Tuesday 16th August 06:15: I awake to the usual blood pressure tests & look around me. The room looks small & strange, with unfamiliar faces. Then I remember my journey through the hospital corridors, in my bed, negotiating food trolleys, patients, visitors & staff, steered & cheered by two lovely nurses from the DCU. I remember reading the sign on entry: Ward 33A Cardiac High Dependency Unit & once again the seriousness of my condition begins to seep into my brain, but still no emotional response.
Today is Tuesday: a new day. The staff are as amazing as ever; going about their daily work, dropping by to check & do the usual ‘observations.’
11:15: I manage a conversation with Heidi, a ward nurse. We cover everything from tattoos (I have a very colourful sleeve & back piece which was noticed on my way back from the shower), to fears, to coping with trauma, to family, friends & beyond. One patient in our 4-bed ward is disgusted that we were so personal with our chat as ‘he was a very private man.’ He should not have been listening as we were talking one-to-one.
I feel safe, cared for & secure in my new home. The ECG above my bed continues to draw its silent traces across the screen. I am allowed to ‘unplug’ to visit the bathroom & shower which is luxury. 10-feet to the toilet & 10-feet back to my bed exhausts me. From a very fit 58-year-old I am reduced to an invalid. How long will this last? I do not know but I hope that planned surgery will make it better.
Minutes & hours pass. Activity never ceases. Patients leave. New patients arrive. Conversations strike-up between inmates & we exchange greetings, stories & aspirations (well, most of us do). Our ‘nectar trolley’ (drinks & biscuits) visits every couple of hours. Routine is somehow unroutine as patients change in condition & require new interventions or treatments. I am stable so blood pressure assessments are reduced to once every 4 hours. I get chance to doze.
Doctors come & go. I am reminded again by a Consultant Cardiologist that I have had a heart attack. A bit more sinks in. Plenty deflects off into the air. Getting used to the facts is not easy. My wrist bands remind me that I have already been in 2 hospitals & received numerous treatments & interventions to get me this far. Results of blood tests continue to confirm the facts.
Then why does my brain not? I have no answer, except that intellectually I know; emotionally I still do not.
18:30: My family visits again in the evening & I am reminded of how tough this is on those not in the ward with me. they only see a snapshot during their visit. They only pick-up fragments of information from my texts, e-mails & Facebook posts. They want to be involved but cannot.
Yet they are!!
Their visits, smiles, words are all an integral part of my recovery. They have helped me get this far. they will help me move forward. For now we chat about home, work, friends. They bring some Get Well cards which again are uplifting. They like my new home. I like them being there.
21:30: The ward is quiet again. I unplug for one last bathroom visit then settle down to sleep. A nurse appears saying, “No, he’s still talking so he’s not dead!” One of my ECG leads has become dislodged again & my heart rate is zero. The sound of the alarm at the nurses station will eat into my subconscious such that I will awaken very time I hear, whether it is due to me or not. Familiar things can be reassuring; they can also be disturbing!
22:15: The lights dim & once more I reflect on the day. I am still here for which I am truly grateful. I have survived another day & am one day nearer my surgery & recovery. I am grateful for friends & family. I am eternally grateful for the doctors & nurses. I feel secure. I feel loved. I sometimes feel ill but mainly feel no symptoms. With my infusion pump now disconnected I no longer have a headache. I have seen more pill for which I need a degree in syllables to pronounce. I have had more blood samples taken & drugs injected that I feel like a colander, sure I will leak if I drink water.Above all I am thankful to have made it through the day.
What will tomorrow bring? I have no idea. For now I am just happy to close my eyes & sleep, until the next round of observations in 4 hours. I doze to the sound of muted voices & beeping monitors.
But why am I here? I think I may have had a heart attack. Time will tell …