I had been carrying buckets of granite up a hill for several hours. It had become so hard that I needed to sit down. I was short on breath, my chest felt tight and I was sweating. It was not the first time I had suffered this but it was the worst. I called my wife over and let her know I felt unwell. “I don’t want you to panic but I think you need to call the clinic and book me in.”
Several minutes later I was at the clinic where they took me into a room and connected an ECG to me. The male nurse was watching the print out, his head rapidly going from side to side looking quite agitated. He came over and put an oxygen mask on me while assuring me everything was fine – he was far from convincing. He left the room and came back with a doctor. She informed me I was in Atrial Fibrillation, that my heart rate at rest was over 200 bpm and was irregular. An ambulance had been called and I was to be taken to a bigger hospital 60 kms away. In the mean time I was put on a saline drip.
My wife had now managed to find a parking space only to come into the clinic and find me connected to tubes, wires and wearing a mask while being lifted over to the ambulance trolley. The worry in her eyes was quickly noticed by all. The ambulance drivers told her not to follow but to ring later and ask how I was. They told me to leave everything behind including my shoes as they might be stolen. All I had was the trousers I was wearing. The drive over was slow. Every 15 minutes they had to check me over and the equipment only worked while the vehicle was stationary. They also gave me an asprin to thin my blood. The situation now felt unreal and completely out of my hands. The paramedics were great and very reassuring.
On arrival at the hospital they wheeled me out in 4 degrees Celcius. Very cold but within a minute I was indoors. Each person I had spoken to including the paramedics took a full history – I was getting sick of telling it. One of the most important features was how long I had been suffering because once it was over 10 hours they gave blood thinners. I was connected up to their monitors and told to relax. For a while I could see the monitor so tried doing things to slow down my heart. I found laughing and farting to have an effect as well as holding onto my breath. Seeing me looking at the monitor they turned it around to block my view.
They told my wife I would be in for the night but she could visit even though it was late. She drove over at 10 pm to find I had reverted without medication and was about to be released. She had brought no shirt or shoes as I wasn’t to be released until the morning. The hospital supplied my with surgical booties and an old surgical top with no back in it. I had to wear this standing outside the hospital on my own waiting for my wife as she retrieved the car. It was freezing.
It was an unpleasant experience that occurred more than once. Looking back I realised I had been having suffering for quite a few years but didn’t know what the symptoms were. Now was the time to start to heal myself but how?