Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Spot of Bad News

Back in January I got ill, an unspcified viral infection that layed mei out for two weeks.  And I have never really seemed to get back to full fitness since, but like most blokes never did anything about it.   A couple of weeks ago we went to my Mum's,  and I was really tired all weekend.  I cycled to work on the following Tuesday, struggling into the wind on the way in, the to my dismay,  struggling even more on the way home.  I finally had to admit something was wrong and planned to call the doctor the next morning.  The idea was to drive to work, check my diary and get a suitable time slot in the week.  However,  Tuesday night I was having real difficulty breathing, I could take in big lung fulls of air but didn't seem to get enough oxygen in.   It was quite frightening.   Wednesday morning I was feeling a bit better and decided to stick to the plan.  But when I got in the car to head to work I was struggling again and decided to go straight to the Doctors.  I eventually saw the Practice Nurse who diagnosed a chest infection and prescribed 5 days of antibiotics.  These ran out on Sunday morning and I didn't feel much better so went back and saw a different nurse who said the same thing, blood oxygen was good,  pressure a bit high but not worryingly so, pulse same, and prescribed a different antibiotic.

I went home, took the first dose and 45 mins later,  threw up.  Rang the Doctors who said next day try eating more before taking the tablet.  So I spent the day reading until Jayne got in.  It was a lovely warm sunny day, although the new tablets said avoid the sun.

Then early in the evening, I suddenly went very cold and had to get a fleece.  As I was putting it on my left hand suddenly clenched itself into a fist and my forearm went numb.  Then the left side of my face felt funny.  Jayne says that the right side of my face fell.   She rang for an ambulance but they were very busy and because we were quite near, she decided to drive me to the hospital.

By this time I'd got feeling back in my arm and my face was starting to recover.   Initial triage said I had a very high and irregular pulse but didn't think I was in any immediate danger.   I still couldn't string a sentence together but otherwise coherent.

Once in the assessment area the doctor did a series of tests, ECG, chest x-ray, CT scan, blood test etc, all of which took hours.  The Doctor explained he'd ruled out chest infection,  but I had a very worrying ECG, my heart was all over the place.  He was also trying to decide whether I'd also had a Stroke or a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA).  In the end he decided TIA was more likely.

So at 3 AM, 9 hours after the initial incident,  Jayne went home and I waited for a bed on the Accute Medical Unit.  I dozed for a few hours before finally getting a bed at just after 5 PM.

Next day the AMU medical team came,  redid the ECG and went over events again.  The upshot is that I have Atrial Fibrillation (AF), which is basically a mismatch of the electrical signal in the heart causing them to misfire and causing the very high pulse and irregular pulse.  This causes the shortage of breath feeling as the lungs try to keep up.  It also causes little blood clots to form which then  enter the blood supply.  In my case they think this cause a TIA,  or mini-stroke, from which I should fully recover, but still have some loss of feeling in my cheek.

I've been prescribed beta blockers to keep the heart rate down an Warfarin to help stop blood clots from forming.  I've got to go to a blood clinic today, to set the Warfarin dosage and will need regular blood tests to manage it.  I've got a referral to the hospital TIA specialist,  hopefully they will ring today.  And I've got an appointment with the GP tomorrow,  partly to discuss sick notes, but mainly to get a referral to a Cardiologist to plan what to do about the AF.

I'm back home now after a very scary 24 hours.   It seemed much longer.  Jayne was really good, stayed calm and collected through out, right up to getting home yesterday when she broke down into tears.   Its still quite scary, I'm still struggling to breath particularly at night and had a bit of a panic attack last night.  We are both exhausted but hopefully we can get some good night's sleep and start to recover.

The Blackpool Victoria A&E and AMU were fantastic.  They were very busy but I always felt I got the attention I needed when I needed it.  The A&E doctor was particularly keen we understood what he was doing and why.

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