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On Sunday morning I woke to the most strange sensation in the middle of my chest. It felt as if something (or someone?) actually had a hand round my heart and was squeezing it ever so gently. I wouldn’t have called it painful but it was definitely unsettling and uncomfortable. I got up and worked out in the garden clearing up leaves and in the house washing dishes and generally tiding things up throughout the morning and early afternoon while Wedny went to see her mother (released for the day from hospital to prepare her flat for her full return from a weeks hospital stay). I felt pretty good by mid afternoon and when Wedny came down the road late in the afternoon I was looking forward to a little light TV watching followed by some 8 hours of strenuous sleeping. However… (Why is there always an however?) while Wedny told me of her mother’s issues and problems the stress levels built up and I could actually feel the hand squeezing my heart and this time it was a little sore, not really painful, but definitely sore.

Hmmm, I have to admit that after the major campaign on TV about heart disease and sudden heart attacks I was more than a tad concerned. I did convince myself that it wasn’t too much to worry about so I decided to phone the Doctor’s on Monday and ask for a check up. I should say that Wedny’s recommendation was for me to go up to the A&E and get a check up there. I felt that was too much trouble for me and for the Hospital and anyway, when has any stupid husband even listened to their wife?

On Monday at work I tried for about 25 minutes on and off to try and get through to the Surgery. When I finally did, I mentioned slight chest pain and the receptionist’s reply was "GO TO accident and emergency NOW, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT 200 POUNDS. GO NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW!!!".

OK, so I may be exaggerating slightly but the… recommendation was still ringing in my ears when I came off the phone and as I was now thoroughly scared (and even slightly terrified) I decided to consult the font of all wisdom and called Wedny. Her gentle refrain was "I TOLD YOU! GO TO HOSPITAL! NOW! NOW!

I finally got the message. I went to the nearest hospital to my home, slightly further than the nearest one to my work, but strangely with my train season ticket easier to get to. I expected to spend the rest of the morning and possibly part of the afternoon there sitting in A&E reception as I waited, but that was not to be.

At 10 am I said the almost magic words to the A&E receptionist "slight chest pains" and was told to sit, as a nurse would speak to me in the next few minutes. Ha, that will be right, I thought, nipping outside so I could call Wedny and say that I had arrived (still in my nice work clothes, and with backpack) taking all of 20 seconds to do so. I was returning to the reception area when a slightly scary looking nurse barked my name at me. I nodded, surprised and then had to relate all my symptoms and time scales again. I was getting quite good at this by this time. She told me to sit down and I would be going straight into the A&E unit. A man hovering just a few feet away managed to get a question in, "how long will we have to wait?"

"ONE HOUR", came the stern and succinct reply from the Sister as she walked away.

I sat down. 2 minutes, and I mean 2 minutes later, I was called forward to the triage room and they did an ECG on me and told me to lie on a comfy trolley and to stay there. 10 minutes later, they wheeled my sorry ass still on the trolley through to A&E and started me on oxygen. 20 minutes after than I had an Intern (I think) check me over, poke me in all sorts of places and listen to my chest more intently than I had listened to anyone else. Half and hour after that I saw the medical Doctor (?) who I think was a SHO or Senior House Officer and he took some blood and sprayed GTN under my tongue. This made me extremely light headed and later gave me a spectacular headache which just about killed me anyway. An hour later I was moved to another A&E holding area still on my trolley and an hour after that, into the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) for observation, again still on my trolley. Wedny managed to find me and we spoke for short while in the A&E holding area before I was moved on. 

The porter moved the trolley as close to the bed in the MAU as it would go before asking me to transfer from one to the other. I thought it a little excessive but the nurses explained that this was because one of the blood tests was to see if I had damaged the heart muscle and if damaged, any further exercise might aggravate it. I was also told that I wasn’t getting out of the hospital until after the Consultant had seen me, and that that would be 5 pm that evening.

So I spent the afternoon sitting in a ward filled with ill and seriously ill people which, because it was an observation and admitting ward, had a very high turnover of people being moved about. I eventually had to insist that I could get to the toilet myself without being wheeled on a chair or peeing into a paper mashie bottle. Oh, did I feel a fraud and a waste of the taxpayer’s money. 

Now, I used to have a thing against that particular hospital (which I will not name due to circumstances) as my Father-in-law died there and Mother-in-law, Father, Brother, Wife and sundry other members of my family have all been treated in there and I have never been too impressed with the Victorian building (with respect to medical suitability rather than architecturally) or its fabulous reputation for loosing medical records. Once when I was there, admittedly over two years ago, they didn’t so much have dust bunnies in the corridors as dust rhinos, followed by herds of dust zebra and a few dust giraffes mixed in for good measure.

But, I cannot fault the attention or care that I received on Monday.

I was back there on Tuesday for a cardiac stress test and again the care and explanation at all stages was excellent. Again it just about killed me, but it was delivered with care and I was reassured at all steps that I hadn’t been the fraud that I suspected I had been. The Cardiac Nurse said that I should always get myself checked out in the case of any kind of chest pain regardless of what I thought. 

You may be glad to know (I know I certainly was) that I have now been reassured that my heart’s health is OK and all I need to do now is find out why I had the very strange sensation on Sunday morning. The nurse suggested indigestion. Hmmmm.

So, children, the moral of this tale is, if you have any kind of chest pain, any at all, GO TO THE A&E UNIT OF YOUR NEAREST HOSPITAL NOW! GO NOW! NOW! NOW!



Oh, and the corridors in that Hospital with no name are now kept nice and clean.


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March 2012

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