It's truly amazing how much, or how little seeming like so much, has happened in the past week. After the gardening exertions of the previous week, everything seemed to be going so well, not even a hint of post-exertional kick back. Sunday morning, woke up and robotically began to apply dermatological cream to my lower limbs when a snapping twinge locked my back mid-rub. Yep, I'm always aware that my back's rather vulnerable, herniated disc and all, but it always takes me by excruciating surprise when it un-elastically responds to the meagre stretches that I've imposed on it.
I swiftly sought the assistance of the old faithful walking stick, for additional support, as I headed downstairs. Extra doses of tramadol were required for the next few days, an essential supplement to the efficacious application of ibuprofen gel. Care had to be taken not to remain seated, for too long, in any particular position, not even on a supportive high back chair, in order to avoid a painful lock down.
Wednesday evening things took a slightly more dramatic turn, around 9.20pm, having spent the evening listening to the radio and catching up with the latter stages of that day's epic Wimbledon set, I was feeling quite shattered. Decided to have a cup of Decaff just before going to bed, took a sip and suddenly felt sick. Simultaneously it felt like a vice was closing in on my chest, right from top of ribcage down to the floaters. A sharp bruised sensation made it difficult to catch my breath and,of course, the more frightening the experience became the more difficult it was to get my breath. I turned simultaneously clammy and totally drained of colour. The paramedics took ecg's and simple prick test to check my blood sugar level; ecg's seemed fine but they could sense my general discomfort and thought I should be checked out at the hospital.
Arrived at A&E just before 10.00pm, had my blood pressure taken a few times and further ecg's. The duty doctor consulted further and decided that I should be admitted for observation. Eventually a bed was found in the acute ward and I was transferred there just after 2.00am, and they immediately strapped me up to a monitor and told me to get some rest; now that was a tall order, within five minutes blood pressure and temperature were being taken again. By 3.00am the house doctor, from cardiology, came to examine me and told me that I would have further blood samples taken at 9.00am and, if the test was OK (meaning negative) I could go home. Shortly after this visit I was asked whether I'd mind changing to a different bed, an offer I greeted with enthusiasm as the one I was in was most uncomfortable. Around 6.30am, had a visit from the cardio consultant (along with one or two acolytes) and he informed me that he would want a further ecg taken after the blood sample and muttered something about a treadmill test. The noise, lights, and being kept in the dark about what exactly was going on were certainly not at all conducive to restfulness.
Blood samples were taken just after 9.00am and, a further ecg done at around 10.15am, the rest of the time was spent hanging around not knowing exactly what was going on. I'd got out of bed to have a little breakfast but, felt unable to note everything about the environment, or my fellow inmates, my vision being minorly impaired as I didn't have my spectacles with me. My sandal clad feet, and ankles, were getting extremely cold and I had no socks with me to warm them up at all. Come lunchtime, the food was absolutely disgusting - I'd settled for the salmon & dill potato bake in which the miniscule flakes of salmon looked like the scatterings of an infants overfull mouth bonded together with what looked like and had slightly less flavour than wallpaper paste.
Visitors had been arriving but, no sign of ma belle, I thought I'd be heading home at any moment. All this anticipation of imminent reprieve became increasingly frustrating as it failed to materialize. When ma belle arrived, at 3.30pm, she was already aware that my reprieve wouldn't be until the afternoon as she had contacted the ward (twice) earlier in the day, although I hadn't been informed of this. In fact, I only discovered that the blood test was negative after pursuing my own line of enquiry; strange how the staff had plenty of time to chat to each other but no time to communicate necessary information to the patient. Once it was known that the blood test was negative they were able to release me from the monitor leads.
Suddenly. whilst ma belle was visiting, they informed me that I was being transferred to another ward which came as something of a shock, as I was still anticipating an imminent leap into freedom. By this time I was getting ultra-tetchy, bothered by the lights, noises (on and off stage), and the general sense of being left in the dark; to placate me an annoying light was switched off and I enquired about discharging myself from the hospital. The staff on this ward were really helpful and chased up the coronary unit to speed up my treadmill test; rather than waiting for a porter to take me down (five minutes later) I was accompanied by one of the staff from the ward. I'd determined to exert myself to the nth degree on this test, although well aware there would be some slightly delayed post-exertional consequences, as I would risk anything to gain my freedom from this internment!
By 5.30pm, Thursday, I was on my way home, leaving it to the hospital to forward my discharge papers to my GP rather than incur any further stir craziness by waiting for same to be prepared. The post-exertional effects had really begun to hit home by Friday evening, followed by a very restless night with sharp aching pains being felt in chest, shoulder and leg muscles, along with my old familiar foe of intense discomfort in the armpits. The general feeling is one of a rather disconcerting fragility, a generalized discomfort; this post-exertional-malaise, unwelcome as it may be, is easier to deal with in the free world than it would be within those formidable clinical walls.