Or, But This Tour wasn't on Our Itinerary!
I'm perfectly well now, but have had an unexpected stay in an English hospital. It began on the midnight that separates Monday from Sunday; right about then, my heart just skipped right out of rhythm. The irregular beating, with breathlessness, kept me awake all night.
We waited until it was 8:00 a.m. in Richmond (1:00 p.m. here) and telephoned our cardiologist, who said to go get treatment right away. So we walked from our flat two blocks to the bus stop and hopped on the bus for Southport, because the Ormskirk Hospital is just for children nowadays.
The same bus stops right outside the hospital, so twenty minutes later we arrived at the emergency room, which here is called the A&E Department (Accidents and Emergency).
We were a bit concerned because we aren't a part of the English NHS (National Health System) and our only insurance is, of course, American. But when we asked the lady in Reception, she raised her eyebrows and said, 'It isn't like America. Emergency care is for everyone.' Then she added, icily, 'We are civilized here.'
I was seen right away, within ten minutes. Within the first half hour, I'd had all my vital signs taken and an electrocardiogram and was in a hospital gown and a bed.
After that, I lost track of time, but there was a very nice young doctor from Pakistan and a very nice Philippino nurse, male, but I was in no position to be picky about gender. 'Turn you back to me,' he instructed, so I did and he slipped off the hospital gown. 'Now turn back around,' he said, 'and slip your arms in.' He was holding the gown between himself and me, to obscure his view. I had put it on the wrong way and he had put it right with extreme tact.
They hooked me up to an IV and dripped a medicine into me for a longish time, in hopes it would cause the heart to reset.
By now a consultant had arrived (senior doctor; Consultant being the highest rank). He was consulted and was firmly against 'interfering' with my own caridologist's treatment.
He directed that I be sent home.
Demetrios, however, objected, pointing out that the irregular heartbeat posed an immanent danger of bloodclot (and death, of course). So the young Pakistani doctor apparently refused to do as directed and kept me. I also heard a beautiful young doctor from India seemingly interceding on my behalf. She said, twice or three time, 'But it's unfair, isn't it? It's unfair!'
At any rate, they decided to keep me overnight for observation. I urged Demetrios to go home, and he also thought he should, to telephone our cardiologist again while it was still office hours in Richmond.
I remember having a chest x-ray, 'Because of the chest pains,' they said. The chest pains were so mild I had forgotten them. On a scale of 1-10, I rated them one-half.
Then my bed was wheeled through some more corridors and I asked, 'Am I being taken to my room now?'
'To your ward,' the male nurse from the Philippines corrected.
Oh. Okay. They have wards here rather than rooms. Demetrios says every hospital has a handful of private rooms, saved for infectious patients or those who for any other reason require isolation.
The ward contained 5 other women, all of whom appeared to be older than I. One of them grinned at me and nodded her head; it took about two minutes to realize she was quite demented.
I was quite sleepy by then and do not remember much, but I do remember being offered tea several times. Finally, not having eaten all day, and having missed both lunch and supper while in the emergency room, I asked for, and was given, a snack box, containing a ham sandwich, a delicious apple, some cookies (digestives), some cheese, and I've forgotten what else; I couldn't eat it all.
I had brought with me a prayer book, a book of Sudoku, and the book about the ancient Greeks, which I haven't yet finished. So I alternated among those, and was saying the evening prayers when one of the patients, a sweet-faced old lady with short, curly, white hair, wearing pink plaid pajamas, got out of her bed and began going around to each of the other 5 beds to chat with her fellow patients and wish each one a good night.
When she came to my bed and we had chatted a few moments, I asked her name, and she said, 'Margaret. Sister Margaret, actually; I'm a nun.'
So I asked which order, and she told me, but I've forgotten, and then she asked me my order!
I had brought earplugs with me, luckily, but just as lights out time came, I was put on a trolley and transferred to a ward in the Cardiac Care Unit, still with only six beds, but much larger.
The night nurse was a beautiful woman from Ireland named Hughna. She was as sweet and kind as she was gorgeous.
At some point in the night she repeated the IV drip, during which I fell asleep, more or less. (It's hard for me to sleep flat on my back, and all the things into which I was plugged prevented my turning over.) I remember Hughna telling me, 'You're fine now,' as she unplugged the drip, but I didn't know whether to beleive it. I could see the monitor and I could see the wild fluctuations every time I moved. I should have known she was telling the truth, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to sleep at all, from the palpitations and breathlessness.
It wasn't until morning I was sure I was fine. I could feel that my heart was steady and strong.
For breakfast, the choice was cereal or toast; I had the toast and some tea.
Demetrios came as I was still finishing my shower, so he got the good news from someone else instead of from me. They gave him photocopies of all the cardiographs, including the latest one, showing normal heart rhythm.
I've got rhythm,
I've got rhythm!
Then it was a matter of waiting two hours for the pharmacy to bring up my new medicine; apparently my body was no longer responding to the old, having become too used to it.
Total cost to us: Zero. I can't think when I've ever been so grateful.
As it was a beautiful day, we took the bus the rest of the way into Southport and strolled along Chapel Street, a pedestrian shopping area. Then we ate at Mamma Mia, best tiramisu in the world. Then we came home.
And I napped three hours, until it was time to go to Stuart's house, for that Anglican discussion group we attend.
I'll write about last week later; we did have some fun adventures to tell you about!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Or, But This Tour wasn't on Our Itinerary!
Posted by Anastasia Theodoridis at 8:35 AM