I am a wimp and a coward, afraid of the unknown, and I hate being ill or making a fuss.
I have been suffering from indigestion for almost a week, but kept quiet about it.
Thinking it was a case of OD-ing on gingernuts, they have been off the menu to be replaced by ant-acids, but to no avail. The indigestion remained.
Sleeping at night became a pain, literally. First of all I could only sleep on one side. Then a couple of nights later if I lay too flat, the pains started again and I had to sit up. I’d manage to doze for a couple of hours, but getting a crick in my neck didn’t help, and I developed a headache. I took some pain killers, but that didn’t help much either. On top of that, I started to feel breathless and a little dizzy sometimes.
Every day though, we have taken the dog out for her walks, and provided I took things quietly, it wasn’t too bad. Nights were the worst though, and yesterday after more ant-acids hadn’t eased the situation, I decided I would have to do the unthinkable, and make an appointment to see the doctor.
This is easier said than done. Our surgery is dreadful. You have to phone up at 8.30 on the day you want to see the doc, but by the time you are actually put through to speak to someone, all available appointments for the day are taken. Once, I was offered one of their ’emergency telephone consultations’ and the duty doctor would call me back. He never did.
We discovered that if you could get to the surgery before opening time (I did say surgery) at 8.30, you were in with a chance of getting an appointment later that day. The problem was, so had 50 other patients.
IF you have been successful, you will see one of the multi cultural GPs in the practice, and just hope that you can understand them. Hubby was diagnosed with a hip problem for pains in his side, and an appointment was made for him to have X-rays and to see a consultant at the hospital. He went, and the guy (very nice) said he didn’t have a hip problem. Hubby said he knew that, and that he, the consultant, also knew that, so would he be kind enough to try telling the GP that! The consultant was angry (but not at Hubby) and said he would, for having his time wasted.
Also, at our surgery, you cannot make appointments to see a specific doctor. Neither can you make an appointment in advance to see the GP you may have just seen for a follow up. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You have to ring up (or visit the surgery) on the day and just hope they can accommodate you. Sadly, they are the only GP practice available to us here.
So, as you can imagine, I was very loathe to try, but as the pain in my chest was getting worse, I really needed a professional opinion.
I should point out perhaps that a little over five years ago, I was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart problem. I was duly wired up for umpteen ECGs, they stuck a tap in my arm to draw blood, cut into my wrist (bloody hell that hurt!) to check an artery, sent me down for X-rays, and gave me a jab in the stomach. If nothing else, I decided then that I could never be a junkie as my veins run for cover at the sight of a needle, injections in the stomach didn’t hurt as much as I thought they would, and I could never slash my wrists because the A&E doc was making such a damn good job of it herself, I couldn’t bear the pain!
The end result was a possible angina attack, so I was given a Nitro spray just in case and sent home.
As I said, that was over five years ago.
Today (Sunday, how typical) I soldiered on, but by 2.30 I was getting worried as the pain was increasing. I stood up, felt dizzy and nauseous, and told Hubby that I didn’t feel at all well.
He told me to ring 111. This is the latest NHS helpline and the alternative to 999. I spoke to a very nice lady who asked me lots of questions, and told me she was going to send an ambulance out to me. I was to keep warm, not make any more phone calls in case they had to call me back and not to eat anything, though I could have a drink of water if I was thirsty.
Within five minutes, a car pulled up outside and 2 medical people from the local First Responder charity jumped out with their kit. I was put on oxygen as they checked my pulse and blood pressure and asked a variety of questions about my medical history and general health whilst Hubby looked anxiously on. I explained about the chest pain and my thinking it was indigestion. I was also apologetic for calling them out on a Sunday.
Seven minutes after that, another car pulled up with a paramedic who was welcomed at the door by Hubby and shown through to the lounge. He got his octopus ECG cables out, wired me up, and took notes of the blood pressure readings and pulse taken by the First Responders, then ran his own. He checked my sugar levels (hurrah, down from the diabetes check on the 29th), and proceeded to put me at my ease as he gave me an aspirin and nitro spray squirt under the tongue.
The pain was still present, and I was a little breathless, but I had confidence in the three people attending me.
The blue flashing lights alerted us to the ambulance crew that pulled up some 10 minutes later. They went through all the questions and check list as had the others, and it was decided to pack me off to hospital as a precaution so that blood could be taken and X-rays given to rule out anything untoward.
My blood pressure went up to match my anxiety and the pain in my chest increased as I was wrapped up and secured in the carry-out chair. In the ambulance, I was offered morphine but as they couldn’t find a vein and the pain was bearable, I declined, and a bumpy ride later (damn pot holes) we arrived at A&E.
I was on a stretcher bed now, and waiting patiently in the corridor for my turn for a cubicle. My notes were passed over to the medical team on duty, and I was wheeled in to the Resuscitation Bay where I was wired up again for an ECG. They put a tap in my arm and drew off several phials of blood which made me feel a bit light-headed, as my body doesn’t like giving up anything without a fight, and blood is no exception.
Hubby hadn’t come with me in the ambulance as he had to see to the dog who hadn’t been out since we’d got back from our morning walk. He sensibly also got himself a snack, then loaded up the dog and drove to the hospital. By the time he arrived, most of the paperwork had been completed, I was doing my impression of a thunderbird puppet with all the wires attached to me, and was sitting quite comfortably on a hospital bed waiting for the X-ray lady to come.
Everyone was just so nice! I didn’t have a tummy jab this time, neither did the Wrist Slasher visit, though they did connect me up to an IV for something to help relieve the pain.
I was told that if my X-ray and blood tests were clear, then I’d be allowed to go home. The Staff Nurse said that it looked like I had a severe case of indigestion, and a ‘reflux’ problem was aggravating the pain. She said to go and see my doctor tomorrow for a prescription, but when Hubby explained who our GP was, she said she’d get a prescription written out for me there and then which we could fill at the chemists in the morning.
So here I am back at home, very relieved, and so is Hubby. He’s told me we have to work on our communication skills as by keeping quiet, we almost had a crisis. I just didn’t want to worry him any more than was necessary, that was all.
I now have four thank you letters to write, as I cannot fault the speed, attention, and treatment I received today, for what turned out to be as I’d originally thought, indigestion.
But it could have been something much, much worse.