I’m glad you’re here. I want to tell you a bit of news.
Almost two weeks ago, my GP sent me off for some tests, after I went to see her complaining of increasing shortness of breath. She mmmm-ed in a concerned way as she listened to my chest, and that mmmm confirmed to me what I knew instinctively – something wasn’t right.
Things had gotten to the point where getting through the supermarket checkout, walking back to the car and loading the groceries left me panting, and getting dressed left me breathless. I was avoiding seeing people if it meant any level of physical exertion, and even waking up in the night, coughing and short of breath. That’s not normal for a girl of any size.
Before that day was over, I was packing a bag and heading for the emergency department of the local public hospital, at my doctor’s behest.
I spent a total of seven hours in the most uncomfortable chairs in the world. (Seriously, those chairs sucked, hard. Someone call the OH&S team.)
After surviving the chairs, I spent another seven hours in a bed in emergency, and was then admitted to the cardiac care unit. There’s a clue.
I don’t mind telling you, there were a few tears that Friday morning. Once I’d run the gauntlet of the emergency department, and adrenaline turned to tiredness, there was time to contemplate the words of the various doctors I’d seen over the past 14 hours. Heart failure. Gulp.
Once I’d levelled up to a bed in the emergency department, the young doctor pulling the night shift asked me if I had any questions for her.
Just one – is this going to kill me? I like to cut to the chase.
She said no, not in an entirely convincing manner, bless her, but it was well into the wee small hours by then. I think the directness of my question surprised her a little.
Heart failure is a terrible name for an illness, don’t you think? I know I do. It’s a scary one too.
All up I spent five nights in hospital, and have nothing but praise for the level of care I received. Nurses are incredible. Doctors too. I don’t know how they do what they do, but I’m bloody grateful for their expertise and compassion. Even the food was passable. I felt better than I had in months, within a day or two.
I had a long chat with my GP today, and though I still feel like my head is swimming with new information, and we don’t have all the answers yet, I do feel like I can get my head around it all, incrementally. It’s a whole new world, but I can adapt to it. Goodbye potato chips, hello apples. I’m even thinking about buying a bread maker.
I’ve been resting, reading food labels and googling like nobody’s business – but steering well clear of the “cure yourself with lemons” brigade. I’ll take my advice from reputable scientific sources, thanks.
There’s a plan coming together, and I feel very, VERY lucky to have access to the level of expert care and assistance that I do. I even went back to work today, which was great in its ordinariness, if a bit tiring.
My pump may be a bit fucked, but it’s not over yet.