08 June 2006

Thursday Thirteen and then some

I don't have room for a 'real' Thursday Thirteen today and anyway this is a much longer list, so consider my TT to be 13 points of your choice from the myriad below. TT friends therefore need not read, just add your name so I can come and see you tomorrow, that'd be nice.

Zilla cheered me up so much asking me to throw you/her a bone; because unbeknownst to the lady, that is about the most perfect pun in the world.

There is no such thing as coincidence, although I do have a standing joke that God/guides/somebody keeps using me as a spiritual glove puppet. I guess it was Zilla's turn.

I have recently been too hot, too dehydrated and a little bit viral and the trouble with being a couch potato slob when your mind remembers higher levels of activity, is that you can attempt to put on a sudden burst beyond your current capabilities and then suffer for it.

Specifically, I was feeling sort of bleugh-vague all day yesterday, woke with slight, near unnoticeable oedema in one ankle in spite of recent high levels of exercise and so slobbed out some more, keeping the leg up if I sat down, and avoiding the computer. I sit here cross legged, so its always the same leg that gives off the warning signs that feel like a lead sock.

DVTs run in the family (at which point blood doesn't so well), so I obey my ankle.

Anyhow, Son was off sick. Not sick exactly; someone stomped on his toe at the weekend and what with socks, sweat and school shoes that toenail was looking more than a little septic by yesterday, so I let him have a day barefoot. In the afternoon I therefore left him indoors (he's 11, but still...), and raced around the corner at the last minute to collect his sister from school, overdid it and set my heart pounding. After ten minutes stood out in the blazing sun and panting like a geriatric Labrador, when it was obvious she was very late out, another mother in the same boat offered to pick her up for me along with her own kids so I did another sprint home to make sure son hadn't set the house on fire.

He hadn't, but school had phoned. The kids she normally walks back with were staying at school for some reason, so she had set off late, and alone. Back out we went, although I could have done without it. It was the continuous heart pounding, head splitting and rather worryingly sore arms that convinced me I was overheated and dehydrated. Sun stroke or the like, you know?

I had another stint of feeling that rough at 4.30 this morning. It was a hot night, but boy did I wake feeling shitty, so I scared myself a bit. Exhausted and woozy and not geared up for repetitive or sane conversations, after googling for a while to see if I'd 'got something', I gave up and phoned NHS direct. When the receptionist put me through to a tired West Indian nurse with a difficult accent, forcing me to concentrate, and when said nurse started asking me all the same bloody questions all over again, when I also realised that lying on the floor to talk to her didn't make my head feel any better, I gave up and hung up the phone.

I woke husband instead, and here begins the daftest turn of events.
  • 5.30 am He called the GPs and got the answerphone
  • which gave no number at all for the doctors on call, but said
  • If there is any chest pain at all, phone 999 for an ambulance.
  • There was chest pain, but quite honestly it was more like an uncomfortable brick, and if someone could have just carved out the glands from behind my ears and chopped both arms off, I would have been happy. Still, emanating from those was ear ache, head ache and chest discomfort, of no more severity than you would get with a cold. Lets call this the originating enquiry, or DEFCON 4.
  • The ambulance service sent a paramedic in a car.
  • He was followed by two ambulancemen and within 20 minutes I was surrounded by three men in green uniforms looking to have a safe patient to take up the last of their shift.
  • Phrases like 'Oh well, now we're here we might as well" were used, and as my entire concentration was still centred on wishing my arms would fall off, I went with, to hospital. We'll call that a tentative step up to DEFCON 3. Thank heavens for Reynolds, whose insights into the life and mind of a UK ambulanceman allowed me to chat to these guys in a relaxed way and make them feel validated. By the end of the trip, one was volunteering how one local family called them out 276 time in a year for issues such as a sore toe or needing help reading the prescription on a bottle of tablets. Yay Reynolds; thanks.
  • A&E seemed empty when we arrived, but they still kept me for FIVE hours, because, they said, all the Doctors were at a meeting and there was only one on duty.
  • The woman who checked me in asked if it was a panic attack. When I panic, its not me that gets attacked, so that's a no-no. Someone else asked if I'd been under a lot of stress recently. What can you say to that? 'Oh I've had twenty three years of stress what with a violent first marriage, time as a single parent, four kids including two with special needs and I was actually enjoying my first lull in the stress department until you lot started pissing about'?
  • Still they took loads of bloods at third try, once they had finally made a successful hole in my arm.
  • The bloods were supposed to take 45 minutes to be processed.
  • Two hours later they got round to telling me that the doctor hadn't seen me yet because one of the bloods they took 'was no good' and they had to repeat. Hardly signs of any concern at all, let alone suspicion that I might have heart tissue necrotising before their eyes. I was being processed, and as far as they were concerned, it could take all day; I might even get sent home.
  • They failed to find a blood vessel spare in either arm this time and made another hole in the back of my hand instead and took two vials for the one job 'to be on the safe side'.
  • About an hour later I was seen by the doctor on duty. The other two vials had congealed too fast again, so he gave me two squirts of that spray (beta blocker?) for heart attack victims, which made no bloody difference at all but probably contributed to me nearly passing out whilst hanging on to the chest X-ray machine that they then sent me to play with.
  • This also involved yanking the half dozen skin contacts (those sticky backed things) off my chest so they wouldn't interfere with the picture, only to get wheeled back to A&E to have them replaced. Mercifully the ones on my upper arms and ankles stayed put.
  • So my heart rate has gone down from a healthy 70 something to 50 something due to the spray, my blood oxygen levels have remained at the 99 to 100 mark (which I claimed as lack of carbon dioxide and proof that I needed a cigarette - it didn't work).
  • Pulse even and healthy, no sign of a heart attack nor of a damaged heart working too fast; perfectly clear lungs, excellent oxygen levels, decent low blood pressure. The only worry is that my blood is too thick, so they:
  • Fill me up on aspirin and four little pink things,
  • Send me up to ECU 'just in case', having told me that a beating heart from over exertion is also known as palpitations and palpitations are BAD. Excuses excuses. DEFCON 2 just to cover someone's arse of the slim off chance.
  • Answers to 'may I use a real toilet' and 'If I don't have a fag soon I'll have a panic attack on top of this lot' were met with 'Lets just get you up to ECU and see then.'
  • Answer to the same questions up in ECU were 'Ooh no sorry dear you're on the machine now and have to stay there until 4.30 in the afternoon, so we can take your bloods exactly 12 hours after your last episode. This, including the inferred little confession that the three failed blood tests from A&E were worthless anyway, was after they had ripped and replaced all the skin contacts from my boobs, because the their machines had different design cables - A&E's one worked like crocodile clips, ECU's one worked like mini microphone plugs. I didn't know whether I looked more like a pincushion or a noticeboard.
  • It had taken five hours to get a straight answer regarding a desperately needed smoke, and I would have handled that response a whole lot better if I'd had one as honest sooner than that, before hope turned to anxiety and nicotine withdrawal turned to homicidal tendencies. So instead I handled it badly, and had to mentally toss up between bursting into tears as the only female in the ward, with the bed curtains wide open, or getting my shoes on and testing how much they meant it.
  • Just to effing cap it all after more than five sodding hours, the response to me donning my footwear was to help me unplug from the machine and hand me a disclaimer form for self discharge, until the doctor on duty panicked and came to try and talk me out of it, but all he could tell me were what tests I would miss, how they needed them to see if I'd had a heart attack (!), past tense; nothing about dangers or after effects, just tests.
Lying still was driving me mental - more so because the blood thinners and or the aspirin seemed to have made everything better at last; my wounded and previously unbearable arms were down to a mild ache and the other tweaks and twinges were gone. All gone. Completely.

So I got dressed, went up the corridor to a real toilet, dignity intact (I am NOT pissing into a cardboard bowler hat behind a flimsy curtain in a room full of bored, sickly and therefore very interested old men), came back and went to sign the form.

I was supposed to sign to agree that someone had explained the dangers to me, and my signature was supposed to be witnessed by a member of staff. They all hid, all became suddenly very busy peering into filing cabinets or pouring over medical notes at the front desk and no one would come and witness, so I changed the wording 'against medical advice' to 'against medical preference' and in the space for the name of this doctor warning of danger, I filled the line with 'No dangers, just tests'. I thought filling the witness' place to sign with 'no witness' was taking it too far and could land them in hot water. They were being nice after all, even if they behaved like scared rabbits, and it wasn't really their fault that I felt I had had the piss taken out of me all bloody day by jobsworths watching their backs whilst steadfastly refusing to give me straight answers until I was a gibbering wreck.

I came home by bus.

Husband has gone out to get me fish oil capsules and some more of odourless garlic, plus some aspirins, because quite honestly the thick blood could be a real issue, so I am going to take precautions. Here I am then, self discharged from the coronary care unit, and to be honest, if there had been any bones lying around a few hours ago, I would have been throwing them at men in white coats.

I guess I'm going to have to say bye bye to the ciggies now, but I'll start with giving up caffeine because I've had enough stress for today.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


Host of Spirits said...

Oh dear! You have had a day of it haven't you.

Knowing what the coronary care unit is like in Birmingham, and I'm guessing they are no better in your area, I'm not suprised you walked out.

But, (i'm playing mumsy this time) just to be on the safe side, go see your GP and tell him what happened and maybe have the tests the hospital didn't get to do.

Stegbeetle said...

There's never a dull moment, is there?
Seriously, watch out for yourself in this damnably hot weather.
If you're serious about quitting caffeine I can recommend Rooibus Tea:

although be warned that everyone else I know who's tried it hates it!

I've considered packing in the giggies but consider the increased stress could be worse for my health than the smoking!

Miss Cellania said...

You had me really scared there for a while, til I woke up and realized you wouldn't have written this if you were dead or still in the hospital. Very glad to get to the part where it said your heart was OK!

zilla said...

"...perfectly clear lungs, excellent oxygen levels, decent low blood pressure..." and you think you ought to give up ciggies? Damnit, woman! My ex and his wife just quit (again)! I can't take it if you quit! It's all about ME!

"...so I changed the wording 'against medical advice' to 'against medical preference'..." -This is where I started to wonder how guilty I should feel for laughing hysterically at your expense. Guilt causes cancer, you know (although some bafoons claim ciggies do, the truth is, it's the guilt) so I just let the laughter rip. Please forgive me.

You are so making this up. Nobody has a day as harrowing as this and turns it into laughter.

Seriously -- you're feeling better now? I do hope so. And I'm sorry for being a nag about a post when you were clearly too out of sorts to produce one.


PS: I've never really cared much for British humor -- you know, Benny Hill, or Monty Python -- but if you ever decide to do stand-up, I'm buying tickets, front & center.

fineartist said...

These bodies, these forty something year old bodies, they tend to flake out on us once in a while.

I'm glad yours has straightened up for the most part.

Thick blood eh? I've always heard that alcoholics have very thin blood, you might want to start tying on a good one every now and then, only to thin down your blood, of course.

Now get yourself a large plastic bottle of water and continuously refill it from the tap, until you have consumed at least seventy five ounces a day. Yes I know you will be so full of water that you will slosh....

They also say not to refill water bottles, but I'm thinking that is only if you drink from them, if you poor the water into another cup and drink from that then you can use the bottle to measure your intake.

I still have this mental image in my mind of you charming the medics while they drive you to the hospital/torture chamber...

So glad you are better, xx, Lori

jane said...

I was by here earlier, but Blogger was down, so I couldn't comment. Emergency rooms take so damn long. I'm glad you went though & it sounds like they got plenty of blood. Just reading about them attempting to find a vein was making me light headed. I gave Carly some of those 'odorless' garlic tablets when she was a teen & they made her stink so bad, she was banned to her room. We just couldn't tolerate it! Hopefully, they make them better now, but if not...I say this is a good way to pay back hubby for that attrocious hike!

She Weevil said...

Back to the doctors; sorry to be bossy. It's a nitroglycerin spray.
Many hugs.
Seriously, though, doctor's now.

Lifecruiser said...

Oh, my, the hospitals biggest fear, a witty patient *lol*

Glad you got out of there safe if not sound...

Take care.

TLC said...

Good Lord! Woman, don't you know that hospitals make you sick?

Did they harp on you about quitting smoking?

How are you feeling now??

anneberit said...

wasn't able to comment yesterday; but I try today :D Hope you feel better now and that you'll came prepared for the next visit (love the list above..)

Carmen said...

I thought the American ER was bad. :) I hope you're doing better, and here's a bit of moral support for quitting the ciggies. :)

Margaret said...

Sounds like I could have wrote this, but without the trip to the hospital, yesterday. Keep up the aspirin a day. I was told contrary to how it seems, drinking water more often won't help "thick blood" and could make your symptoms worse.

Instead concentrate on what you drink. Orange juice and sports drinks provide potassium. A cup of coffee won't hurt you just don't drink it all day.

Another thing I didn't know was to sleep on your right side as much as possible. This puts less pressure on the heart. In weight and gravity.

I'm a smoker also and don't plan on quitting anytime soon. I enjoy it too much. Ugh. When I do I will most likely use the patches and buy those "herbal cigs" that you can find online or in health food stores.

In the meantime, I'm not a doctor - but due to experience and your age I would suggest going to an endocrineologist (sp?) Hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, insulin, adrenalin, etc. do play a huge roll in what you seem to be experiencing. If their levels are off or too high - you'll experience a huge pile of problems.

Basically, dont' just treat the symptoms - try to find the cause. I really believe an endocrinologist will help you more and you'll get answers and relief. Just my two cents. Keeping you in prayers. -Margie

PixiePincessMom said...

My goodness what a time you've had. I know the hospital was frustrating but I agree with the others; you probably do need to see a dr. (I don't like going to the dr myself)

Lots of hugs & I'll add you to my prayers. I hope you have a better day today. :-)

Thanks for stopping by my TT.

Carol said...

Bloody hell, I'm having palpitations just reading that! Will be reading on, to make sure you are okay ....