Last Friday was a bit of an adventure. It started off at 7:30am with one of my usual tachycardia attacks. After an hour it was clearly not going away, so me & B abandoned our plan to spend the day doing our monthly shop, and I necked a couple of betablockers and settled into bed for the duration.
By 3pm, I was very bored indeed with reading and tweeting; my fast heart-rate seemed to be slowing down, so I reckoned it was safe to get out of bed and get onto the sofa instead. I get very dizzy when I’m on my feet during one of these attacks, but I’m usually all right if I go carefully and cling to the wall and other supports. I got to the living-room sofa and sat for a while, but,unusually, continued feeling light-headed. Not having eaten anything all day, I thought it might be low blood sugar; not wanting to bother B, who was on the computer in the office, I staggered carefully into the kitchen to find something to eat. There my dizziness got worse. Hanging onto the kitchen counter and realising that I’d made a bad mistake, I shouted for B to come and help.
With that, I abruptly found myself in a darkened concert hall listening to Mozart (or was it Handel?), with glowing half-recognised faces swimming in and out of the shadows; this dream/hallucination seemed to last for several bars of music before I came to in B’s arms – he was desperately trying to lower my twelve stones to the floor without putting his already fragile back out. I’d fainted and he’d caught me in the nick of time.
Lying on the floor, I felt better, but didn’t dare get up. A panicky B called our GP, who called an ambulance, which took me to hospital. The drive into Dumfries was long and rough – our local roads are never in the best repair and lying flat on my back, I felt every pothole and bump. Once in the ED I was attended to very quickly, by a doctor who insisted on being called Joe. He was utterly charming, easy-going, attractive in a hunky sort of way. And – I had to tell myself with some regret – he was probably younger than my son.
He checked the cardiac and blood-pressure readings that the paramedics had taken, then took a history. He was concerned that I had these lengthy attacks quite regularly for years but had never had any emergency medical attention for them before. He gently scolded me “It doesn’t matter if you think you can cope by yourself, it’s not good for your heart in the long run – every attack causes a little more damage.” That was the first time any medic had given me such a warning – not even my GP who has treated me for it for years. I’d been quite proud of how I was dealing with my condition, always shrugging it off as no big deal, nothing to bother the docs about. Maybe I should be more complaining?
Dr Joe then told me that he’d be giving me something to bring my heart-rate back to normal; a cannula went into my arm and an IV line attached. “This might be quite unpleasant…” he warned.
Then something punched me in the chest, hard, with a feather cushion. There was a mildly disturbing prickling in my head. Then somebody poured a whole bucket of gloriously fuzzy warm sparkles into my brain and my world lit up. That’s the best way I can describe it – it was like like walking into sunshine after a week of grey, cold rain. Everything looked fresh and new.
“How do you feel now?” smiled Dr Joe. He was now glowing slightly. “Wonderful!” I breathed, just stopping myself from adding and I’m in love with you!
“Always nice when that works!” he twinkled back. He took my pulse and blood pressure again.
“You’re down to 53 BPM, no wonder you’re feeling better.”
“What on earth was it you gave me?”
“Adenosine, and you’ve just had a cardioversion – never had one before? No? It probably won’t be your last – you have to come in the next time you have an long attack. Sorry, but you can’t take it at home – it has to be done under medical supervision.”
“OK, doc, I promise.” Especially if you’re on duty, you luffley man…
And so me & B shook his hand goodby and the Amazing Dr Joe went off to save a life elsewhere. And we drove back through the warm sunny evening. And everything still looked glorious.
And I suppose I will be seeing more of Dr Joe…..