I left a message, but was still concerned that she hadn't answered, and, besides that, I never trust these answering services and prefer to speak to someone direct.

Within barely five minutes of my dialling 999 a car marked 'ambulance' drew up outside the house, and a lady paramedic came to the door and came inside the house. I was surprised by the speed of her arrival, but then I realised that there was no excuse as regards getting here as the hospital is only a short distance, away infact our house is immediately behind Milton Keynes hospital. She connected me to an E.C.G. so as to do a heart-check. She ran the checks and then the proper paramedics arrived. I have never had a PRE-PARAMEDIC arrive first before the actual ambulance arrived. She handed over and then it was up to the two male paramedics to decide whether I needed to go to Accident and Emergency.

Then they told me, unbelievably, that I  might be going to Oxford Hospital, rather than Milton Keynes, which seemed odd, considering how far away we were from Milton Keynes Hospital. We went outside into the ambulance which was parked immediately outside the house, and they connected me to their own E.C.G. machine. It was from this reading that they decided I should go to A and E. In the end they informed me that we were going to Milton Keynes Hospital to have me checked out, as this is the procedure for anyone with a history of heart problems, and particularly someone like me, who has had a heart attack.

By now I was beginning to get concerned that Carol hadn't got my message and would worry where I was. I told the paramedics, and they told me that, once I got to A and E one of the nurses there could ring her.

I was able to lock the house up just before the ambulance drove out of the estate.

I had nothing with me as regards staying over-night in the hospital. Under any other circumstances I would have prepared some sort of bag with pyjamas, toothpaste, toothbrush and shaving things, as well as some sort of reading material, my iPod and something else to keep me occupied, as my previous experience of being in hospital is that I get extremely bored and need these things to take my mind off the boredom, but I was unable to organize any of these items. In any case, my iPod wasn't charged up, and I hadn't put anything on it that I could listen to in hospital.

It didn't take very long to get to the hospital. Well, it isn't that far, but it's odd being driven somewhere when you can't see where you're going, so I'm not exactly sure which way we went out of the estate and then which way we went into the hospital campus.

 . . . To be continued . . .
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