Monday, 20 March 2017

Matters of the Heart

Think of heart attacks and you picture someone clutching their chests and dropping to the floor, more often than not dead, probably influenced by watching the television. Believe me, it doesn’t always happen that way. Five weeks ago, my lovely husband had a heart attack. Normally very active, fairly physically fit, not particularly overweight, he came out of work with a feeling of discomfort in his chest. As he was driving home, he started to feel unwell and instead diverted to the nearby hospital. Within an hour he was in the resuscitation room wired up to all sorts of monitoring devices and I was on my way there, having been alerted by one of the nurses. Within a few hours he was being whisked to Sheffield Northern General Hospital in an ambulance with blue flashing lights and two paramedics in attendance, feeling, he said, ‘a complete fraud.’ Once there, he was whisked into an operating theatre and had a stent fitted to one of the coronary arteries.

I’m glad to say he’s recovering well and has just this week gone back to work, albeit on reduced hours, which I believe is normal practice. Best of all, he’s agreed to carry a mobile phone with him at all times, something I’ve wanted him to do for years. In a couple of weeks, he’s to start attending cardiac rehabilitation which should help with things like diet and exercise. But this experience has been a real shock to him. He’s gone from someone who ‘didn’t do sick’ and who refused to take tablets of any kind, beyond a couple of painkillers for a headache, to someone who’s now taking eight tablets a day. That will probably be for the rest of his life too.

But it’s been a real wake-up call for both of us, made us realise just how precious life is and how precarious our hold on it is. As a result of what’s happened, we’ve taken stock of how we lead our lives. He was one for going at jobs hell for leather, always trying to get ahead of himself. I’m pleased to report that he’s now pacing himself and actually having ‘a bit of a sit-down’ in between jobs. We’ve also gone low-fat in our diet wherever possible and trying to eat more vegetables and fruit. Will we be able to keep it up? At this stage, I don’t know.

The irony is that I’m waiting for a CT scan to see if my own coronary arteries are silting up. It’s just possible I may need a stent myself!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

#NHS Crisis - Not a political rant!

My local hospital - on a VERY quiet day!

I’ve fallen victim to the current NHS crisis in that the operation on my ankle, essential for improved mobility but not urgent, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to go ahead on Monday, 16th January but late last week, I received a call from the hospital with the news that, because of the lack of available beds, it could not go ahead. Ironically, the operation should have been a day-unit operation but, because of a slight heart problem, I have to stay in at least overnight. With no indication of any future date and because of a long recuperation period (up to 14 weeks in plaster), we cannot make any definite plans for the summer, nor can we book our holiday. We had hoped, with the operation carried out, I would have been well clear of a cast by late August when we planned to return to Jersey

Let me make it clear. This is not a political rant. I do not have any affiliation to any political party. Whatever the current state of the NHS is down to more than one factor, lack of funds being only one of them. We are an increasingly ageing, and longer-living, population whose needs are not being catered for because of previously mentioned funding and lack of foresight of previous and subsequent governments.

One phrase that irritates me beyond all else is ‘bed-blocking.’ It conjures up images of a cantankerous old man or woman sitting in a hospital bed with arms crossed and a mutinous look on their face, as if to say, ‘This is my bed and you’re not having it.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. Elderly people would love nothing better than to go home and sleep in their own beds. Unfortunately, this does not happen because there is no social care in place for them to be cared for, either in their own homes or in care homes. The crazy thing is that our local community hospital, which acts as in-between care before returning home, is threatened with closure!

Why has the running of care homes been passed into private ownership? Surely this should be the responsibility of the State, again, whichever political party is in power. Many of the privately owned care homes are teetering on the point of bankruptcy. What happens if they go bust? Will the State take up the slack? I doubt it. And relatives, through having to work to pay their way and care for their own families, are not often in a position to help.

We’re told that many people going to A&E departments do so because they can’t get an appointment at their local GP practice. Fortunately, I’ve never had trouble getting an emergency appointment at my local health centre though I’d have to wait up to a month to get a routine appointment. Now there is a suggestion that GP surgeries should open 7 days a week. How will this work when it’s an accepted fact many surgeries are short-staffed with fewer candidates are coming forward for GP training?

What’s going to happen? In a world that is increasingly uncertain, who knows? I certainly don’t.