Monthly Archives: June 2013

Fifty shades of grey

Physical EvidenceExternally, there is limited physical evidence of anything out of the ordinary.  I’ve been lucky to avoid invasive surgery, saved from the tell-tale scarring.  For me, the signs are limited to a small “nick” and some bruising around the catheter site.  Amazing really!

Inflicting further damage on the catheter site would not be a good move – apply pressure and call an ambulance – so we’ll try to avoid that!

My face gives me away though.  “Over-doing it” turns it grey, pallid.  There’s no hiding it.  Unfortunately it doesn’t take much to at the moment.  Still, some R&R and gentle exercise should get me back in shape in no time.

The bruising on my arm is a good reminder for me.  If my wrist is still bruised, I guess my heart, artery, etc. are also still recovering.  It’ll just take time.  The worst thing I can do is push it too hard, too soon.  The marathon training will have to wait till next week (again!).

Life is slow from a hospital bed (FD +3)

I’d never really thought about the pace at which I live my life.  The heart attack has forced me to think about everything I do.  I guess I’ve been “flat out” or “dead stop”:

  • Up and out in the morning.  I rush around the office, walking a little bit faster than everyone else.  Juggling balls as I go.  I’ve even realised that I shower and clean my teeth fast, hard, with vigour.
  • When I’m not working, I’ve tried to do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Resting from the exertions of work.

Life is slow from a hospital bed.  I’ve only been here three days, but it seems like for ever.

I guess things will take time to feel normal.  At the moment it’s not possible to walk (shuffle) around without worrying about something going wrong.  Every twinge is a possible emergency (and there are a lot of twinges!).  Showers are a deliberate affair.  Tooth cleaning delicate.  The vigour is gone… for the time being at least.

Even just lying peacefully I can feel every heart beat.  A constant reminder.

Modern TechnologyMy final hours in hospital are spent watching the cricket.

Apparently, up until recently, TV was “not allowed” for the first week after a heart attack.  After “Saving Private Ryan”, I have some sympathy with this view.  I am fortunate however that the cricket isn’t too much of a contest, the South Africans kindly capitulate removing any tension.

Then it’s goodbye… and home!

Emotional Wreck (FD +3)

… and I’ll call her Dignity!

Another average night’s sleep (at best).  I woke early, and put on my iPod so I could close my eyes and listen to some relaxing music… “Dignity” (Deacon Blue) got to me.

I’ve always liked the song, the sentiment and the story, but my reaction is a bit much.  Fortunately it’s early.  There are no witnesses.  No-one will ever know!

I decided to take control.  I set up the Blog.  I’ve done it before.  It’s straightforward.  It only takes a few minutes for the basics.  Immediately it helped me get my head together… do I want to be a “heart attack victim” or “heart attack survivor”?  Even in my current emotional state, it’s a no brainer! (Incidentally, try searching the 2 phrases on Google… I got 2.1m hits for “victim” versus only 111k for “survivor”.  What does that say?)

It was still early.  Going home today.  I needed to rest. How about a film to take my mind off things…

untitled (4)In retrospect, “Saving Private Ryan” wasn’t the best selection ever.  In fact, I may start a petition to have it removed from the options in the cardiac wards.

After the first 27 minutes I was wrecked.  Wrung out.  I hung on for the uplifting finish, but even that’s traumatic and laden with sadness.

Next time it’s Disney all the way!

Institutionalised

My days are becoming increasingly structured around the comings and goings of a busy hospital ward…

Wake up.

Breakfast.

Meds.

Making the all important selections from the menu.

Looking forward to the tasty, but slightly non-descript soup… Green Pea, Broth, Lentil, all bearing remarkable similarities to their culinary relatives.  Hearty and wholesome.

After lunch, a snooze.

Visiting time.

Rest.

Dinner.

Visiting time.

untitled

A nice cup of tea

It’s lovely to have visitors, but nothing quite beats the peace on the ward when visiting hours are finished.

The quiet anticipation of the tea round… a lovely cuppa!

I’ve managed to resist the biscuits… another step towards the slippery slope.

Everything runs like clockwork.  The faces change (and the quality of the tea!), but the routine remains the same.

Safe.  Comfortable.  Normal.

Should I stay or should I go? (FD +2)

I was at the point where I wanted to go home, return to some sort of normality, but slightly concerned it may be a little early. What would happen if something went wrong?  Will I be tempted to do too much?  Will we all cope without the nurses?

untitled (3)The one test I still had to have was the Heart Echo – critical as it’d provide an insight on how much permanent damage had been done to my heart.

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long… my number came up first, just as my toast and marmalade was being polished off.

It was strange being able to see my “broken” heart working away inside me.  I knew they were measuring different dimensions, capacities, throughput rates, pressures, etc. I could see everything on the monitor, but I had absolutely no idea what anything meant.

imagesCA3T6FW3I couldn’t stop thinking of people I’ve known at work that were “OK” at their jobs, or new to their roles, learning as they went.

It felt to me like the Sonographer had quite an important role for me at that point in time.  I hoped she was good!

I didn’t have to wait long for the results…

The diagnosis was that the permanent damage was  low to intermediate, “to be expected” apparently.   This meant that I would not be able to drive for 4 weeks (there was an outside chance it could have been only 1) and, if I wanted, I could leave hospital today… but leaving tomorrow was fine too.  My call…

Right… decisions… (I’m getting out of practice!)

  1. If I can, I will stay an extra night.  This will give us all time to get our heads around the idea of having a cardiac patient in our house
  2. Given it’s 4 weeks till I can drive, I may as well tie-in my return to work.  It had been bothering me.  Initially, the tendency was towards “the sooner the better”, but I don’t have to rush and I want to be able to do a proper job when I return.  I could start after a couple of weeks, but who knows what shape I’d be in.  Being able to commit to a date is important.  14th July it is!

Having made the decision, I’m told they need the bed.

“We need the bed.  Could you leave today?”
“Oh, OK.”
“This afternoon would be good.”
“Oh, OK.”

I texted Louise.  Much excitement (panic?!).  Arrangements to be made (school pick-up, snacks, etc.).  As soon as everything had been sorted…

“It’s alright.  I’ve spoken to the doctor.  You are staying another night.”
“Oh, OK”

Thank goodness for SMS and understanding relatives!

Sleep (FD +2, Early Hours)

Both of the wards that I called home were in a recently developed part of the hospital.  They were both clean and well maintained, housing state of the art technology.  Being cardiac wards, there was activity at all hours of the day and night – I could hardly complain given the time of my own admission!

InstitutionalisedIt did appear however that while a lot of care and attention had been paid to the medical aspects of the facility, some of the finer details of the joinery had been overlooked.  As a result, the doors were noisy.

Very noisy!

So noisy in fact, that I could have sworn that they had been specifically designed to be entered into the European Door Slamming Championships.

Given the doors were in use to provide access and / or privacy during normal waking hours, practice for the Championships appeared to be restricted to the early hours of the morning.

Practice makes perfect I guess.  I have high hopes of a medal for Scotland!

*

One of the few benefits of being hooked up to a heart monitor is that you can be monitored untitled (2)from afar.  As I was now “free”, it was necessary to “physically observe” me during the night to make sure I was still breathing.

Given the shock caused by the door banging, this sounded like a prudent approach to me.  The routine was a simple one… as soon as I had drifted off, a nurse would shine a small torch, three times brighter than the sun into my face.  I would jump, sitting upright in my bed. “What the #*%£!!!”.  And the nurse would leave, satisfied.

*

Let me sleep!  PLEASE!