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Friday, June 12, 2009

Health and happiness

For those of you not already in the know, I've been a bit poorly of late.  For the avoidance of doubt, I am alive and well.

However...

I spent two nights in Queen Elizabeths Hospital in Woolwich (QEH) early last week attached to lots of machines that go ping. Let me explain a little.

I had a massive dizzy spell a couple of Wednesdays ago which last about three hours. That Friday I came home from work and went straight to bed. On the Sunday, I had some weird shit going on in my chest which lasted a couple of hours. At that point I decided to go to the Doctor's if I had another dizzy spell.

I had that on Monday afternoon.

Monday evening I rocked up at the Quack's and she did some basic tests and sent me packing to the A&E department of QEH. There was a 6 hour wait but I gave them the note, was seen by triage in 10 minutes, had an ECG 10 minutes after that and was in the full blown Resus room within 30 minutes of arriving. They called Janet and she arrived to pick up the car only to see me attached to two drips and an ECG machine. My heart rate was 158bpm, blood pressure was all over the place and I had more drugs thrown at me than I care to remember. At least the Quack didn't hoick me off to QEH in an ambulance.

I was admitted that evening and spent the next three days attached to various drips and machines until I had an "echo cardiogram" which finally nailed my condition down to "atrial fibrillation". [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atrial_fibrillation]

I was released last Wednesday and am now back at work. I have boxes of hardcore heart and blood drugs to take so I've got a multi-day multi-dose pill box into which I have decanted a weeks worth of pills which should make it a bit easier to remember what to take and when. I have regular appointments with the Anticoagulation Clinic who monitor my INR (International Normalised Ratio - a measure of the ability of the blood to clot) and make sure my blood stays nice and non-sticky. The heart is not pumping properly at the moment (the speed is fine, it's just not doing it properly) so there is a risk that blood clots could form in the heart as a result of the blood not being completely flushed from the heart on each cycle. I am taking Warfarin (rat poison) to stop the blood from clotting - thus (hopefully) removing that risk.

The next step will be "cardioversion" which is essentially a rebooting of the heart with a jolt of electricity to put it back into normal rhythm. The last thing they want is for the heart to be rebooted and have all the gunge which has built up in the bit that isn't working properly blasted out into the bloodstream by a working heart. Blood clots in the blood stream are generally considered a bad thing (stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis being some of the BAD that could happen). This is the reason for taking warfarin - to stop clots from forming. The cardioversion is booked for 24th July assuming my INR is between 2.0 and 3.0 for the two week period beforehand. General anasthetic but in and out in about 6 to 8 hours. The cardioversion should fix it completely but there is a risk it might come back in the future

So until then: no flying, no dramatic increase alcohol intake, no aspirin, no cranberry juice and no cutting myself with carving knives (oops, did that on Sunday, bled like a pig). I was due to go to the GSK in Orlando next week. That's been binned now.

The thing is I feel fine! On the outside I'm still me. I'm still active and okay. The machines in the hospital were telling a very different story though.

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