51:32:35 l0:03:22

TGI Paul

Monday, May 15, 2006

An Eventful May.....

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster this month so far, all starting with a trip to the University College Hospital of London 3 Fridays ago.

I'd been having some chest pains all that week, and come the Friday evening at work (a particularly stressful shift with more than the usual staff sicknesses, burnt pizzas and pissed customers doing anything for a freebie... Oh the joys of Upper Street!), and the pain had developed into a long, dull ache with occasional pressing pain. By around 11pm, the tops of my arms had started aching, my thighs going a little numb and my left hand started to tingle.

All these signs were far too familiar to me following my heart attack in Dec '04, so naturally I was starting to worry, but (unnaturally?) just trying to get through the last 2 hrs of my shift. However, when I started getting the cold, clammy sweats and then vomited, I thought it was best to ring NHS Direct. I explained what was happening, and asked if I should go to an A&E after work or go straight back to the London Chest Hospital where they'd performed the double angioplasty that I'd had last time. The girl said she was going to get a nurse to call me back.

Less than 5 minutes later, I got a call from a Nurse who asked me a series of questions. Yes, my chest was hurting, yes, my arms were aching, yes, my hand was tingling, yes, I felt nauseous etc etc.....

She said that given my history, she wanted to send an ambulance straight away. I asked if I could have one in about an hour after I'd cashed up. I know how ridiculous that sounds, especially now I've put it in black and white, but I was the only person there that night who could cash up the tills and knows the new computer system so I was worried about leaving the place! OK!!

Anyway, before I'd had a chance to relay the information to the key people I had on that night and brief them on what to do, two paramedics were at the door and came through the restaurant with their oxygen tank. You can only start to imagine the alarm.

They came into the office and put the mask on me. They asked all the same questions, I said all the same replies. We went into the ambulance outside the restaurant for an ECG. I could see all the staff staring in amazement out of the window as they watched their boss getting helped into an ambulance. I hadn't had a second to tell them I wasn't going anywhere.

The ECG was fine, but, again "given your history..." they though it best I went into the hospital.

I sorted my staff out, made a couple of calls to the other managers to let them know what was happening, before being strapped onto my bench in the ambulance. On went the lights and we were off. It was only now I realised how scarred I was, and let the tears go.

I obviously wasn't an emergency as over the next 3hrs I saw just the one person! They took my bloods, injected me with some clotbuster drugs, and gave me a morphine injection to ease the pains. Around 3am, someone else came and took me to x-ray to get a picture of my chest, then I was back on my trolley in the corridor.

At 5.15am, they said they were going to keep me in for the night (hadn't they already?!), and I waited for someone to take me up to a ward.

Now, I really have to tell you about this ward; it was fantastic! I had a four bed room to myself, it was clean and modern and I had one of those pull down monitors over my bed with 24hour radio and tv on, as well as movies, games and internet access and my own phone which opened up into a 'qwerty' keyboard. WOW! Everything but the radio though was charged and you had to buy a card. Luckily the chap that had been there before me had left his old one with £6.55 credit on it.... game on!

The nurse said he'd sort me out a snack as I'd been up all night, and I'd hardly had time to log on to yahoo when he returned with a 'happy meal' style box with some cheese and biscuits, a yoghurt and a juice drink in it... what an angel!

I nodded off around 7am, and happily they left me to sleep through breakfast. I awoke after ten to find my friend M sat in the chair next to me with the Times and a bottle of my favourite strawberry Volvic. We were meant to be going to Derby that day to see a Sondheim show, so I'd text him before getting in the ambulance last night to let him know what was happening and he'd come over as soon as he saw the text in the morning. It was lovely to see him and have some friendly company, and he stayed with me all day.

I got the all clear later that afternoon, and M and I came back to mine. The doctors put the whole experience down to anxiety and tension. Needless to say I took the week off work!

So, I've made a few changes. My first day back at work I asked for a transfer. I need to work in a branch a bit calmer, a bit more predictable, and I need to work in a branch where I'm in charge. Not having the autonomy to do what I can see needs doing is driving me mad, and my new boss and I don't always see eye to eye. I can usually 'manage up' if I can be arsed, but frankly I'm tired of every shift being a battle. I just need my own place now. I'm too old to be a bloody deputy! That was all accepted and my Ops Manager reckons he should be able to find me a branch in the next 2 or 3 months, so that went very well!

Next step..... the cigarettes. Those of you that know me know what a hopeless addict I am and how tough it is imagining me as a non-smoker, but I can't believe I'm so bloody stupid that despite a heart attack and a double angioplasty at the age of 35 I'm still smoking more than 30 a day!! And with a massive credit card debt I'm still wasting all that cash! I've tried, obviously I have, (I even tried hypnotism twice!) but never had a strong enough will... or possibly the desire for self-preservation? Alot has changed lately though, mainly due to some excellent work with my therapist, and also alot because of Alfie.

So they've stopped. 3 days nows. I went to bed last friday night and just said "Thats it! I'm never having another cigarette!" as I put the last one of a packet out.

Sunday was hard as I was off work and manically had to keep myself busy all day. I now have the cleanest kitchen in Hackney I'm sure! I've bought loads of sweets, fruits and nuts so I can sit and watch a bit of television, and I have more patches on me than Andy Pandy (I very nearly rolled one of them up and smoked it but I managed to hold back!!)

So, I shall be typing more, no doubt, to give my fingers better things to do than puff.... please wish me luck..... P xx

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