Monday, June 12, 2006

Sick notes

It's almost worth my current debilitated state to be able to have a sickie on a Monday. In short, I was woken by the painful twanging of every muscle in my lower torso and legs, weak as water and with stomach cramps. Good enough for me. Too sick for work, not for blogging.

Shortly I shall journey to my doctor's magnificently dilapidated Victorian mansion beside the sea. My doctor is an unusual representative of the medical profession: conducts his surgery (mostly impoverished fishermen and other deprived people) with a fag between his lips, and often just gives medicine away from his cabinet of samples. He's a well known poet and a commentator on architecture in his real life, not to mention a dab hand at the violin. His home is a museum of art treasures and antiques, and his sustenance is spent on horn gramophones and 78 shellacs of operatic music. He is a qualified psychiatrist of the Jungian bent, and gives his services at a rundown state hospital. There aren't many doctors like this left.

There is no NHS here, and my experience of Britain's (although I think it a Good Thing) was somewhat mixed. When my regular GP retired, his practice fell into the hands of a band of female doctors with some kind of agenda. They weren't keen on treating members of the male persuasion, seemingly regarding us as an unwanted inheritance. When my double pneumonia was dismissed as flu until it was too late (I ended up with pleurisy), I began to sense this agenda might just be injurious to my health. I found a new GP who was thoughtful and caring, but was unfortunately misdiagnosed as having a hiatus hernia when in fact I was suffering from angina. My heart attack took place, rather satisfyingly, at my desk, making my employers feel rather guilty. After a spell in hospital I was pronounced OK, but as it turned out, I wasn't. Found myself on an emergency ward bed with a panicking consultant at my side (she'd sent me away).

The triple bypass at Barts treated me to the NHS at its best. A crack surgeon who did a first-class zipper, sympathetic nurses, tremendous op aftercare, including a physiotherapist. The last consultant I saw before setting out on my own, armed with a fitness programme, was a Russian. "David," he pronounced, "your arteries are in better than new situation." And they're still letting me run up hills without a murmur of complaint, 15 years later.

Now I must hobble off to Doctor Phil (yes, really).

4 Comments:

Blogger Wyndham said...

Good grief, you make it sound like a triple bypass is the thing to have.

2:26 PM  
Blogger patroclus said...

Hope this doesn't sound too much like morbid curiosity, but what did the heart attack feel like? I assume I'm going to have one one day, and it'll be good to be mentally prepared for it.

5:50 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

My dear Patro, why on earth should you have a heart attack? Heaven forfend. As to what it feels like: did you ever see one of those circus acts where the chap has bricks piled on his chest and two women in sequined swimsuits then stand on the bricks? I haven't experienced that, but I'd guess it would be analogous. It's exactly like a crushing weight in the centre of the chest that gets heavier and heavier until the paramedics arrive with the oxygen bottle. I was lucky in that Bart's was nearby and they had the clotbusting drugs into my system within 20 mins.

Wyndham, a triple bypass is definitely the thing to have if you have more than one clogged artery and a strong heart. The new tubes last a lifetime if looked after carefully. I have a strict aerobic exercise routine (daily) and am fitter than I was at 40.

Other methods, like the stent, a little balloon they pump up inside the artery, are much less invasive - if you don't mind a needle and line being thrust up through your groin into the artery - but they have to be repeated every few years and there is a risk of stroke each time if a clot should take it in its head to fly up through the carotid artery.

Blimey, maybe I should blog on my lifetime of medical mishaps. God knows I have had plenty of them. All me own fault ...

6:54 PM  
Blogger First Nations said...

your present doctor sounds like a little slice of heaven.
although my present doctor, god love him, will refill ANYTHING for the asking. not that i do ask, but its nice to know.

7:24 PM  

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