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Well, it happened again. Another ride in one of those green and white buses with the sirens last Tuesday, to Joondalup Hospital this time. Tuesday afternoon I was actually sound asleep (for my nap) when I was woken at 3pm by chaotic heartbeat, chest pain and pounding in my ears. I used GTN spray but it didn’t seem to help, so sat up and waited. Bit of pain in my neck and jaw, and my arms were aching too.

I can tell you, when you think you’re having a heart attack, it’s an awful feeling. I was thinking, “Is this it? Is this the end of my life? What if I collapse? My phone is out of reach.” So more GTN spray, but it didn’t help.

So I got up and went to the bathroom for a Disprin, then slumped down in the chair. I grazed my right leg on the chair as I did, and it started bleeding and wouldn’t stop. It dripped onto my nice new carpet. I spent the next few minutes arranging a band aid and wiping up.

After 45 mins the pain had eased a bit, but was still there, so I finally called 000. Tonya came over and helped me pack things, and the ambos were here shortly after. By this time the pain had eased but they measured my heart rate at 130bpm and I was very breathless.

So off we went. One of the paramedics, Kyle, had seen my cameras and lenses and is  a Sony NEX-5 owner, just setting out on the photography journey, so we had a good long chat. Again, I asked about genuine vs false calls to 000 and he said, yes, there is a real trend for people to call an ambulance for anything now, headaches, colds, flu, drunkenness etc. Again, he reassured me that I was fully justified in my call.

This time I was taken to Joondalup Hospital and so began 8.5 hours in the Emergency Department. It was both good and bad. Good because I was attended by a particularly excellent doctor who introduced himself only as Abdul. I commend this guy. He was very thorough, let me speak, and above all didn’t talk down to me. He spoke of lipodermatosclerosis and the dose of one of my drugs being at a homeopathic level. No problem. I understood.

He also turned out to be a computer builder, so we had plenty to talk about and he gave the impression he had the time to talk to me. I warmed to him and I intend to write a letter of commendation.

However, you try lying on an ED bed for 8 and a half hours. By midnight I was so tired and so tired of being ignored that I got stroppy as usual and was seriously considering walking out on my own recognisance. Every doctor or nurse said “I’ll be right back” but wouldn’t show again for an hour or more. My legs and feet were more of a worry and although I could sit on the edge of the bed, I could see my feet getting darker and darker as the blood pooled down there. Abdul was worried about DVTs and said I should get an ultrasound asap, as an emergency next day.

There’s too much to write but at 1.15am I was finally taken to the Coronary Care Unit upstairs and at 2am I could finally settle down. My troponine enzyme reading had gone a bit high, which indicated potential heart damage, so I was stuck there for a couple of days. Great care, but boy, you have to watch out for wrong medication interpretations. Even though I provided a printed list, I was still getting misunderstandings and obsessing about missing Ostelin and Ferro Gradumet tablets. These are vitamin D and iron over-the-counter items, not important, but I was constantly being queried about them.

Anyway, they’ve switched me away from Sotoacor to Amiodarone for my arrhythmias, so we’ll see what happens now. They also inject stuff called Klexane into my stomach, to thin the blood, but it makes me bleed! Even the site of one of the injections is a mess, two days later.

Finally, at about 2.30pm, I was sitting in the hospital reception awaiting Barry when I noticed blood running down my right leg. It had burst the dressing and wouldn’t stop. After an initially unsympathetic response from the desk, a nurse came down and wheeled me across to the emergency department again, where I saw the poorer side of A&E for the first time. Phew! is all I can say. Lots of lower level people, shall we say.

Anyway, after about 30mins of waiting, I was taken in and my “wound” cleaned up and re-dressed. I was also given a tetanus injection. Why? Graze from metal chair, I was told. No problem. More than 5 years since the last one anyway.

So Barry took me home via the coastal scenic route on a beautiful afternoon on Thursday and all was right with the world again. Minnie was very glad to see me. The tail was going strong. She knows when I’ve been away.

But the AF continues strongly at home. I’m assured it’s not dangerous, but it’s very uncomfortable and disconcerting. Breathlessness and a bit of dizziness. I shall know more after I see the cardiologist in 10 days.

Yesterday I acted on the “emergency” leg ultrasound request and after a dash up to Merriwa to get a referral, I attended the Innaloo Western Radiology clinic.

Amazingly, the sonographer, who I never got to see, determined that the referral was not an emergency and has rescheduled me for next Friday, a week away. I should have stamped my foot, but I was having lots of AF and feeling breathless and dizzy so I just left. I’ll be seeing my other GP on Sunday to sort it out. Seems amazing that a sonographer should countermand a doctor’s referral for an immediate check.

It just makes it more urgent to make the move to St Ives, I think. They have call buttons in the villas and you’re not far from help.

Jayzuz, I never thought I’d get to this stage so soon. I’m only 65 going on 40. It sort of puts paid to travel ideas. Although there have been costs for all this treatment, it’s not huge. But if I were in Bali or Europe, I’d be a bit more scared, I think.

Guard your health.