From A&E to the CCU

…this continues from the heart attack post

Having spent around four hours in A&E, suffering a heart attack, is was told a bed was available. Lyn, the nurse, apologised for the delay and said that the journey up would be fast.  The porter arrived and he pushed the bed while Lyn controlled the drip – it all happened in a flash and in moments I was being told to shuffle (very carefully) across from the A&E bed onto a bed in the CCU (Coronary Care Unit).

Three other beds occupied the large space. Each one with a patient hooked up to drugs via an intravenous drip and to ECG machines to monitor their condition. I was still in pain so the nurse administered some more morphine.

I was connected to two drips – one was Heparin to prevent the formation of blood clots and I think the other was Isoprenaline to slow the body down, but I can’t remember. These were attached for two days, along with the ECG, so made sleep very uncomfortable. I didn’t get any the first night (Monday 8 December).

The only pain I had was a headache from the drugs and backache from sleeping uncomfortably. The feeling in my chest was tight but not painful. It was hard to describe, but the symptoms did result in the doctors considering moving me to Sheffield for further tests. On day two their concerns reduced so I could stay in Bassetlaw.

The experience reminded me of a long haul flight. You watch the hours, minutes and seconds pass, each minute becomes slightly more uncomfortable. As you try to sleep on a plane you are interrupted by passing trolleys hitting your seat, duty free requests, or an air hostess asking you if you want a drink, or the fasten seatbelt noise alerts, or the nearby cry of a baby, or someone talking annoyingly loud, or the dull sound of the engines, while you continually shuffle in the tight space to gain comfort.

In the hospital bed it’s similar but just a larger space and less rocky! I was constantly woken from my drowsy state by blood tests, other patients calling out, machines randomly beeping, visitors popping in, nurses checking up on you, shift changes,  tea breaks…and all along in a bed that I couldn’t move from or adjust easily.

Day two was easier – I was allowed to dangle feet and have a bed bath. The bath was a nightmare – a bowl on the trolley, doddery on the feet, wires and tubes everywhere and a flannel. I did the best I could. I have to say it was a huge relief when three days later I could walk to the shower and get a proper wash.

I spent five days in hospital – discharged on the late afternoon Friday 12 December.

Throughout the stay I found the nurses and teams were incredibly good. Working long shifts, limited breaks, always smiling, always their to help. You could pick up that they have issues with working conditions, but all gave 100% to patient care. And bizarrely we are in a unit that encourages patients to change lifestyles – relax more, eat better, exercise correctly, work more effectively etc, and here was a prime example of what not to do, nurses rushing from one situation to the next, missing breaks, eating on the go, working 13 hour shifts, working with terrible colds, etc.

…to be continued

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