We have 118 guests and no members online

1st September

Restless night.

Got up during the night whilst having difficulty sleeping, just restless so I thought. Went outside for a smoke, went back to bed.

2am - Less than an hour later, heart attack! My symptoms were as follows:

  • Discomfort in chest area
  • Discomfort in neck area of jawline
  • Massive ringing in my ears (pretty sure I was close to going unconscious) 

Luckily my partner was with me at the time, who rang an ambulance and about 30mins later, they arrived. 10mins before they arrived my discomfort in chest and neck had disappeared, and although I am laid on my bed thinking of any other excuse as to what just happenened, I didn't want to admit to myself or my partner that it was a definite heart attack. I think for me, I have always said and thought I had a strong heart (more on this later)

The ambulance guys were great, did the checks, had an ECG, and they noticed something wasn't quite right. So they gave me a choice!!!!!!

  1. They could take me to hospital - they made it sound as if i would just go in, get some blood tests done and I would be home in a few hours
  2. I could stay at home and carry on

Funny thing is, I thought about just staying home and going back to sleep, I was tired, but my partner was leaning me towards going to hospital, which I knew would be the right thing to do.......so off I went.

Disappointed, no blues and twos though :(

 


ps...... important to point out here that I felt NO pain at all. So don't always believe whats shown on TV. If you have discomfort, and things don't feel right, then its quite possible a heart attack is in progress and you NEED to react.

 


So arriving at the hospital, via A+E and found myself having blood tests, further ECG tests and a doctor or two speaking to me about how I felt when I had the heart attack. At this point, it wasn't clear what had happened. There was no proof and not the "classic signs" of a heart attack. So i was hoping it was something else like indigestion or a blip in the rhythm of my heart.

About 9am, a consultant came to speak to me with the results of the blood test and he indicated that the Enzymes from the blood result indicated a heart attack. What type, he couldnt say, minor? major? ...... the Enzymes would hold the clues from the blood test. (when you have a heart attack, the heart releases Enzymes and its these Enzymes in a blood test that are the indicators of how your heart has suffered....lower levels indicate a minor, whereas higher levels indicate something a bit more dangerous.....I do not know what levels indicate what, but later I will let you know the levels I reached whilst on the ward)

So here i was, hoping for good news, but I now have some form of proof that I have had a heart attack and when the consultant couldn't say how bad it was, I was still very hopeful that it was a little one. Imagine my surprise when the consultant had finished and started to walk off, stopped the doctor that was with him, and heard him say to the doctor, "ensure you write High Risk on the notes"

That was my first real indication that something was serious and I wouldn't be going home today!


So I find myself on the ward with the rest of the day ahead of me wondering about all sorts of things. What happens next? Whats for lunch? Do i have to wear a gown? Whats going on?

Later that day, a doctor appears on their ward round and has a chat with me. Bearing in mind I have been awake since before 2am. The conversation that I can remember is quite simple. I have had a heart attack, and I will be transferred to Bournemouth hospital as soon as possible to have an angiogram. 

Whats an Angiogram?? Good question because I didn't have a clue at all either. Here's a link to further info if you wish. Basically..... a wire is inserted into an artery (leg or arm) and using monitors they can see your arteries and the health of them.

Can you imagine thinking..... so someone is going to stick a wire down an artery, and as you're thinking this, you're looking at the arteries in your arm and wondering just how the hell are they going to do that?? How painful is that going to be? Jeez..... I'll be honest.... it unnerved me a lot. I didn't want to go through any pain. On the other hand, you're also thinking that it MUST be done if you want to get better and get fixed! Its a tough call. You have to go through the pain barrier to get better. No pain, No gain as we used to say, and still do on occasions.

Now I have the rest of the day and evening to think about this procedure and worry about it. I also have the thought of what will they find and if they do find something, are they able to fix it and how? Well...... with my trusty phone in my hand, I could easily google about angiograms etc etc...... but I am afraid, I am a coward (kind of) I just prefer not to know anything, let the professionals do their thing and hope whatever they do can fix the problem. I completely put my trust and faith in these medical professionals because their training must be so extensive to do this type of procedure. What I also don't want to do is read something and then worry like hell about the procedure and what if something goes wrong. Give me the basics, that will do.

My first night spent on a hospital ward in 20 years. Nothing has changed much, but it wasn't unpleasant. Lots of alarms from other beds, but the Acute Coronary Unit at Poole Hospital is actually a nice relaxing place, just as it should be. The next day I would be in Bournemouth Hospital anyway, so enjoy the evening.

strong heart, heart attack, discomfort

2nd September

So its the next morning in Poole Hospital. I've probably slept about an hour, due to several things. Alarms from patients heart monitors going off (including my own) and as its a mixed ward, theres an elderly lady really suffering from pain along with some dementia as she slips out of this world and reality and you can imagine just how frightening it would be for her, not understanding where she is and whats going on. Poor woman.

So with my heart monitor, I can detach myself from it so I can walk to the toilet. This is very useful because there is no dignity whatsoever in using a commode or a cardboard urine bottle, trust me when I say this. However, when needs must, then of course with the curtain pulled around you, you just have to go, despite the fact that everyone can hear you pooping and weeing..... No dignity.


Anyway, here I am starting my 2nd day at Poole Hospital and as I am by the window, I have a great view over the water in Poole. What a great view and how relaxing is that? Very relaxing and for a few seconds, I didn't think about what had happened to me and what I was about to endure.

Breakfast was served and if i can remember, it was cornflakes. I was quite hungry and enjoyed eating that, with a slice of toast as well. Food at Poole Hospital was good, tasty and enjoyable. I was confused however as to why they asked me to fill out a lunch menu and dinner menu because I was going to Bournemouth Hospital for angiogram. How wrong I was!!!! 


My partner turned up later in the afternoon with a few changes of underwear, toiletries and a few other bits to help me get through my day without getting too bored. Later I was asking nurses about what was happening to my transfer to Bournemouth Hospital for my angiogram? Surely I was going to Bournemouth Hospital today? The reply was that was the hope of what would happen, but of course, there had to be a bed available for me for an angiogram. That kind of makes sense doesn't it? Guess what happens when you're worrying about things? Yep..... you don't always think straight and think of the obvious. I was totally focused on my heart attack and the impending angiogram and other things that were on my mind. For instance, only the week before I put my house up for sale..... So I'm also thinking that I should contact the estate agents and let them know whats happened to me and potentially take the property off the market. Anyway....... nurse is indicating it probably won't be today and hopefully tomorrow I will be transferred to Bournemouth.

Hopefully???? Jeez, the worry never ends. So another sleepness night in Poole Hospital is upon me.

commode, poole hospital, heart monitor

11th or 12th September

I have one very vague memory of saying "I'm going to be sick" and started to retch and that was all i remember!


 

sick

3rd September

Good morning world I say to myself as the sun is rising over the water in Poole as I look out of the window. I survived another night. Now, why would you think this? Am I close to death? Possibly, but I am connected to a heart monitor so if during the night I have another heart attack, you would hope the nursing staff would react really quickly and revive me, so yes its possible I guess, but as I have always said to people, I have a strong heart, this heart attack was the result of too much smoking and its just a blip.


 Today the thought in my mind that's overtaking everything else is will I be transferred to Bournemouth Hospital today for my angiogram. Having spoken to the day shift nurses this morning, they are telling me how easy the angiogram is and there's nothing to worry about. How many times has someone said this to you about anything? "oh there's nothing to worry about" whatever the worry, its always at the front of everyones mind that there's nothing to worry about. RUBBISH!! Of course you're going to worry, what the heck is this procedure? How are they going to achieve putting a wire through my artery? Will I have another heart attack as they are doing that? Seriously, its a worry, forget when someone says "there's nothing to worry about", what do they know??


Its now mid afternoon and the hope that I will be transferred to Bournemouth Hospital is fading fast. Now the last few days after having text messages and phonecalls to my partner, she knows how anxious I am about this procedure and how gutted I am that I have had a heart attack, its just something I thought would never happen to me. The reason I am mentioning the phonecalls is that the chap next door to me (we are separated by a thin blue curtain) has heard all my phonecalls and conversations with people. I wish I could remember his first name now, but I can't be sure, but I think it could have been Terry, but this guy really helped me and let me explain why......


One time walking to the toilet, he stopped at my cubicle/bed and said the following to me "there's nothing to worry about having an angiogram you know"......I thought, here we go....... "I've had five before and its a quick and easy process, you won't feel anything" 

How would you react if you heard this? Would you think this guy is off his head on medication? Who on earth would have five angiograms?? Well...... Terry had indeed had five angiograms before. He is currently suffering from angina and is in constant pain. From what I could gather, the reason he is on the ward is that the nursing staff are trying to wean him off his pain medication. Terry used to work in the NHS, so he knows a few things.

strong heart, smoking, worry, angiogram, nothing to worry about

13th September

This is the weird thing. When I was able to think straight, my memory was getting my mobile phone and looking at the date on the front. It said Sunday....... my operation was on Thursday...... what happened on those other days????? I was really surprised by this. But to be honest, I wasn't too bothered, the main thing was that I was still alive. I had got through the surgery and apart from feeling sore and painful on my chest, I felt ok, but I was alive.


It was only last week that I discovered that they kept me sedated to ensure my blood pressure was stable (never had a problem before with my blood pressure) and when I did come round sometime on the friday, I was telling all the staff that I loved them!! Thats typical me!

I was also winding the nursing staff up apparently. I was on the phone to my partner and my son and saying there are no nursing staff here, they have abandoned me, but then the nurse that was with me said into the phone, "I am putting jam on his toast" I have no recollection of anything on friday at all. No idea of any conversations, no idea if I was even alive, and certainly no idea I had a sense of humour one day after a major operation. Like I said, the only memory I have is on sunday looking at my phone and wondering where the days had gone! It was bizarre but I did have to smile to myself, thinking I had made it through.


So once I had come round a bit more during the day, I then discovered I was reconnected to the cardio monitor (kinda makes sense) and I also had 2 holes in my stomach. One for a drain that connected to the outer wall of my heart and in the plastic bottle was a small amount of red liquid. It wasn't blood per se, but a red coloured watered down liquid. (I only found out when they removed it that it was connected to my heart)!! the other drain was because of a gastric bubble inside my chest or stomach area that appeared on an X-ray after the surgery. A lot of air I believe but here is a quote from Google which I have just looked up! 

The gastric bubble is a radiolucent rounded area generally nestled under the left hemidiaphragm representing gas in the fundus of the stomach. On a lateral radiograph, the gastric bubble is usually located between the abdominal wall and spine. It can be seen on chest or abdominal plain films

So a lot of gas !!


They also inserted a tube down my right nostril to help drain this gas as it wasn't shifting. It wasn't painful gas, it was just there but it needed to come out. The nostril drain was awful. Nurse told me to swallow as she inserted it and it was not only uncomfortable but all the time I had it in, it was irritating my throat to the point that it gave me a sore throat. I hated it. It was stuck up my nose and in my stomach for 24 hours, actually could have been longer to be honest, I cannot remember, but I don't ever want it again because after a few hours, they used a syringe to drain out the gas and liquid (brown watery stuff) that gurgled as it was being sucked up. It was not very nice. So anyone else going for a bypass, this is potentially something to look out for and enjoy!!! Of course, if you're sensible, you won't allow yourself to get into this position in the first place. Look after your heart, there is a knock on effect!


  Today I discovered the guy in the bed next to me was Ex Royal Navy. I didn't speak to him directly, but could hear his conversations with nurses etc. Turns out he was younger than me, and looking at him, I would say about 5 years younger, possibly more. He seemed nice enough but I think he was struggling a lot more than me. My recovery was going well I thought. Am pretty sure he had a bypass as well as he was wearing a jacket. The jacket is called a Post Thorax support Vest. Its a small jacket which I presume holds your chest together after surgery. Not sure why I didn't have one, but in case you ever find yourself going for this type of surgery, then you will be making a fashion statement amongst your friends as you will need to wear it after you leave hospital !! How lucky you are.


Later in the day, A nurse said that tomorrow you will need to start getting out of bed and going for a walk. I told her, lets do it now and lets get moving. I was very keen to recover quickly and get out of hospital. So the nurse got a portable cardio monitor and a stand for my 2 drains and off we went down the corridor!! This walk was slow and measured. I was weak in the legs and I was still a bit light headed. Went about 100 yards down the corridor, turned around and back we went. My first walk along the road to recovery.

gastric bubble, what day is it?, blood pressure

4th September

Another restless and sleepness night due to noise and a little worry on my mind as to what I would do today. Would it be watching another Amazon Prime movie on my phone? Would I finally be moved to Bournemouth Hospital? Would the mad woman finally quieten down and relax?


Breakfast consisted of cornflakes again, which I really enjoyed. I was getting a little bored with life on the ward at this point I have to say, I was hoping as a High Risk patient I would have been deemed a bit more urgent as it didn't seem like that I was that High Risk as they suggested. Perhaps they had made a mistake?


Just want to mention that the dementia woman was really kicking off this morning, she must be in her 70's/80's and she was shouting at the nursing staff (no swearing at all) but just being loud and telling the nursing staff to get out of her house! Obviously her house was her room. How she must have struggled to comprehend what was going on. Its a real shame she was there on her own. However, she did spy me across the room, and kept calling me Ernie. I think that was her brother, "Is that you Ernie" "Have you come to see me"....... poor woman must have been lonely. Anyone going into hospital as a single person or having been widowed, must be a terrible and heart breaking experience, it really must be. Its sad, but the nursing staff do an amazing job to talk to you, to people like that, that are lonely, confused, sad, emotional etc etc..... they are so professional and caring, it makes the NHS what is it. For the people, by the people. Its a precious institution we cannot afford to lose ever. 


 Lunch consisted of a Cheese Salad and I have to say it was gorgeous as you will see from the photo potentially. Lovely taste and much needed I think.

 

After lunch at around 3pm, I had the information that I had been waiting for. I was off to Bournemouth for an angiogram very soon!


 Transfer to Bournemouth was via ambulance with an elderly woman sat in a chair at the back whilst i was on the bed. Much more comfortable. We had to wear face masks for the transfer, but on all the wards I ended up on, masks were not worn by patients, but all nursing staff had to wear a mask. Tough job really wearing a mask and then having to deal with patients in all sorts of manner for their shift. Shifts were normally 12 hours at a time. That's a long time wearing a mask and working!! And you think you have a tough job?

 So we arrived at Bournemouth Hospital and then I was driven by wheelchair to the Coronary Care unit. I was put onto a bed that was lined up in the area of the Angiogram unit. I thought this is quick stuff, straight in, have a stent and I would be out. I was impressed.

About an hour passed by and I was wheeled into the Angiogram area. I think they had at least 2 operating theatres for Angiograms, its what they do at Bournemouth and specialise in. It was explained to me what the procedure entailed. Here is a very quick and simple run down of that procedure from Memory.

  1. In one arm, you're given Diazepam of some sort to relax you, not to put you to sleep though.
  2. In the other arm, a local anaesthetic is given in the wrist
  3. A very thin wire with Dye is injected into your artery
  4. The xray screen is then put in place around your neck and chest and the surgeons can see your arteries. heart and the dye running through your arteries and veins
  5. A wire is then inserted back into your wrist with a stent balloon for them to expand an artery if they need to

Thats kind of the procedure. Sounds fairly simple, only aches a little bit in various parts of your body, for me it was in the elbow and the underarm, just a gentle ache, nothing major at all.

Unfortunately for me, the surgeons could not insert a stent. I think it was because of the angle of my arteries and veins, but they could have said that to not worry me. They abandoned the procedure as it was too dangerous to proceed. Personally, I think my artery was too narrow even for a wire to enter to attempt to use a stent. The senior surgeon popped his head around from the screen he was using and with a smile said to me, its a bypass. "A bypass" i said? "oh shit" I said

Its ok he was telling me, you'll be fine........ Think I've heard this somewhere before!!


 

Bournemouth Hospital, Amazon Prime, High Risk, Professional, NHS

14th September

A few hours sleep during the previous day and last night and I am a bit more awake and alert today. I've still got this tube up my nostril and my throat is now sore. Sips of water to ease it, and of course breakfast was being eaten gently. Cornflakes of course, which was really nice as I was a little hungry.


A lot was going to happen today.


During the night, the elderly gentleman had an issue. Alarms were going off and a rush of people to his bedside. Whatever it was, they drew the curtains and the doctor on call came along as well and all was well. The alarms stopped after some intervention of some sort and all was quiet again. I am kinda guessing that it was an emergency. But when breakfast came along he was still sedated or asleep. This got me thinking. Was I ever in that position after my operation? Could this happen to me now at any point? It wasn't necessarily a worry, but a thought that would stay in my head for a while.


So after breakfast and winding up the nursing staff, I was asking to go for another walk. This walk felt a teeny bit easier than yesterday, perhaps it was confidence, or perhaps it was just time is a healer sort of thing. I actually managed 2 walks today, the last one was a couple of hours later at my request, and I started to gather a bit of pace, I was also walking to the toilet today with the help of a nurse to carry the portable cardio monitor whenever I needed to go. These guys are so helpful, they are marvelous at what they do.


Doctors daily rounds and was asked if I had been to the toilet today, I said yes but only a wee. Before they would let me out of the High Dependency ward, they needed to be sure that I could go to the toilet (No1 and No2)!!

Doctor was pleased with my recovery, it was going well and I was feeling really good. 

The nurse later asked me again if I had been to the toilet yet, I said no, and she said "its time for a suppository"!! I accepted that of course as I wanted to progress and ultimately leave the hospital. Suppository inserted and was told it would work in about 30mins to an hour. 5 mins later....... "Nurse" "I need the toilet" No time to walk to the toilet, A commode was brought in and the curtains swiped across. I managed to go, but not much, but it was a start for sure. I was on the road to recovery. 3 times I went that day, and I was proudly telling the doctor later that exact same thing. The nurse today took out 2 drains. A catheter, which felt a bit weird and a drain that was connected to the outer wall of my heart. This sounds scary and the thought in my head was, when they pull this thing out, is part of my heart going to be pulled out as well? Anyway, this was a bit painful and again felt weird. I tended not to look as they took it out...... when they had taken it out, the tube as about 15 inches long!!! I was shocked at how long this thin tube was. But at least it was out being the main thing.


I was now on different medication, I can't remember the names of the medication, but I believe it was aspirin and a beta blocker along with a statin in the evening. There could have been another tablet, but I am unsure. I was continually asked if i was in pain, but I wasnt, it was just discomfort from the chest wound, although later I found out that it was pain to some degree, but it was only after a few days a nurse said or someone said that if you are offered pain relief, take it !! It didn't really make much difference to be honest, but the last couple of days I did start to take paracetamol once a day, maybe twice a day. Although this now serves a memory to me that i was given morphine through a syringe into my mouth the day I woke up, could have been saturday, or sunday, again, its a vague memory but i remember saying "what? drink it?" so yes, into the mouth and suck it up big boy!! Morphine I am guessing had been flavoured as it tasted quite nice, did it relieve my pain? I have absolutely no idea at all.


 I was moved to an independent ward today. The cardio monitor was disconnected from me. The sticky patches that I have had for the last 2 weeks and being constantly replaced and additonal ones added for ECG and Echo Cardiogram, it was nice to not have those things on and be tied to a monitor after all this time. I was free!! It felt good apart from a sore that had developed where one patch had been replaced time and again on top of the same place. When they took this patch off, I am sure it took off a small thumbnail sized piece of skin and it was sore.

The ward I had been moved to was a cardio ward but at last I was off the High Dependency unit ward. the ward was ok, I was in a room with 4 other people, total of 5 in this room. We had our own toilet and shower as well. This was like moving out of a B+B and going to a 5 Star Hotel !!! Sister introduced herself to me when I was wheeled into the ward, and a chatty nurse who made me feel welcome. It was about lunchtime and lunch was served. I was able to get into my own clothes now, no gown, so I was living the life of luxury reclining in bed in my own t shirt and thin trousers (it was warm on the wards) I could get up and go to the toilet all by myself without telling anyone I was going. I felt like a grownup!! 


I was speaking to the sister and telling her how good I was feeling and that my partner is a nurse and I would be going back to her place so that she could look after me and for the last 2 days, I had been saying this all the time. It was a positive mental attitude thing but also putting it into the mindset of nurses, sisters and doctors that I was talking to, that I would be well looked after when I eventually leave, and suggesting that I could free up a bed for someone and still be looked after back at home. I think this worked as the sister replied to me by saying that she would have a word with the doctors and see how feasible that might be.


Later in the afternoon, the doctors did their rounds and again I suggested about going home sooner rather than later as I was feeling really good and I think I am making a good and quick recovery. They didn't disagree with this, but they were cautious by caveating anything said by ensuring that I was fit enough and my oxygen levels needed to be at a certain point and to ensure there was no bleeding going on internally from my heart or arteries before they would let me go. I was a bit deflated by this, but I totally understood that they had to ensure I was in a safe position after such a major operation. Of course I understood this, but I did feel fine, but i guess you can never know for sure until something happens.

***FUN FACT***

When you have a bypass operation, once they break open your sternum, they then collapse the lungs by hand to allow the surgeons better access to your heart and all that entails. When you wake up from the operation, one of the first things that they tell you to do is breath deeply. Easy enough you think, but the chest is a bit sore as its just been opened up, so its shallow breaths and over time, the breaths get bigger and bigger until you feel your lungs expanding and getting a full breath. This doesn't happen in a day. It took me about 3 weeks to get a full breath with little pain and discomfort. So be prepared to take it slowly. Its not a race!


 

morphine, pain relief, chest wound, walk

5th September

After my Angiogram, I was then transferred onto a Acute Coronary Care ward within Bournemouth Hospital, it was literally a stones through from the Angiogram theatres. It was a 4 man room, and there was plenty of room. It seemed to be quite a nice ward, well laid out, but the view was not like Poole Hospital. My window looked out onto a couple of trees and then another building, but at least I could see a bit of nature. I think I was on the 2nd floor, although you get so disorientated when you enter into a hospital you have never been before and you have other things on your mind as you can guess, not to worry about what the view is going to be like!


Breakfast was nice, cornflakes for me, I do like my cornflakes and a bit of toast. Unusual for me because I tend not to have breakfast at home. Nice little treat under the circumstances. So the nursing staff were nice, good humoured and professional as always.

So I didnt sleep much at all, but when the lights came on and nursing staff started to move around with medications etc, I managed to chat to one of the senior staff. I was asking about the bypass and just needed someone to reassure me more than anything. It transpired that I had a Critically narrowed artery! For me, this sounds exactly as it is...... a very narrow gap for blood to pass. Surely that's not a good thing? The answer to this came about an hour later when I walked to the toilet and when I got back to my bed, I started to have a little bit of a sweat. Similar to when I had a heart attack. Luckily the nurse came over not long after I got back onto my bed and asked if there was anything I needed. I told her that I had walked to the toilet and now felt sweaty. I said, put the back of your hand on my brow to test. So she recognised that all was not right. She told me to stay there and she would be back. She came back with an aspirin, which I took, and then a blood test a little while later.


The blood test was purely to see if the heart had produced any enzymes to indicate damage to the heart. A while later a doctor or consultant appeared along with the sister of the ward. To put it simply, I was told my levels were now 400 whereas in Poole Hospital my levels were 100. So a dramatic increase. Not sure if i had another heart attack or not, I just got a bit sweaty as far as I am concerned, but from this point onwards I was confined to bed. If i wanted to go to the toilet, they would take me on a wheelchair all of 10 yards if that. You can't argue with that. If walking a short distance was going to end my life, then I shall stay on my bed for sure! Now that;s a bit of a scary thought. Just how narrow was my artery that walking a short distance would potentially cause more damage to my heart. What if I didnt go to hospital on the morning that I had my heart attack? The ambulance crew did give me a choice. What if I had said no, I just want to go back to bed and sleep. To be honest, I am fairly certain I wouldn't have lasted the day if I had done that. I would have had another heart attack and that could have been fatal. Wow. How close was that? How defining was the choice me and my partner had made at 2am in the morning to go to the hospital? I try not to dwell on it but I think it proves to me and anyone else reading this that if you have discomfort in your chest or neck or both and its unusual for you to have a feeling like this, consider the fact that you may be having a heart attack and please...... ACT upon it. Listen to your body, its trying to tell you something really important !!


 

heart attack, discomfort, enzymes, critically narrowed artery, neck pain

15th September

 So here I am in the morning, having slept in a different ward and a much quieter experience than the High Dependency ward. Having said that, there is a chap opposite me who is elderly. Ex RAF and is elderly. He sounds like he used to be an officer, well spoken, quietly spoken and after hearing some of the conversation he had with a nurse, doctor and a sister during the day, it appears he is either suffering a little of Dementia, or people are not listening to what he has to say. An example is at breakfast time, he was asked by a Health Care Assistant what he wanted for breakfast. She asked him a couple of times, but he was asleep!! Later in the day, he was given food that he hadn't ordered and he complained that he hadn't ordered it. The same woman said that is what he had ordered, but I know for a fact he was asleep. He got quite agitated by that. I can totally understand why. Poor guy, it seems like he has been on the ward for sometime, I don't know why, and I am not blaming anyone, but I felt really sorry for him. It seemed he was having a tough time. On the phone to his wife, and telling her that he was being listened to etc etc. It feels unfair, but I don't know the whole story. I hope he has recovered from whatever his condition was and is at home with his wife now. Fingers crossed for him.


Not much happening on the ward today, had a blood test, seems to be a routine thing for me. Today was the day I noticed just how bruised both my arms were. Purely from blood tests and different cannulas being inserted across 3 different hospitals. 

  


Today was chill out day. Watching a brilliant movie on Amazon Prime on my phone with my headphones in to block out some of the noise of the ward but I was much more awake today from everything that had happened and I felt like doing something different. Book of Eli with Denzil Washington. Such a great movie. If you haven't seen it, then you must watch it. Really good.


 In the afternoon, I asked sister what the chances were of going home tomorrow as I was feeling good and I think I was recovering well and quickly (I can be persistent in my thinking sometimes) Sister was good fun, we had some banter as I was persisting in telling her my partner is a nurse and could look after me whilst freeing up a bed on her ward. She relented a little by saying she would speak to the doctor about me. Imagine my surprise that less than 2 hours later, the doctor was at my bed suggesting that I was recovering well, but there are indicators they must adhere to which depend on when I can leave. So the crucial thing was blood pressure (through all 3 hospitals my blood pressure was taken every 4 to 6 hours, it was relentless) oxygen levels and a blood test that ensures a lot more things are starting to level off as the body starts to heal and returns back to some normality after all the drugs you're given immediately after a bypass operation (magnesium and Potassium being the major ones). So tomorrow morning, a blood test would be taken and a few hours later the results of that blood test would determine my eligibility of leaving. My fingers and toes were all crossed for the morning!! Time now to relax and get some sleep because tomorrow could be a big day!

blood pressure, suppository, road to recovery, walking, blood test, bruised arms, doctor, sister, dementia

6th - 9th September

I have included 3 days here as each day was much the same. Wake up, take medication, lay on bed doing crosswords, listening to music through my headphones, eat 3 times a day and get wheel chaired to the toilet numerous times! My partner and my son took turns in coming to see me which was nice to break up the day but it was only for 1 hour a day maximum. My last day in Bournemouth and my brother came to see me. I hadn't seen him for over 6 months due to Covid Lockdown and it was only the week before my heart attack I was trying to arrange to visit him and his family. Imagine my surprise when the nurse poked her head behind my curtain in the morning and said someone had come to see me. Visiting was only in the afternoons, and she said it was my brother! "My brother"! I said, and yes there he was poking his head around. What a lovely surprise.

Previous to this visit, he was saying that when I came round from the Op, I would be called Davina and have 36GG bust. Made me laugh and he always does. smile


9th September, this is the day I joined the Army many years ago. You never forget that 1st day and it has always stuck in my head. I was a fit young lad back then, I am still fit, just have a dodgy artery that needs fixing!


Today (9th September) was the day I was moved to Southampton General Hospital in the back of an ambulance. They gave me about 3 hours notice, so plenty of time to pack up my things. My partner had been in the day before with a box of chocolates and some thank you cards so i could thank them for looking after me. Bournemouth Hospital nursing staff were really nice, just like all the other hospitals really. So i wrote out a card and handed the chocolates over and the card when I was wheeled out of the ward.

40mins later, I was in Southampton......things were about to change!


 I am taken to a ward on the 2nd floor and into a room that has 6 men including myself and in close proximity to everyone else. Its not a particularly pleasant experience as the 2 men in front of me isn't quite with it. They have to have a carer constantly watching them 24 hours a day. Why? I have no idea but one doesn't speak particularly well, perhaps mentally incapable to a point and the other........ is a bit odd. Especially when a nurse is doing a procedure on the other man and this guy who is directly in front of me is peeping around his curtain!! Both gentleman are older than me, but not by much and that's definitely not an excuse.


I also had another blood test by someone called Zoe. Zoe was very nice, very pleasant and talkative which is nice when someone is sticking a needle in your arm to reassure you. Zoe was hard of hearing apparently, and she had a golden labrador on a lead as her hearing dog. I have never heard of such a thing. I was surprised to see a dog on the ward, but a pleasant surprise. Even more surprising was that Zoe was clearly a man, dressed as a woman. Absolutely nothing wrong with that and each to their own, but as the blood test was being done (took an inordinate amount of time, a good 30mins to have a blood test and put a cannula in) I was thinking at what stage was Zoe at in her transformation? Perhaps there was no transformation at all, but was happy living her life as a woman. Bless her, she was nice. But I got a little concerned that she came back to see me 3 times for some reason and eye contact was direct. I think I must have made a friend as I was just being myself and being nice to her. Heres a photo of her handywork. Good job I thought.


There was no food for me when I arrived as it was after tea time, and because of the travelling, I missed tea time at Bournemouth Hospital. I asked the nurse about 8pm whether I could get any food and she said she would phone the kitchens and find out. About 9.30pm, I  ended up with a sandwich from somewhere. I don't think it was from the kitchen, and I didn't care, I was just hungry but at least I had something before turning in for the night. I was of course hooked up to a cardio monitor, so many leads hanging off me.

I was also told that tomorrow afternoon I would be having my operation and nil by mouth from 6am tomorrow. Deep joy I thought, apprehension about the operation started to creep in.

I didn't sleep much that night due to the two guys opposite me and due to the noises of everyone elses cardio monitor. Surprising just how much they alarm and depending on whats wrong, the alarm will NOT stop unless intervention from a nurse to push a button to reset it. It gets very irritating, very very very quickly!!!!

Boy was I tired.......9 days with very little sleep across Poole, Bournemouth and now Southampton Hospital. 

 

nil by mouth, southampton, cardio monitor, not much sleep

16th September

I slept on and off during the night. There was a massive alarm with red lights all over the ward. I got out of bed and thought it was a fire alarm and I asked a nurse if it was, she replied, no its not a fire. It was a patient in serious trouble! That was tough to think that someone had gotten through surgery only to fall at the last hurdle. Not saying they had, but the alarms were so loud, you certainly couldn't fail to notice it. Fingers crossed this person made it through whatever drama they were having. I went back to bed and the alarms were turned off soon after. I managed to doze off for a bit longer I think.


Woke up a little while later, read my book for a while and eventually breakfast was served, probably about 2 hours after I woke up, am guessing I had been awake since about 4.30am. Cornflakes again was tasty followed by a cup of coffee. As I was eating I was wondering at what time the blood test might be. Earlier the better surely would be best. It was all a bit of a waiting game now I guessed.


At 8am the nurse came round for my blood test. I thought this was a great start to the day. An early blood test and if things were ok, I could be out by lunchtime. The Phlebotomist was a man. But he wasn't just a Phlebotomist. he was also a nurse. A very jovial fun guy who was Polish, because I asked him, he had been in the country for about 15 years and had his own building company, but something happened and he had to give up the company and found himself working at Southampton General Hospital as a nurse. He was well suited for this role as he was firm but had a great sense of humour and he was genuinely a nice guy, thats how his persona came across to me. Unfortunately for me, he wasn't very successful the first time he attempted to take blood. It was a bit painful, think he was struggling to find a vein as my arms were full of holes from the last 2 weeks. He told me to drink at least 2 cups of water and he would come back in 30mins to attempt to take the blood again. He came back and was much more successful this time. At last it was done and off to the lab the blood went. I was super confident that I was all ok and although i felt absolutely fine, or as fine as I could be under the circumstances, you just never know for sure about blood!!


 It was a long morning....... waiting and waiting. Tried to keep myself occupied with another film on my mobile, wasn't that good as I can't even remember the name of it. Think I gave up after a while and went back to reading my book. My brother had recommended The Count of Monte Cristo. Its really not my type of thing as its written in old english and in some parts, difficult and slow to read. I perservered for a couple of weeks with it, think I got to page 406 out of 4800 as it was downloaded onto my mobile. I haven't touched it since i was out of hospital, but you never know, I may go back to it at some point as it did get better. So around 11.30am, I got the blood results from Sister and the Doctor and they were happy for me to leave hospital today. The happiness and the joy was overwhelming. I was so desperate to get out of hospital and back home to recouperate and the thought of being able to sleep without noise was amazing.


So the question was, when could I go as I needed to inform my partner so she could pick me up. "Shall I start packing my bags now Sister?"

"No, we have to request from Pharmacy your medication that you will leave with today"

"Ah, of course, it hadn't even crossed my mind at all"

It genuinely hadn't crossed my mind as up until the heart attack, of all the 56 years I have been on Earth, I have never had medication prescribed to me to take on a regular basis, apart from antibiotics for laryngitis about 15 years ago that i had to take over 7 days. I was (am) generally of good health up until my heart attack. I always thought that I would never have a problem, I kinda felt indestructable. How ridiculous is that? Or am I just super confident in myself? Or just idiotic?


So the pharmacy are sorting out the medication I will need when I leave hospital. "Sister, what time shall I tell my partner to come and collect me? A rough time will be good"

"To be on the safe side, go for 4.30pm"

"4.30pm? thats almost 5 hours away, I'm only waiting for medication, is that right?"

"Yes but pharmacy are busy and it does take them normally a few hours"

Just imagine the expression on my face towards sister, my jaw dropping to the floor, my eyebrows raised and this incredulous piece of information thats just been given to me. Perhaps I am not quite getting it, but to me, I am imagining going into a chemist and asking for a list of drugs, lets say 4 drugs from a list along with the dosage. As long as you can read english, lets say 2 mins per drug to be found and counted out, and being generous, lets say 10mins to sort out my medication if I went to a chemist.

Why would or should it take Southampton General Hospital Pharmacy department a few hours to pick and pack a few drugs for me? Of course, there are hundreds of patients in this hospital, but they aren't all being discharged at the same time as me (or are they)?? There were 3 of us from the same ward being discharged today, so perhaps there were an awful lot of patients leaving today. My hunch is that they are understaffed massively!!!! I am imagining one little old lady in the pharmacy department, that retired years ago, but came back to work when Boris Johnson sent out the call to all retired medical staff to consider coming back for a while whilst Covid-19 was wreaking havoc (as it still does) That little old lady with a zimmer frame is rushing as fast as she can but is happy in her little world doing a good deed, but extremely slowly. I have probably exaggerated here slightly as you can imagine. There's probably 2 of them running around on their zimmer frames!!


So I phoned my partner, told her the good news that I was leaving today, but not before 4.30pm. Whatever plans she had, now had to be changed because of me, and to be honest, I know she had plans (after I left hospital) but she didn't mention it till much later. I was only interested in myself getting out of hospital.

The 3 of us that were leaving our ward had been moved out of our bay and to the discharge lounge at around 2pm. Then we were moved from the discharge lounge 30mins later to the kitchen area of the ward we just left !! The reason being that there was no nurse available to keep an eye on us in the discharge lounge. Good job really as we were on the 2nd or 3rd floor and the window in the discharge lounge was fully open, proper wide open with no safety clasp or setting for the window. I believe thats illegal, but that was just a thought that crossed my mind. 


So in the kitchen on the ward, we could help ourselves to tea and coffee, and there was an ice cold water machine that dribbled water out when you attempted to fill your paper cup! It was so hot on that ward, as it was not only hot outside, but hot on the ward as well due to windows not being opened very much, and all the bays on the ward had fans on to circulate the warm/hot air much more vigourously. How lucky we all were! 

2 and a half hours waiting with 2 people I didn't know and hadn't spoken to before. It was like a dentists waiting room, no-one said anything.

I had to break the silence at least. There was a young guy and an old guy. I spoke to the young guy first whilst the older guy was sat in the corridor on a chair in front of a fan (I thought that was a great idea) The young guy had a faulty valve from birth, and had been advised wait till he was older to have it fixed (no idea how they fix a faulty valve) but he had a similar scar to me down the front of his chest. He worked on computers for Sage and he was 28. Nice enough guy.

The guy that was out in the corridor in front of the fan, came back in as I was getting some water, "Would you like a cup of water?" I said

"Yes please, thank you" he said in his irish accent. I had heard him on the ward as he was in the bed next to me in our bay talking to nurses and doctors whilst i was in there. He was a softly spoken man, polite and nice.

That morning, I had heard him speaking to sister about her holiday. He had worked in Guernsey before and was now working on Alderney. He was a Roman Catholic Priest.

I struck up conversation with him as he as in his 70's, certainly didn't look like it, but he was nice to talk with and I was genuinely curious to know what he planned to do. I have no idea what his heart problem was, but I did hear in the morning that they had found some lumps on the xray on his lungs. I am guessing it may be a tumour or worse. I mentioned that he was probably looking forward to going back to his congregation. But he said he was probably going to retire now. (perhaps because of his health scare) I asked him about whether the church provided a pension or not. He told me he would get about £5000 - £6000 per year. (thats fairly poor considering a life of priesthood) I felt genuinely sad that the lumps were found. A priest with health problems? Surely God shouldn't allow this? A devoted man of faith for his whole life being punished like this? It makes no sense at all and to coin a phrase, life isn't fair sometimes. Pure dedication and devotion though.


Time went on and the 3 of us had idle chit chat and we waited....... 4.30 came and went.

I asked Sister if things had been forgotten, and professional as the staff are, she was apologetic and said she would try and find out. She came back to us 10mins later saying they are still working on the medications. Really not much else she could have said really. I messaged my partner and told her, and that I would phone her once I knew more.

Just after 5.30pm, all 3 of us got our medications. It was certainly a long wait, but you can't grumble, I was just happy to be going home, as I am sure the other two were as well. But we had to now wait for porters to take us out of hospital. One guy walked and 2 of us in wheelchairs. It was a long way to the entrance of the hospital and after a major operation, I couldn't have walked that far I am sure. I was still a bit weak and wobbly on my legs.


Didn't have to wait too long and the porters took us out. My bag of medication on my lap. I was happy to be leaving. Eventually we got to the entrance. Stopped a little before the entrance and waved goodbye to the porters and thanked them. Before I entered the revolving doors, I could see my partner outside (Southampton General Hospital allowed NO visitors at all during Covid-19) and I could also see my eldest son as well. Both with their masks on. What a fantastic surprise to have my eldest son there for when I left hospital. My youngest was working in Saudi Arabia and couldn't get a flight due to Covid-19 and the company rules, but it was great to have one of my sons there on leaving hospital. I won't lie, it was emotional after not seeing anyone at all since I was in Southampton General Hospital for the last 6 days. At last, I was going home.


***Footnote***

The literature that  you are given whilst in hospital indicate a minimum stay of 7 days after a bypass operation. I was determined that I would get out at the 7 day point and thats why I was constantly thinking of a positive mental attitude even though the first day or two after the op, I felt a bit rough around the edges, to be expected of course, but I got out of there in 6 days. I achieved something in adversity.

10th September - OP Day

So the day has finally arrived. I had already spoken to my son about what happens if I don't survive and a tearful verbal explanation to him about the assets I had and how they were to be split up (I didn't tell him everything about my assets, they would discover those upon my death)

So just to be clear, from day 1 I have had a very positive mental attitude about this whole situation. You will discover the power of that later on my recovery. So although I was very confident I would get through the operation, there's always going to be a tiny bit of you that wonders "what if" and I think that is perfectly normal for anyone to have that thought.


 So after not much sleep, here I was laid on my bed about 5am thinking of the operation, thinking of the noises I was hearing around the ward and down the corridor. Taking sips of water even before 6am isn't a bad thing and I wasn't particularly thirsty anyway, I was just sleep deprived! So during the morning, I think I had reduced medication, for instance less blood thinners because of the op, Nurse came round and told me I would have a pre-med before the operation (I didn't get a choice) about an hour before the operation. Consultant came later in the morning to discuss the operation and what he would be doing (think it might have been the registrar to be honest) and he told me that I had been very lucky. Am guessing he was saying that I had been lucky to survive the heart attack as the artery was critically narrow, but he didn't say that in particular, he was generalising I think for me to be in this position 9 days later after a heart attack having a bypass. I am really not sure what he meant by the comment, but all the time leading up to this point, I had said the same thing over and over again in my head anyway. I am lucky to be here and very grateful for an operation that would fix my problem and give me many years of life ahead of me. How very lucky we all are to have an NHS and the people that chose this path as their career. Amazing people.


 As time is moving on, people have munched on their breakfast (I wasn't jealous at all) but every hour or so I was taking tiny sips of water, just to wet the lips and ease my dry throat. It felt like a long morning waiting for my operation, I think it was delayed by an hour or two as lunchtime came and still I was on the ward. Perhaps there was a complication in surgery for the person before me? I didn't want to think about that. 

Anyway, not long after lunchtime, the nurse came in, put a cannula into my arm and gave me some pre-med. Not sure what it was but she said I would soon start feeling drowsy and relaxed. Ok I thought, and waited for the swimmingly lovely feeling to envelope me in its medication..... 30mins later, I remember saying to the nurse, I don't feel any different, its having no effect. She said something, I can't remember what it was now...... but I must have closed my eyes and that's the very last thing i remember for 2 days!!!

NHS, what if, sleep deprived, pre-med, Positive mental attitude

Special Thanks

Lastly and certainly not least a special thanks to the following people:

ALL NHS staff who cared and looked after me whilst in Poole Hospital, Bournemouth Hospital and University Southampton Hospital

Special thanks in particular to the following:

My partner Jo for her initial call for an ambulance and looking after me whilst recovering.

Dr Szabolcs Miskolczi my cardiac surgeon who saved my life.

Created & Designed by Zetec X

Comments

Shaun
Mr
An informative read in general a very similar experience, how many grafts did you actually have?
Wednesday, 04 October 2023
Alexander Brodrip
A great account - thanks
Brilliantly written, I formative and helpful for anyone that’s been through or about to have heart surgery.
Wednesday, 09 November 2022
Geoff
Thank You
Thanks for this - I've not read so much for years - will get onto the Recovery as soon as I get the chance. Not looking forward to the nostril bit - I sneeze every time anything goes up my nose!
Friday, 28 January 2022