Mama OWL Blog: #R2BC - A very big reason to be cheerful this week

#R2BC - A very big reason to be cheerful this week

Thursday, 16 February 2012





This week's #R2BC is hosted by the lovely Seasider in the City, be sure to pop across, have a read and link up.

I only have one reason to be cheerful this week, but it is a pretty big one and I can honestly say that I have never been more aware of my own mortality as I was on Tuesday morning last week.

It started out much like any other day. Adam was away so I was home alone with the children. Erica had woken around 4.30am with earache so we got up and got her some medicine and some water, and we went back to bed. Just after 7am my alarm went off, to wake me to get up and get the children ready for school.

I sat up on the bed and felt tightness in my chest, as if I had slept awkwardly and it felt like it had a 'crick' in it. I moved to the edge of the bed and stretched out, which didn't help. I stood and walked out on to the landing, and heard the door slam - Alicia leaving to catch the bus to school. As I reached the landing I was overwhelmed with a crushing, squeezing pain in my chest that sent me to my knees. I tried to stand back up but immediately that hot, white fuzz descended behind my eyes which disorientated me and left me kneeling on the floor, unable to get my bearings to stand and wondering what the hell was going on. I managed to half stand using the landing wall to get up, but was washed over by nausea and then an intense cramping pain that shot down my left arm and I ended up back on my hands and knees again.

I was very aware by this point that I was the only adult in the house with four children, I alerted Joshua from where I was on the landing and he got up and took Logan and Harrison to the kitchen to get them some breakfast, Erica was fortunately still fast asleep on my bed. I crawled from the landing back in to my room and managed to locate my phone on my bed, and called my mum.

She told me to call an ambulance (which I replied with "but I can't, I have to get the children to school"... of course) and that she and my dad would be right there. Luckily, they live only a couple of streets over, and they were with me in minutes. At this point I am sitting on the landing, leaning against the wall with my knees pulled up to my chest, my left arm was almost numb except for the vague pins and needles I could just feel in my fingers. Dad went straight in to see to my boys, shutting the kitchen door to keep them calm and mostly unaware of what was going on. Mum came upstairs with me, and called the ambulance.

This part is a bit of a haze. I remember talking to my mum, I remember sitting there looking at her through fuzzy eyes, but I don't remember what was said or how long it was before two men came bounding up the stairs with a bag and some oxygen. They were Firemen, and first to arrive so they put the mask on me and asked me questions, which I remember answering, I just have no recollection of what they asked or what I said. Shortly after, a lady arrived, a First Responder. At this point, I remember nothing. Next thing I can recall is I am sitting on my sofa, with the First Responder, and two paramedics who have arrived in the Ambulance.

I am hooked up to an ECG machine, and given a spray of something under my tongue (it may well have been acid because it certainly burned like it was). I sat and watched the three of them looking at the ECG reading and tutting, then saying it needed to be sent in and then they told me that I needed to go to hospital. They got me in to the ambulance, and put a cannula in my hand (I still have the bruises to show the three attempts it took), and then informed me that they were taking me not to the more local general hospital as I had expected, but to Bristol. This set little alarm bells ringing in my head, because generally they only take you that far out if something is very wrong. The paramedic gave me some morphine, told my mum (who had to stay and take care of Erica, my Dad had taken the boys to school) where we were going, and then off we went at full speed through morning rush hour traffic with sirens and blue lights going in earnest.

We were nearing Bristol when the paramedic told me what was going to happen when we arrived, he told me to stay calm but that people were going to come rushing at me and asking me lots of questions, and then he mentioned the words HEART ATTACK. I am sitting here (because that is all I am allowed to do currently) and feeling really emotional remembering it all. I can honestly say I have never been more terrified of anything in my entire life than in that split second when he said that to me.

We arrived in Bristol, and they had me out of the ambulance and in to the British Heart Institute in seconds. They took all of my clothes, put me in a gown, hooked me up to machines, took some blood and gave me a sedative before whisking me straight in to the 'cath lab' and performing an Angiogram, through the femoral artery in my groin. I was awake much to my utter horror, my immediate thought was that surely you would be knocked out for something like that. You're not. I was however pleased when I realised that it didn't hurt and I couldn't feel anything at all. After that, I had to sit very still on the stretcher bed for a couple of hours, covered in iodine and blood from my leg, hungry, terrified and actually rather needing the toilet.

They did then bring me some lunch while I was in the recovery room, which I sat and chewed in silence while I waited to find out what was happening. I didn't actually even know 100% where I was, I knew it was the British Heart Institute in Bristol, and then came to find out it is in the BRI. The cardiologist returned, with the good news that my Angiogram was clear, he could find no blockage in my arteries, but my blood tests and the ECG indicated that I had had a heart attack despite the test revealing no evidence of this, and he said I was to stay in hospital and have further tests to find out what had happened.

I was moved on to a recovery ward until late in the afternoon when I was collected by the ambulance service and transferred to the more local general hospital. I was put on the Coronary Care Unit, hooked up to a heart monitor and had to stay in bed while they arranged further tests. I spent two nights in CCU before they moved me round to the Cardiac Ward. While I was there I had a CT Scan, and an Echocardiogram, several blood tests and ECGs and given heart medication while they tried to figure out what had happened. The nurse told me that they were all quite baffled by me, the enzymes in my blood were raised and my ECG was telling them one thing, but none of this was visible on the other tests. I was quite the anomaly.

A week after I had first arrived, on Tuesday morning (Valentine's Day, ironically) they took me back to the BHI for an MRI scan of my heart.

I have to say the MRI was quite scary. I am not a fan of enclosed spaces and I had to keep my eyes shut the whole time (except for the brief occasion where I opened them to have a quick look, and immediately wished I hadn't done so). It took around 20 or so minutes and I was very pleased when it was all over. I was keeping everything crossed that they would find the answers that they needed, so that I could get better and get home to my family. No pain compared to the evenings when I had to sit and watch my babies leave to go home without me, I missed them so much and desperately wanted to go home.

The rest of that day was pretty boring, sitting around on the ward waiting for the results, chatting to the other ladies on the ward (I was the youngest by at least thirty years but they were all lovely and actually rather funny), watching TV or reading and having cat naps when the ward was actually quiet for five minutes. In the evening my Auntie and cousin came to visit with a delicious New York cheesecake for me, as they knew I was missing out on the Valentine's cheesecake I was meant to be having with Adam and the kids! And while they were there, the Consultant made a surprise evening visit to tell me the great news...

It WASN'T a heart attack!

HUGE relief! The MRI had shown that I have inflammation of the heart probably caused by an infection (even something as simple as the horrid cough & cold that lingered for weeks over Christmas and New Year) called Acute Myocarditis, with left ventricular dysfunction. Serious, but treatable provided I do as I am told.

Yesterday morning (Wednesday), he returned with a treatment and follow up plan. I have to have 6-8 weeks of strict rest, with very limited activity, I am not to do too much and absolutely no strenuous physical activity. I must continue to take heart medication to ensure my heart doesn't work too hard for the next three months, and in three months' time I have to have a repeat Echocardiogram and follow up with the Consultant. The sister brought me my medication and discharge notes, and I was home just after lunch with my gorgeous babies and husband.

I am so beyond relieved that it wasn't a heart attack, and have been given a real wake up call. I always simply pop some painkillers and get on with things when I am ill, I don't slow down or stop because I like to be independent and do for myself, I don't like to rely on other people or ask for help. This however has shown me that sometimes it is perfectly okay to take a day off and especially to allow myself to get better when I am ill, sometimes you don't realise that you are doing yourself more harm than good - I know I certainly didn't.

I'm still feeling very drained and tired but I am being well taken care of by my husband and children, I am very glad to be home and I am resting as I have been instructed (luckily blogging is one activity that I can do while I am sat around doing nothing recovering!).

I'm looking forward to getting better, and to continue enjoying every single second of my time with my family, but also to know when I need to stop and take a minute, so that nothing takes me away from them again.


6 comments:

  1. Blimey what a week you have had! I'm so glad you are on the mend and that they found out what was wrong. How very scary for you and your family.
    Take it easy x

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  2. Wow, what an experience. Well-written post to boot. Yes, life is so easy to take for granted. Two bereavements in the last couple of weeks in my wider circle of people in their twenties and forties have acted as a wake-up call to me. You love and concern for your children shone out of this post.

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  3. Wow, That must have been terrifying! I bet you were so relieved that it wasn't a heart attack!

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  4. I can't think of a better reason to be cheerful than not having a heart attack! Hope you are better soon!

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  5. Think that's the best reason to be cheerful I've seen! So glad it wasn't a heart attack, my Dad has just spent a week in hospital after NOT having a heart attack too, it's so scary isn't it.

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  6. Thank you ladies xx

    It was terrifying, but it has certainly made me take a step back and think about who & what is important in my life, as well as knowing who I can rely on in an emergency and who my friends really are.

    Nothing quite like something that to make you realise who matters, and who really doesn't xx

    ReplyDelete

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