I've been feeling grotty since last Friday -a weird clutching feeling in my chest coupled with a lack of circulation in my left and right arms. The latter isn't so new; I've always had poor circulation - however, the former was worrying me. So much, in fact, that I packed up the fags and waited over the weekend to see if the feeling got any better.
This morning the same dull pain was there, but I went to work regardless - the intention being I'd go home if it got too bad and make my way to the NHS drop-in centre in Coventry.
At around eleven o'clock though it got really bad. So bad in fact, that I had to ask somebody to ring an ambulance for me. As I was asking for this, I staggered and nearly collapsed. Somebody sat me down and the ambulance turned up within minutes.
The paramedics lay me down and after asking the usual questions about my allergies to treatments (none), any ongoing medical problems (none) gave me some Aspirin and some spray under my tongue to thin my blood. She confirmed that my blood pressure was way too high and rang ahead to University Hospital in Coventry to get them to prepare for me as a precautionary measure. They injected me with something on the way to prevent anxiety - I was shaking so much as I was absolutely terrified; My breathing was short and my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest - I genuinely thought that every breath would be my last. I can't remember ever being as scared.
I was rushed into Cardio where they stuck me on an ECG and took some blood samples. Tara works at the hospital so came and met me shortly after touchdown. After speaking to a very pleasant cardio doctor called Steve, he verified that he didn't think I was having a heart attack but was concerned as to why I was feeling the clutching pain in my chest. They moved my trolley off to another room where a few doctors came in and asked me some questions (basically verifying what I already knew; that I smoke and drink too much) and took a proper full blood sample. A senior doctor said the worrying thing; That they didn't think it was heart related but needed to establish that it wasn't one of a myriad of horrible other things wrong with my liver, pancreas, kidneys, lungs, etc.
I was rushed into X-ray - a process that took mere seconds - and returned to my bed.
The next hour or so was horrible. I was dreading a doctor walking back in with an anxious expression, pulling the curtains across and telling me the worst. I've punished my small frame enough over the past 38 years for bad news not to be entirely unexpected.
But the news was good; Both blood test and X ray were clear - my organs appear to be functioning at full capacity without anu problems. I was discharged and just told to take painkillers for the chest pain and rest up for a few days; whatever it is should just pass, I've been told - and if it doesn't, I just need to see my GP. What felt like a heart attack was probably just a panic attack; I've never had one before, so have no idea what they should feel like.
So, now I'm back home - dosed up with Anadin and waiting for this chest pain to pass. I'm aware that this blog entry seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill ("individual wastes the time of the NHS thinking he's having a heart attack") but it's my bloody blog and I'll feel sorry for myself all I want. And I got to ride in an ambulance with the sirens blazing, albeit not in a way I'd really recommend to anybody.