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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel

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BB Piano
Wotta night.

The pain I mentioned yesterday got steadily worse between about 4pm-6pm. At 6pm I took Ibuprofen, and basically had to sit completely still otherwise it was agony. By 7pm it was quite simply the worst pain I've ever felt, and despite having to move I got up and took some Paracetamol as well. Anything to stop the pain. Then I just sat there, trying to immobilise my left arm and shoulder as best I could, sweating like crazy.

I had an increasing worry that it was a heart attack. The pain extended from the left-hand side of my neck all the way across my shoulder and down my arm into my fingers. It was also at the top of my chest. I didn't feel any pressure or shortness of breath (that I could tell), just incredible pain. Simply moving my left side caused my head to swim.

It got to around 10:30pm, and I was managing to tweet on and off with my right-hand. stegzy strongly suggested I get it checked out, in case it was a heart attack. The pain had eased slightly, which I assumed was the painkillers. I spoke to Lu, who was already in bed, and she rang NHS Direct. They went through a few questions and then said they were going to call an ambulance, in case it was a heart attack. Ironically after calling NHS Direct the pain had started to ease off dramatically, and all I really felt was residual pain and pins and needles.

A few minutes later a Community Response person arrived at the house. He was really good and checked me over, but said that based on my condition it didn't seem likely that I was having a heart attack*. Even so, he said heart attacks can present in a variety of ways, and an ambulance was already on its way. I guess the ambulance took about 25 minutes to arrive, and I was then taken into that to have an ECG. The ECG also showed absolutely no problem, but at this point I thought it better to be safe than sorry so went to Casualty (Lu stayed home with Amélie). Again, the ambulance staff were excellent, and reassuring, and agreed that I should go (probably so I wasn't wasting their time!).

*Apparently more classic symptoms would include a feeling of incredible pressure on the chest, and I would have looked ashen and just generally very ill.

Casualty is an odd place, at least at Frimley Park, and at least the bit you get taken into on a stretcher. It's like an office blended with a hospital ward, where you seem to get unceremoniously dumped in one of the corridors (albeit on a bed with wheels). This was made further embarrassing by me being in shorts, a Dangermouse T-shirt (Good Grief!), and flip flops. But equally I was there for something potentially important, so just weathered it.

After being assessed by the Triage Nurse it must have been decided that due to complete lack of serious heart attack symptoms I had to go and sit in the waiting area. I was worried about wasting everyone's time, but by the same token I thought "in for a penny, in for a pound", and that I was there and ought to finish the process.

(While in the waiting room there was a repeat of Panorama's Finished at Fifty. It was utterly depressing stuff about the employment situation for some of the over-50s, and I could obviously sympathise. I hope I'm not Finished at 38...)

By this time it must have been around 12:30am, and I waited a couple of hours before I was seen by a consultant. She gave me a general check over, with a bunch of movements to check how far I could move my neck and arms. There was still some muscular pain. Her assessment was that I'd had some sort of muscle spasm, which had affected all the muscles in my arm, shoulder, and neck. Why? She had no idea. Apparently I shouldn't have taken Ibuprofen due to my stomach problems, but Paracetamol was fine, which I should take if it happened again.

And that was that. So I took a (£25!) taxi home, and got back around 3am.

I was glad I went though, because I would have still been worried this morning if I hadn't done anything (thanks again to stegzy for the strong recommendation), which would have meant trying to get a GP visit, and then getting it all done slow time. Casualty wasn't busy, so I don't feel *really* awful about having wasted their resources (mostly the ambulance) too much. Also the pain I had felt... I've never felt anything like it, and that in itself was frightening.

Curiously Casualty was mostly drunks, people limping, and two mums with babies.

Amélie was up at 6am, so suffice to say the Taylor parents are a bit tired this morning.

And a curiously coincidental xkcd this morning...

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I'm glad to hear that you're OK. My paramedic friend says that they are trained to always take chest pains very seriously and "blue-light" people into Casualty because you can't take it too seriously.

I told M what had happened to you last night and he suggested that it could be the stress of being out of work having an effect on you. Let's hope that you get back into work v.v. soon for the sake of your health, eh?

Certainly the first guy who attended and the ambulance staff were first rate. I was worried about wasting their time, but they were very reassuring. What a tough job!

Despite all my whinging I never feel very stressed - perhaps because I whinge so much and vent it all - but equally I might be kidding myself.

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Blimey I'm glad you went to the hospital! That scouse monkey gave you good advice :)

Did you also tell the medics about the other issues - stomach ones....?

Heh, yeah that stegzy has a heart of gold :-)

They asked for my medical history, but didn't offer any thoughts on it unfortunately, even the fact I've had so many colds and stomach bugs of late. I've got an immunologist appointment in a couple of weeks re. the long-standing nausea/vomiting - I hope they've found something in the blood tests.

At least you took my advice, I've been trying to get billzy to get his frequent chest pains looked at for years.

As they said, heart attacks present themselves differently and its always best to be safe than dead. However A&E did not diagnose my heart attack instead it was the outpatients unit three days later. I felt 109% and was very shocked when I found out about it.

It seems really odd that they didn't pick up your heart attack, or at least that it was oncoming, with the first ECG. Incompetence, or was it just difficult to read perhaps? Did they ever explain that?

I had the ergo/ECG test back in Brazil a few years ago. I always wondered about by heart because my Dad has Angina and my maternal grandfather had a couple of heart attacks, and then died of one as well. Neither had problems though until 55+.

I always though Angina was a car made by Ford.

I've no idea why they didn't recognise it. Most of the medical people I've seen since then have suggested that my age may have been a reason why any anomalies on my ECG were ignored. Others suspect malpractice or that my heart attack occured sometime between my first ECG and my second one three days later.

Either way, I can thoroughly reccomend having a minor myocardial infarction as the tablets they put you on for the rest of your life include beta blockers, and boy do they make you feel indestructable and chilled.

Better than any smack or charlie.

Ah yes, they can prescribe those for stress IIRC, or at least used to.

Having seen Stegzy in the throes of an angina attack I know how scary these things can be. Well, I was scared, he was just in pain and waiting for the drugs to kick in. He was white like my MacBook is white.

Based on how I felt with just the arm and shoulder, I can't imagine what the real thing is like! :-(

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