Strange and scary . . .


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Awful afternoon


I was about a hundred metres down the road, when I spotted the Police car behind me. A quick look at the speedo’ showed me I was under the limit. Just! So I drove the whole road at 58 miles per hour, with the police car 20 foot behind me. Now, will he turn into the village, or is he going straight on? Nope, he’s sticking with me. Should I go along the main road, or up the hill? Main road, I think? Bloody cop is still with me. He’ll be on to Clifford, I thought as I turned into my street. Oh dear, an ambulance. I wonder who has died now. Just a minute….. it’s just moved, then stopped outside our house. There’s a police car there too. What the fuck is going on? I parked and got out of the car. The police that had been behind me was now parked outside our house too!!!! What in God’s name…..

“Alright mate?” asked the police officer that had been behind me.

“Er…..yeah. Thanks. What er……”

I went inside, and the scene that greeted me was bizarre to say the least. S**** was sat on the floor, holding onto R***. K*** was trying to explain to the two paramedics, what R*** and his Autism was about. R*** was looking very pale and shaken, and sobbing a little. The two paramedics were trying to talk to R*** to see if he was okay, but getting no response as usual. The two police officers were stood around, looking genuinely concerned but clueless (not their fault, probably never dealt with someone like R*** before).

Apparently R*** had had an ‘episode’. Not the usual, type of ‘episode’. This time the medication did not work and he had completely lost it. Both K*** and S**** were concerned for theirs and R***’s safety, and that’s why the emergency services had been called. It must be standard if there is any kind of violence that the police attend, which is why the ambulance had parked up before our house first.

The paramedics were great. They asked what we wanted to do with R***. Did we want him to go to hospital or what. Well, I thought that if he went to hospital, the first thing they would do would be to get a psych doctor, and sedate him. That would not solve anything. The paramedics stuck with us, and were there a good hour, testing his blood pressure, SATS and everything. The police were being looked after by S****, doing his ‘coffee shop’ thing.

He calmed down, enough for them to leave, but he was still very hyperactive after they had gone. It is now 23:45, and he is still up. Quite calm, but it is like living on an knife edge. We just don’t know if he is settled or if we are going to have some more.

I have to say though, I felt that the paramedics did a brilliant job. What did get me though was the paperwork they had to fill in. That took over 20 minutes to do. C’mon, give them some technology!!! I mean, in this day and age, they still have to fill in paper forms. Dear Health Secretary, if those forms were electronic, and on a Tablet PC or an iPad, then maybe less time would be spent filling in  paper!!!!