On Saturday morning I woke up just before 6 am with some chess pain, not a great amount but pain nonetheless. Over the next 2 hours the pain would get increasingly bad, but more concerning just before 8 am I experienced shortness of breath, pins and needles in my left arm (and soon my whole body) and I started sweating. To me this seemed like a possible heart attack even though I’m only 32. When this first started I tried to distract my body with hot showers & beds (this has worked in the past), but things kept getting worst.
Fully I decided to go to a medical clinic, and then I thought I needed help to get to one (I tried a friend and later my mother who was working in the city that day). At the last minute things got so bad I decided hospital was the only option, if my mother hadn’t been 1 minute from picking me up I would have called an ambulance. In reality I probably should have done this around 7 am just to be safe (even if at that time it only felt temporary I pay for my membership so I might as well use it – better to be safe). I got allocated to the Emergency department of the Melbourne Public Hospital at around 8.15 am. I was quickly losing my senses (probably from quick shallow breaths for last 15 minutes). I was really concerned. You see outside of getting vaccinations I hadn’t really seen a doctor for about 2 years and I’ve never been in a hospital as a patient.
How bad was I? I remember one of the nurses telling me that they needed to shave part of my chest (you should see it now patches here and there!) to be able to attach various cords for electro cardio graphs and other tests. I don’t remember them doing it however. They put 2 IVs into me, gave me heaps of drugs and took x-rays of my chest. Within 4 hours all symptoms but a dull chest pain had gone (and mostly I only had the pain when I breathed deeply). However within another hour I threw up (they have handy plastic bags). Over the next 4 days I would be subject to all kinds of tests, and for the first 2 days hooked up to machines in the cardio ward. Sleep is hard when you can’t move due to the electric cords and get woken up for the time for more tests. Late of Saturday it was looking more and more likely I didn’t have a cardio condition however the hospital takes no risks with patients with my symptoms. In the end it turns out I have a very good heart which is surprising given how I’ve treated my body, but a big relief. It also turned out I had been running a slight temperature (around 38.5 I think 35 is normal) which would peak and then return to normal.
The doctors and nurses asked me how long Id had this temperature but I didn’t even know I had one when they told me. Looking back its very probable I had this slight temperature since I’ve returned from overseas. On the Monday night they took some blood just for viral tests (Id given a lot of the past 3 days at that stage but not for this kind of test). The working theory is that I had being carry an infection since I got sick in China. Tests on Tuesday seemed to indicate my body had just fought off an infection but they couldn’t be sure exactly what type. They think it slightly enlarged my heart which caused the pain and shortness of breath and the drugs they gave me plus my own body finally being aware of the problem fought off the infection. I hope this is correct. Late on Tuesday I got released so I can instead be an outpatient. I feel very good actually but they want me to take a break until the end of the week to be sure. I still need to go back in obviously as well for more tests. While the hospital is fairly certain of what happened they can’t be 100% so I still go through other tests over the next few weeks to be sure (e.g. a tube down my throat to take pictures. I’m not looking forward to that one). On the whole I suppose I’m happy they aren’t taking any chances. As one of the nurses said I’ve getting a 100,000 kms check up.
What did I learn? That the nurses in the Victorian health system are outstanding, I stayed in emergency for 12 hours and got to watch them operate under pressure I couldn’t handle they deserve at least double what I get paid but I know they get less (this issue will have a strong influence on my vote along with the environment from now on). I should get a regular check up, I didn’t know I had a temperature but a doctor would have and I might have avoided this.
I have a very caring family (all of them visited me on the first day), good friends (sms & visits) and some very caring colleagues (I got some great reading material as gifts and an uplifting card). When things go wrong you learn a lot about yourself and others. I hope I’d be there for others as they have been there for me. I missed a chance to go to a dinner on Saturday with a friend that I’d been looking forward to since my trip ended, these things are now even more important to me. I’m happy to be home right now. It adds importance to my health kick (although it is great to know I have a strong heart). It was an experience that I’ll be thinking about for a while, I might not have had a heart attack but it felt like one (I had all the symptoms), I think this changes you. I still have time thank god to right the things I need to right in my life.