For the last week, I’ve been watching my family battle this awful flu virus while feeling constantly under the weather myself. I was just so tired and when I was walking the dogs, or climbing the stairs, I felt quite badly out of breath. I figured I was just eternally on the cusp of coming down with the lurgy, but I woke up on Christmas day with full blown ‘flu. Achy joints, throat full of razors, sore ears, tight chest, fever and lethargy. Thanks Santa.
Thanks to paracetamol and ibuprofen, I just about got through yesterday. We never have anyone come to us for Christmas lunch, so there were only the 6 of us to feed and DH usually cooks. He wasn’t well either but the turkey had to be cooked and the dogs had to be walked, so we stuck to our traditional roles. I felt dreadful though and had to sit in the car for about 10 minutes after the walk was over to recover.
Last night, when I went to bed, I realised I was having some heart palpitations but I was too tired to worry about them. I’ve had them before and keep meaning to get them checked out but they haven’t killed me yet.
When I woke this morning, I was still out of breath and my heart felt like a butterfly in my chest. Having a shower and getting dress just about finished me off. I rang my stepMIL,who is a GP, and asked her advice, she suggested I ring NHS 111. Anyone can call this number when they need medical help or advice but it’s not urgent enough to call 999. NHS 111 operates 24/7, 365 days per year and is free to use from a land line and a mobile.
So I gave them a ring. The lady I spoke to was helpful, although some of the questions she asked me seemed a bit irrelevant. Because I had shortness of breath, palpitations and some discomfort in my chest, she told me to make my way to the nearest A&E within the next hour. Now I was getting a bit panicky, I was pretty sure it was ‘just’ the flu but what if there was something wrong with my heart?
And so it came to pass, that at 10am on boxing day, a taxi (charging fare and a half on boxing day) dropped me off outside our closest A&E. I had abandoned DH to a house in a state of total chaos and 4 kids with a bad case of cabin fever. Oh and MIL and her husband were due for lunch. I was not going to win any awards for Wife of the Year.
A& E was heaving. There were very few spare seats and kids running around everywhere. I was waiting by window 1 and in front of me was a family of four vomiting everywhere’ and a man who was telling the receptionist he wanted his son seen because he had had a rash on his face since Saturday. I moved to window 2, where the woman in front of me was describing a week’s worth of bowel movements in great detail. Eventually a space opened up at window 4.
After giving my details, I was told to find a seat and noticed that the waiting time was advertised as three hours. Probably because I was presenting with symptom of a heart problem, I was seen much sooner than this- within 20 minutes.
The nurse who saw me first was from the Philippines. Like many of his countrymen and women, he had left his children behind to be cared for by family while he came to the UK to work. He was lovely but obviously busy and explained that the NHS staff had been laid low by the viruses that are going around this winter too. There were only two nurses in the whole A &E department at that point in time! He still managed to take a history, place a catheter and take some of my blood and do an ECG on me. Then he showed me where to sit and wait until they got the results back.
It was a relatively comfy waiting area compared to the big one out front. It was warm and had padded seats and even a TV, showing SKY news. People came and went and I caught snatches of conversation between nurses and doctor, and doctors and doctors and even other patients. I was quite content dozing here for about an hour until someone came and called my name.
This time it was a doctor, with my results. He was from Jorden, so we had a chat about the holiday we had there over Easter. Then he asked me to go over my history again and listened to my chest. It’s obviously full of crud, judging by what I’m coughing up, but my bloods and sats say I don’t have a bacterial infection yet. He thought the palpitations are to do with the virus I have but if they don’t settle down once I’ve recovered, I need to go back to my GP for further investigation. He went to find a nurse to remove my iv catheter, but there were none available , so he did it himself while telling me he isn’t really an A&E doctor but an orthopedic surgeon instead. They were desperately short of doctors and he wasn’t doing anything so he stepped in for the afternoon .
Then I was sent home with a clean bill of health. Oh not really, I was told to drink lots of fluids, keep warm and take it easy but at least my heart was okay.
God bless the NHS, they do their best but we sure don’t make it easy for them.