Another Day in A&E
Well, I wasn’t expecting that! I had some neck, back and chest pains on Monday evening. They felt muscular so I wasn’t too worried, it just felt like a stiff neck, along with the chest pains that I get on and off all the time since my heart attack. I had an uncomfortable nights sleep and it was still sore in the morning but not too bad. Things got a little worse around lunchtime with more chest pain than neck pain so I took some of my GTN spray to see if that would make a difference. A little while later I then felt a little bit ‘weird’ whilst sat at working my computer. At one point I felt uncomfortable enough that I thought it was time to tell Anna I wasn’t feeling too great. I walked into the other room to tell her but collapsed to the floor en route whilst in the kitchen.
Anna heard me go down so came to my rescue. Apparently I was then sat uncomfortably on the floor trying to speak but was completely incoherent for a minute or so. I came around pretty quickly and then got really clammy and started sweating profusely and felt sick. These were symptoms exactly the same as when I had my heart attack about a year ago. So, with chest pains and having collapsed Anna called an ambulance.
Having had to wait two hours for an ambulance when I had a heart attack last year, Anna this time asked if they knew how long it would be. They didn’t really want to tell her but she pushed for an answer and was told it would be at least 5 hours. 5 hours for an ambulance for a suspected heart attack – that’s not ideal and not really an ‘emergency service’ if you ask me. We therefore decided it was best to put me in the car and for Anna to drive me to A&E. I did tell her several times to drive carefully as I’m sure she was a little stressed and worried at this point.
At least we were ready this time with a bag of essentials for a hospital stay and were able to put our emergency plan into operation. I had an aspirin that was to hand exactly where we knew they would be, Anna grabbed the hospital bag and off we went. I also had a bowl and a towel on my lap as I was feeling pretty sick at the time too. It might have been an emergency but I’d rather not vomit all over the new car!
It took about 20 minutes to get to A&E and I was feeling a little better by then. Anna checked me in and we sat and waited. The waiting room was packed and people were being told that waits were about 4 hours. Some people had been there a lot longer than that. It was an hour or so before I got triaged by which time I was feeling a little more comfortable. I still had chest pains but that was all. They did the usual blood pressure, oxygen saturation, ECG and temperature and took some bloods then sat me back out in the waiting room for a few hours.
We did finally get fed up of waiting so asked how much longer it would be. They said I was next in line for the doctor. About 10 minutes later someone came to get us to explain what was happening. She also told us that she had ordered an additional blood test. I asked what this was and she said Troponin – I’d assumed that’s what they were testing in the first place as it’s the thing I would have tested for a suspected heart attack! We then waited around for a bit more for the results of the Troponin test. I was gradually feeling better all the time so felt quite happy to go home. Eventually after another ECG to compare with the first and the results of my Troponin levels (which were normal at 5ng/L) I was indeed able to go home. They did of course ask several times throughout the day about my low heart rate but seemed happy enough when I told them that was normal.
Not Cardiac Related
We’re not really sure what happened but according to the tests it didn’t look as though it was cardiac related this time. We’re assuming it was just a mixture of medication, GTN spray and muscular chest pains causing some anxiety. I felt a little silly going to A&E only to be told that it was nothing. However, the fact that I had a heart attack last year makes us a little more wary. That coupled with ongoing chest pains and then collapsing with exactly the same symptoms as the heart attack means that I think we did the right thing.
Better to get it checked out and be told it’s nothing than not do so and find out too late that it was indeed another heart attack. The only difference this time was that the symptoms improved quite quickly once I’d got over the initial collapse. That wasn’t the case with my heart attack as they just got worse until the clot was removed and the stents were inserted. That said, I do still have chest pains today so I’m not 100%. I therefore worked from home the next day and will taking things easy for a day or two. This isn’t quite how I planned to age, but I guess we don’t have a choice in such matters.