Monday, 23 April 2012

I'm Not Ready

Today has been an odd day- even by my standards.

Over the past few months, I have had dizzy spells, which remain unexplained. One clue comes from a different angle- last year I had to have 24-hour blood pressure monitoring, which involves a cuff round your upper arm that inflates and takes the reading every 30 minutes during the day, and every hour during the night. Just before one of those times, I was feeling dizzy while out walking and had to rest against a building- and then the cuff inflated. A few days later when I was seeing my GP about the results, she noted that there was one blood pressure reading that was the lowest of the waking period, and that it was much lower than the ones either side, I pointed out that this was the reading taken during my dizzy spell.

Just after lunchtime at work, I went off to the loo, but was feeling as if I might be sick. Returning, I felt I could't walk further and sat down on a chair. After a few minutes, as I was feeling hotter and dizzier, I made my way back to my office. Someone got me a glass of water, and fetched a First Aider.

I felt that I was about to collapse, and on top of that, the left hand side of my chest had a sharp pain that was growing, and this scared me. The First Aider suggested I sit on the floor, which I did, but had a curious sense that I was going to fall over further (how you can actually do this while already on the floor is something I don't know). She suggested we make our way to one of the rooms off the canteen, which are cooler. I noticed one of my friends in the canteen and called him over, on the grounds (wussy I know) that I would feel better with someone I know well sitting with me. While sitting there, I felt it was going darker as if the room was closing in on me.

The First Aider decided to take us through to Reception, and decided that as I was having these chest pains getting worse, that she would call an ambulance and sent my friend off to get the building defibrillator, just as a precaution. And when he had done that, he was sent off to guide the ambulance to the right entrance.

The next stage was for the paramedics to take me into the ambulance, where I, of course, had to remove my shirt and lie on the stretcher. My blood pressure was measured, I had an ECG, and the most painful bit of all was having my finger pricked for some blood to measure blood sugar levels. I was given aspirin to chew (was told it is more effective chewed than swallowed).

Then we were off. Two positive signs:

  • The blue light was not going
  • We were going to Accident & Emergency. This might not sound good at first, but if it had been a suspected heart attack we would have gone straight to Coronary Care
  • We get to A&E and I am put in a room. The nurse does another blood pressure reading and ECG and then tells me I need to have a blood test.

    This is the one thing that terrifies me. Don't know why- even hearing people talk about blood tests makes me feel queasy. I explained this to him (snd advised him, that when he writes up the patient notes, that "wuss" is spelt W-U-S-S), so he sprayed my arm with some sort of anaethsetic and prepared to put The Needle in.

    I always assumed that I would respond to having a blood test done by throwing up. I never suspected that, as he approached with The Needle, that I would get cramp in my right leg, leap off the bed and start hopping around.

    I get woken up with cramp quite often, and my immediate, almost unconscious, reaction is to leap out of bed and hop around.

    My right leg started to feel better, so I got back on the bed, and he approached again with The Needle.

    Then I got cramp in my left leg.

    After I finished my hopping around and was back on the bed, The Needle was..

    OK, I;ll skip that bit as I would feel queasy continuing. But I wasn't sick.

    Then the doctor turned up, and had a listen to my back and chest with his stethoscope, and did some pressing down on my chest and stomach and said he would be back after the blood test results were available.

    Spent the next couple of hours drifting in and out of sleep, my fear subsiding. Then the doctor arrived with the results- namely, nothing.

    Yes, the enlarged left ventricle that had been known about since I'd had a routine ECG at work a few years back is still enlarged, but nothing other than that. The chest pain is musculo-skeletal in all likelihood (perhaps I did more than dislocate my shoulder in my treadmill accident- and, as it was only the right side of my chest and right shoulder that got X-rayed, nothing on the left side would have been picked up; or perhaps it as I have been carrying my rucksack on my left shoulder rather than my back since the accident) and is not heart-related. The dizzy spells could be a variety of reasons, and today was just a combination of those chest pains with a bad dizzy spell.

    Now, some thoughts. For the first time I can remember- I was seriously thinking that I was going to die. I have had a couple of near-misses caused by other people, those moments when you realise that someone else's actions could have killed you. The first was several years ago when living in Andover and someone threw a stone through my bedroom window, sending glass flying (some onto my pillow and bedspread. If it had come through a few degrees one side or the other...). The second was a couple of years back when I was walking in Southampton and one of these aggressive footpath-cyclists felt I was not getting out of his way quick enough and shoved me into a main road (if I had not got back up and onto the footpath in time...)

    And with that has come the realisation that I am less ready than King Ethelred. For me, growing up (and being a Boy Scout), it was important to be ready.

    Now, you might think from what I have said that I have somehow lost my faith in the Resurrection of Jesus. Not at all- I remain confident that upon death I will end up in Heaven. However, for Christians there is that tension we live with, that we live in this world and the next.

    Just this feeling that I am not ready. A chance to think that, as I approach 40, have I actually achieved anything for God? Has there been any fellow Christian's life where I have actually made a difference? Is there anyone I have moved even a short way along the path of accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour? Would I die without ever having taken the opportunity to make a difference?

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