Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Being Taken Ill Again

By the time we got to Dean station (by the way, why does National Rail call it Dean (Wilts), when the sign on the platform is clear it is in Hampshire?) I was feeling awful. My heart was going erratic, Breathing was awkward, and I worried that if I tried to stand up I would fall over. The only thing to do would be to wait for the train to arrive in Salisbury.

As I got off the train and made my way on, I ummed-and-erred about going on to Andover to go to work. Decided to go to one of the shops at the platform and bought water and asked for a paper bag - having seen on TV and films about breathing into a bag (the thought for me was that yes, I was feeling ill, but maybe I was panicking and making the breathing worse).

I went to the waiting room, feeling sweaty and clammy by now, and my fingers were tingling, like pins-and-needles. And clearly unwell, with one lady going to see one of the station staff, who discussed this with me, and - as there was no first aider - called an ambulance.

This actually embarrasses me. I hate people making a fuss over me, I hate being the focus of attention. But my heart was still erratice and I was feeling short of breath, the feeling I was about to collapse. When he called the ambulance, he suggested I was having an asthma attack. I texted my boss to let her know what was happening at this point.

And the station man mentioned that when he phoned he was told I should not be breathing into a paper bag.

The paramedic turned up and was asking me how I was feeling. I mentioned that my chest had been hurting, but now was just an ache - as if something was pushing down - but with a pain at the lower left of my chest. My heart was still skipping beats frequently (I often say this feels like my heart is starting to beat, then changes its mind). The tingling in my hands was going away. But my legs were feeling "crampy" - the best way to describe this is to consider when you've woken up at night with terrible cramp and you have to hop around and do stretches before going back to bed, and when you wake up in the morning there is that feeling in your calf muscles, that the cramp has gone but they feel tight.

There were the basic tests. First was blood pressure, then a basic ECG with the electrode-pads just on my ankles and wrists. The paramedic showed me the printout - there was a longer-than-usual gap between beats followed by a shorter-than-usual one. Then blood pressure again. Followed by him getting a stethoscope and listening to my heart and lungs. Then a fuller ECG, with electrode-pads on my chest - he suggested I keep my T-shirt on for this as it was in a waiting room, and I agreed with him on the grounds that otherwise he and his colleagues would have to deal with loads of swooning ladies.

There was nothing urgently wrong and he decided not to take me to A&E - firstly as I have had a few trips to A&E over chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness over the past months, and it has always gone back to normal after a few hours; and secondly next Wednesday I see my doctor over the Holter monitor exam so we can finally see what the problem with my heart is and then get the right tablet combination for it.

So I took the train back home, and as I walked back from Millbrook station, just felt that everything around me seemed clearer. The initial moments in the waiting room had been scary, and there was this feeling that I had before, that my life could have been taken from me, but instead it was given back to me.

Hopefully these incidents will stop once we get to the bottom of this, but I hope that I will be able to use these to grow spiritually. If you are ever in A&E, things get reduced to a basic level, and you realise what is really importnant to you and what things that seemed important are mere trivialities.

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