Sunday, 3 February 2013

My Scariest Day

Well, I suppose I should mean Wednesday evening/Thursday morning & afternoon.

It all began when I was sitting at my desk about 9 Wednesday evening and was feeling quite sick and dizzy all of a sudden, with my chest aching. One of my colleagues was about to go outside for some fresh air, and I joined him. We then went back and I just had to sit down and felt I couldn't get up. One of my colleagues opened a window in case sitting by an open window would help me, but I couldn't get there, so one of my colleagues phoned for an ambulance, which at one level was embarrassing - I hate being the centre of attention - but needed to be done.

A couple of my colleagues (one of them a first aider) took me downstairs to the First Aid room where I had a lie down, hence disappointing those who were hoping that a man or woman in uniform would turn up in the office.

The first paramedic to arrive was from one of the response cars. He did one of these 4-lead ECGs and said what concerns him most was that my heartrate was down to a slow 42 beats per minute - but added that this could just be natural for me.

The next stage was to spray something (GKN?) into my mouth, which expands blood vessels. I am aware of the method from some of my blood pressure tablets which do the same, and when I first started using them I would be laid low by terrible migraines as a result from time-to-time, but rationalised this by the fact that it's better to be out-of-action one or two days a month through a migraine than be out-of-action 24/7 from a stroke.

Then two other paramedics arrived in an ambulance and told me they would have to take me over to Basingstoke Hospital. What surprised me was that they got one of their chairs, which are quite uncomfortable, and I was taken down in the lift and out of the building to the ambulance.

In the ambulance a second ECG was performed, and this was where it got scary. In with the normal pattern there was a little bump - which apparently could be a blockage, and if so I would have to have a stent done while I was in hospital and would be kept in for a couple of days. So the ECG was sent over to the Coronary Care Unit - the level of seriousness above A&E. They explained some of the procedure - I would have to have a local anaesthetic (I hope they didn't mean one from Basingstoke. I would hate to recover from an operation to find I'd become a chav), and a tube would go up from my leg into my chest. Apparently it doesn't hurt, but the thought scared me.

The message came back from CCU that I should go to A&E. As I said, if CCU were really concerned they would have told the paramedics to send the ambulance with lights going and siren howling to the nearest undertakers.

I also mentioned that my GP had arranged an echocardiogram for me in a couple of weeks.

Then there was the painful bit. I hate needles, but this was worse - a cannula in my hand so they could give me morphine then and if I needed any later. The morphine made my chest tingle. Nothing more. The paramedic in the back said the journey would be very bumpy, so I handed him my (unused) sickbowl in case he needed it.

We got to A&E about 1/2 past 11, and I was taken into a side room where I was hooked up to an ECG monitor which gives a warning ding-ding-ding if the patient's heartrate was below 45 per minute. The maching was almost constantly ding-ding-dinging.

One of the nurses, who told me that I have "lovely veins" (I bet she says that to all the guys) did the blood test, which is something I don't like, to put it mildly.

I then dozed, and one of the doctors woke me up (by this time it was 1/4 to 1)_and had had a look at my ECG. I mentioned that as I'd been given morphine, I was assuming I wouldn't be going home that night. She told me they need to do a second blood test around 10 the following morning, and I could expect to go at lunchtime as long as tests were OK.

Then I had to walk to the other end of the A&E for a chest X-ray, which is another uncomfortable thing - having to stand in an awkward pose and breathe out. Then it was off to wait on one of the beds and have 3 ECGs performed. One of the doctors told me that the tests didn't show that little bump found in the ambulance, so I would not need the stent done.

By 1/2 past 2 they had done all they were going to do for the night, and I was taken to a (mixed-sex) ward, but as it was late, I was given my own room. I did sleep reasonably well, although there was a storm outside and I could hear the rain and wind, and the basin next to me had a dripping tap that would not stop. I did think about calling a nurse and saying there was a problem with the waterworks, but was worried that they would assume I was talking euphemistically and that within minutes a urologist would be prodding and poking me where I definitely don't want to be prodded and poked!

I did get a few hours sleep, and was woken about 8 for breakfast. Then the hanging around for the nurse to take some blood. 1/2 past 10 I was still waiting, getting more and more nervous. One of the doctors decided to do the test.

Then more waiting. By 12 I was querying what had happened - after enquiries, one of the doctors found the lab had lost the sample. So had to have the blood test done again, but then I could go out and get some fresh air

And around 1/2 past 2 one of the nurses told me that the results showed no heart damage, and I could walk down to the railway station and went in to work.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

As It Ends For Another Year, The Problem With Epiphanytide

I remember 2 February 2001. My gran had died a few days earlier and my dad had driven up to Scotland to take me home for the funeral. One of the radio programmes we listened to in the car down had a clergyman talking about it being Candlemas and traditionally the end of Christmastide.

And today is, again, Candlemas. I doubt many people left their Christmas decorations up till today though.

And we only have a few days of "Ordinary Time" before the next liturgical season - Lent - kicks off on 13 February, this year's Ash Wednesday.

And all this liturgical calendar used to confuse me when I was at primary school, as in our Religious Education lessons we learned the life of Jesus. There He goes, up a mountain and into a desert for 40 days and then, well, it's time for us to remember His crucifixion and resurrection.

The message I picked up was that Jesus left the desert, had a donkey ride into Jerusalem and then got nailed to a Cross, with no time gap.

I think one thing that has upset the liturgical calendar is the way that we now have a Sunday called the Baptism of Christ just after Epiphany. It's as if the life of Jesus gets horribly confused - why celebrate His baptism near Epiphany (which marks the Magi's visit about 30 years earlier) and then go back in time to when He was a baby again until Candlemas? [Although I can see why, if one were a paedobaptist one would like to have His baptism marked at a season when we think of Him as a little baby...]

What message does the liturgical calender in the first quarter or third of the year imply? Surely the Baptism of Christ should be marked on, say, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday to hammer home the link between His baptism and His temptation, and more of a gap between the end of Lent and Easter.