I was quite glad I hoovered the carpet, the day before we had three paramedics in our bedroom. They weren’t there for any kind of hi-jinks: my idea of a good time doesn’t involve having three ECGs in the course of two hours.
Both the first paramedic, who arrived by himself in a car; and the other two, who came by ambulance, remarked on the number of books we have.
The first paramedic mentioned the books in passing. The other two said how nice it was, seeing all those books. You didn’t think it was too excessive? I asked, with a sigh of relief that no one had tripped over the book piles that march their way up our steep, ca-1890s staircase.
Oh, no, one of the paramedics replied. It’s much better than loads of empty kebab boxes. Do you see those a lot, or just with people who have suspected heart problems? I asked. I wasn’t terribly surprised when they said the latter.
Don’t look at me like that: I didn’t ring 999 for an ambulance because I thought I was having a heart attack. Those nice folks at 111, “NHS Direct” made the call.
As previously stated in this blog, I am not medically trained. However, I thought alternating pains in my stomach, sternum area, and lower jaw merited a 111 call. The words “heart attack” did cross my mind, but, all save the jaw pain was so mild, it barely merited the description “pain”. Plus, I didn’t have pains down my left arm, or what one of my first aid instructors memorably described as “a feeling of impending doom“. (1)
Ironically, whilst I know that feelings of anxiety can sometimes be mistaken for a heart attack, I was feeling pretty laid back that morning, after weeks and weeks of that old wheeze, depression and extreme – and I do mean extreme – anxiety. But that was then: that morning, I was feeling quite mellow. Well, as mellow as someone who’s mid-way through several loads of laundry can be.
It was jaw pain which led to my ringing 111, and agreeing to wait for an ambulance. The pain was pretty bad, and I couldn’t think of anything which could explain it. I stayed calm, right up to when the paramedic on the other end of the line said to sit down: no, don’t get up to look for the ambulance, or to get your coat, or even to pee.
My heart is fine. It took six hours from feeling that first twinge, to finally leaving hospital: three ECGs, and one x-ray later. I don’t begrudge the time: if that’s what it took to put my mind at rest, fair enough. So, a great big THANK YOU! to the NHS, for stepping up to the plate. And an equally big BOOO! to the saddo who wasted no time in taking Obamacare away from his less fortunate fellow Americans.
I’ve now used the NHS for three different things – cancer, mental health, and a suspected heart attack – in one year. I’m hoping that – aided by regular Mindfulness practice – I don’t need its help for more than a year. Make that a decade. Scratch that, make it a lifetime.
I’m also grateful that I turned veggie before I thought to try a kebab. After all, three out of three paramedics say reading is much better for you.
Or is it the empty boxes that are the real problem?
(1) Once heard, a phrase that is never forgotten.