Sunday, 20 March 2016

Concern and Sadness

A couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of a blip.  It was Tuesday, I had got back from Aldershot and, after dinner, caught up with the things that I’d recorded whilst I’d been at Emma’s and, feeling knackered as I normally do I’d decided to go to bed and read for a bit before sleeping.

And that’s when it happened.  I experienced some chest pain right across my chest from left shoulder to right and feeling exactly how it did when I’d had my MI back in 2008.  Now, what I should have done was find my GTN, have a couple of sprays and see if that relieved the discomfort.  Unfortunately, although I’m sure that I’ve got some GTN in the house somewhere, I don’t know exactly where it is and I’m sure that it’s no longer in-date.  So what I did was dial 112 and request an ambulance.

It was obviously a busy night, as I was initially put on hold before getting through to the operator and an ambulance being dispatched.  Further evidence that it was a busy night was the fact that it was 30 minutes before the Paramedic arrived.  In the meantime, I’d called Emma.

Once the Paramedic arrived, she recorded my vital signs (normal), carried out an ECG (I could see no changes) and given me GTN (relieved pain).  By this time Emma had arrived and looked a bit worried.  It was then a further 30 minutes before the ambulance arrived.  Unfortunately, the crew, who were not a SECAMB crew, recognised me as they had brought a trauma case into the hospital and I’d bollocked them for not having the patient immobilised.

The decision was taken that I should go into the hospital, which I did, spending a night in the Resuscitation Department having ECGs and blood tests carried out, all of which proved to be normal.

The following morning, I was seen by various Consultants, and the decision was taken that I would need to be admitted to have a CTPA, as I had previously had a pulmonary embolism in 2008, and also an angiogram to rule out the possibility that I had another arterial blockage.

So after 12 hours I was transferred to the CCU, Emma coming with me and staying until I was settled before going home to get some sleep, which is what I did (sleep that is, not go home!)  Alec, my eldest, also visited having been to mine and brought some more clothes, underwear etc.

Fortunately, I had packed some stuff in case I was admitted, so when I woke up later in the afternoon (I'd had pretty much no sleep in Resus), I was able to dig out the portable DVD player and catch up on the first couple of episodes of Season 11 of NCIS.

The following morning, I was awake bright and early as I had to have an early breakfast and be nil by mouth from 0600.  I was able to go back to sleep until Emma arrived at just after 0800.  It was then a waiting game until I went down to the Cath lab and had my angiogram performed.

About 45 minutes later, I was back in my room and then had to lie flat for an hour before I was able to start mobilising again.  The only unpleasant side effect that I experienced from the angiogram (which showed that there was no blockage or other problem) was that when the large sheath was removed from my femoral artery it left me with a feeling that I’d been punched in the right testicle! Not comfortable!  Because there had been no intervention, I was able to go home (well, to Emma’s) later that afternoon.

The following morning, I was awake bright and early, as Emma was going to work, but I was unable to settle back to sleep, so I got up, finished my book and then set about setting up the treat to myself that I’d ordered whilst in Resus and got my son to collect on my behalf, a brand new PlayStation 4 along with Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

I had been under strict instructions from Emma that I was not allowed to do anything, especially not take the dog out for a walk, so I spent the day playing Unity, as I did for a few hours between rugby matches on Saturday and again on Sunday and Monday.

By Tuesday, I was fit to return to work and headed to Aldershot, returning to mine afterwards and back to work in the hospital on Wednesday, fully recovered from my experiences of the previous week.

What I hadn’t realised at the time, and didn’t find out until Thursday, was that whilst I was in hospital in Tunbridge Wells, in Carshalton one of my school friends was also in hospital, and what I found out on Thursday was that he had died during this admission.

Tim and I had been at school together and we’d kept in touch after leaving, as he lived not that far from me in New Malden at the time that I was living in Twickenham.  For those that didn’t attend a military boarding school, this would seem to be the norm, but for those of us who were at DYRMS, it wasn’t uncommon to live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles apart.

Tim had also had some bad luck, as in his early twenties, whilst working in the City, he had been involved in a road traffic collision whilst riding a motorbike and as a result he had been paralysed from mid-chest down and confined to a wheelchair.  As a result of this, he had experienced several setbacks in recent years, and his disability had restricted his ability to attend reunion events.  But we had kept in touch via the internet.

Earlier this year, Tim had popped back up, explaining that he’d had an extended period of hospitalisation in intensive care and been on the verge of multi-organ failure, including several cardiac arrests, but had made reasonable recovery.  I had also messaged him suggesting that I pop over to see him at some point as it had been so long since we had caught up properly.

It appears that Tim had recently taken a turn for the worse and had been readmitted to hospital, where he had again suffered from multi-organ failure, succumbing on Wednesday 9th March.  His funeral is not taking place until mid-April, which means that I should be able to rearrange the training that I am booked to do in order to attend.

I was talking to a couple of other school friends last night and we were commenting that, as far as we know, Tim is only the third of the 75 boys that started school together in Dover in September 1978 who is no longer with us. The other two both died some time ago, one apparently dying during a mountaineering accident and the other apparently of an MI about ten years ago. But we also realised that we are now of an age where it is likely that we will start attending more funerals of our peers from school, a thought which has added to the sadness of the loss of our friend.  

Rest in Peace Old Friend.