Thursday, 23 July 2009

My chest pain event

Of all the health issues that worry me when I lie awake at 2 o'clock in the morning,its never about my heart.I have no family history of cardiac disease;have never smoked,never drank,and was a vegetarian for a very long time and even now really only have the occasional bacon sarnie...

So imagine my surprise when I started to get a chest pain on Monday night,after work,when I was sitting down with a glass of ice-cold OJ to watch the news and felt like someone was hitting my chest with a hammer...a large hammer...expertly wielded by a very large man...

Naturally,I did nothing about it...just went to bed and hoped that the pain would go away in the morning.And it seemed to have gone...for about the first five minutes...and then...irregularly...but with a real 'thump',it returned...and my blood pressure started to rise reaching an interesting 200/140 by 1700...just as I was finishing my last blog entry in fact.
At that point,I thought I should probably do something about it...

And so...for those of you who think I needlessly and maliciously malign the NHS,or wonder why I have private health insurance read on:-

Phone 999 for an ambulance where my call is taken seriously
A Paramedic in a Rapid Response Car arrives and runs an ECG strip that shows I am having ectopic beats and my BP is 210/140
The ambulance arrives with another paramedic and a technician
Over the next 25-odd minutes they reassure me and examine me and repeat the ECG and all are in agreement that I should probably go to A&E...I'm happy with this...

Arrive at St Vulva's A& I worked there for three years and on a daily basis refer patients from our Unit to them,so in fact I know most of the staff,two of whom greet me warmly as I am wheeled into the department

Transferred by the ambulance crew onto a bed in Bay Two in the Resus Room

1905 (+15 min after arrival in dept)
A doctor walks into the room,greets me and asks why I am there.
I tell her I have chest pain ...she looks at the BP and sats registered on the monitor above my head and tells me that my BP looks normal.
I tell her that not only is that not my BP reading...but that I'm not actually attached to any monitors.
'Oh' she replies,and leaves me alone again without attaching me to the monitor

1915 (+25 min)
A Nurse come in,connects me to the monitoring and leaves to get an ECG machine.

1930 (+40 min)
He returns with the ECG machine...explains that he couldn't find one...and does an ECG ,disconnects me and then leaves me alone

1940 (+50 min)
He returns to tell me that I am next to be seen and disconnects me from the monitor

2005 (+1 hr 15 min)
I am moved from the Resus Room into the Cardiac Intervention Bay and told that a doctor will see me soon as I am still next to be seen.I'm not connected to any monitoring
2010 (+1 hr 20 min)
I am offered a cup of tea which I gratefully accept.

2030 (+1 hr 40 min)
My friend Penny arrives...not only is she a very good friend,but is also my boss...and in fact,is de facto, my next of kin.

2135 (+2 hrs 45 min)
The day staff leave after several of them have come over to speak to me and Penny...and re-assure me that I am next to be seen
2140 (+2 hours 50 min)
My "named nurse" for the night introduces herself,checks my BP and sats and then disconnects me again from the monitor.
She also re-assures me that I am next to be seen...which I doubt,since I am across from the desk where the doctors are sitting around talking about meal breaks...TV...and how busy they are...
I am given another cup of tea however...but Penny is ignored.

2220 (+3 hrs 30 min)
And with only 30 minutes to go before I breach the four-time limit in which I am legally supposed to have been examined,diagnosed , treated and discharged or admitted,a young SHO come to examine me.

2240 (+3 hrs 45 min)
The doctor says that she can't find anything sinister...despite the pain...but that she wants to do some blood tests.
I tell Penny to go home as this is going to take forever.

2245 (+3 hrs 55 min)
The Sister comes to take me to the Assessment Ward,a nine-bedded area in A&E but not counted as part of A&E for statistical purposes.
She asks to check my patient ID wristband and I suggest that if she would like to make one for me,I'll happily put it on and then show it to her.

2255 (+ 4hrs 5 min)
I walk to the side ward in the Assessment Unit where the staff get me a meal box and some OJ...and I settle down with a good thick book.Naturally no one introduces themselves,does any baseline monitoring or bother to orientate me to the area.

2355 (+5 hrs 5 min)
The SHO tells me that they have most of the blood work back,are only waiting for my thyroid levels and that she wants to do a chest x-ray.

0020 (+5 hrs 30 min)
The porter comes to take me to the x-ray department where I am quickly and efficiently dealt with...and then walked back to my room.

0105 (+6 hrs 15 min )
The SHO tells me that the chest x-ray is normal and that she is just waiting for the final blood results

0150 (+6 hrs 55 min)
The SHO tells me that all the bloods are normal;the ECG is essentially normal;that they have no idea what is causing the ectopic beats or the pain;and says that I will be referred to the cardiology team for further review.

She asks me if I still have any pain?

'Oh yes' I reply...with each of the ectopic beats that still feels like someone is hammering at my sternum.

Well, she says,if you have any more pain,just come back...

Jah...but what about the pain now ? At what point do I come back? In an hour ? Six hours?

She actually doesn't know...and 0200,still with the pain and still feeling as if someone is hammering away,I am discharged and told that I am now free to make my own way home...
Fortunately no one has to remove a cannula...because I wasn't cannulated...and no one needs to take away the oxygen mask since I haven't had any...

Whilst I am still having some ectopic beats...the pain per se has gone and my BP has normalised.

Private health care,here I come!!!
Image as usual from


  1. next time tell them u r tony blare

  2. The problem with private insurance is that, depending on where you go, they might admit you to hospital, then keep you there for weeks finding more and more things to investigate, while not actually solving your main problem. It's frustrating. Regardless of what insurance you get, I hope that you are feeling better soon.

  3. Well..............what happened? did you get an ablation? do u have to take B-blockers? did they do a psych refural? i hope u got a decent Christian Barnard type to MOT u.