It started Saturday morning. I began to notice a slight ache across my chest. I thought it was the result of coughing and that I had strained some muscle. However, it seemed to get stronger slightly as the day went on. By around 6:30, it was a lot more noticeable, but I still put it down to the previous coughing.
Went off to bed around 11:30 and the ache had now become a pain. I was now beginning to wonder what was going on. I couldn’t sleep or get comfortable and went downstairs to get a warm drink. My wife followed asking what was wrong. I explained about the pain, which was now much worse. We decided that we needed to call someone, as I was beginning to think along the Heart Attack lines.
K**h called the Ambulance Service and they arrived within about 15 minutes. The Paramedic and his partner were amazing. He asked a lot of questions and then wired me up to his portable ECG machine. He explained that he would do three scans to check the readings were all correct. After a quick study of the print-outs, he declared that he was convinced that I was suffering from Atrial Fibrillation and his partner quickly agreed.
Then the scary bit came, when he said, “Right let’s get off to the hospital!” Neither I or K**h knew what to say. It certainly wasn’t what I expected to hear. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe a tablet to put under my tongue (not sure what that does, but I had heard of that) and advice to see a GP. But the hospital was not on my radar at all. We asked what I should take and he joked that all I needed was a phone and a good book.
The next thing I knew, I was strapped to a trolley and we were hurtling along the roads to Harrogate. With blue lights flashing, as the paramedic wanted to get me there quickly, we soon arrived at the A & E of Harrogate district hospital. Things moved quite quickly. After the usual blood taking and a chest X-ray, I was found a bed in a Critical Care ward. All in all, about 45 minutes.
I was hooked up to a full ECG monitor and was placed on oxygen as my saturation levels were low. Well, sleep was out of the question! The ECG machine was constantly beeping as my heart rate changed and if you have ever had the cause to use a Nasal Cannula then you will know how uncomfortable they can be when lying on your side, trying to sleep.
I was in my own room, and there was nobody to talk to. The door was kept closed as there was a patient with dementia, that was trying to go home and would go into the rooms if the door was open. I had a full day and night of this before a doctor decided that I should be on a Cardiology and not Critical Care. I was moved to another ward at 8pm. This time it was a five bedded ward, with four other patients. Although they were all around my age, they were all local people talking about local issues. Not as boring as before, but I had nothing in common with any of them.
I now had a portable monitor which was linked by wifi to somewhere. This meant I was mobile and didn’t have to unplug anything to go to the toilet. I was still on oxygen though. Monday night passed without any issues and I found that I had slept for about six hours.
Tuesday was as boring as the other two days. For some reason, televisions are not on any of the wards. Something to do with the licence fee which I didn’t understand. So the only entertainment we had was a small radio playing music from a local radio station.
Later in the afternoon, a different Cardiologist saw me and explained that the increase in one of my medications had regulated my heart rate enough for me to go home. Hopefully that day. However, my blood oxygen levels were not good enough and I was to stay another night.
Wednesday morning came and the nurse that was taking my blood pressure and oxygen levels told me to take really deep breaths when the oxygen was checked as that increased the levels. She also told me that I should regularly take a couple of deep breaths throughout the day as a matter of course.
The Cardiologist came again and explained that all the signs were good and that I could go home that day. This was around 10am. I now had to wait for my new medications. The Pharmacist turned up at around 1pm and took some details about the medication I had at home. She explained that she would put the prescription in and that as soon as it was ready, I could go.
I called K**h and explained that I was waiting for my meds and I would call her again when I had them. It was 4:30pm before the Dispensary called the ward to say my stuff was ready. It annoyed me that with all the bed shortages around, I was taking up a bed, whilst waiting for someone to fulfil my prescription.
It was getting on for 6pm when we finally got home, and I have never been so happy to see the house again. It had been a scary episode and has given me cause to ponder on life, work and things.