Less than a week ago, I was fighting for my life. I was on the way to a conversation with St Peter or it may have been Osiris or one of the many gods of the afterlife. It all depends on your outlook on what happens once we discard this frail body of ours. It is in this sort of situation that our NHS comes into it’s own. As I moved in and out of consciousness I was aware of being surrounded by many people efficiently going about the business of saving my life.
The expertise and equipment are worth more than diamonds, all done with the sole purpose of saving the life of a stranger who will leave without a backward glance once the task is complete regardless of outcome. This is the reality of the life of those who work in the NHS. They rarely see the fruits of their labours, just moving on from one task to another, whether at the critical moment of saving a life or the longer term of of helping people on the road to recovery.
I have Atrial Fibrillation that has gone undiagnosed partly because of my procrastination in doing anything about the symptoms I was having, and partly due to the difficulties in getting some primary care. I had a strong idea of what it was, but had been trying to deal with it by adjusting lifestyle and diet. I had fully intended getting to the GP at sometime, but that is not an easy task in these days of too much to do with little time and resources in which to do it. Nevertheless, I have to acknowledge that I should have persisted in trying to see the GP.
I’d been having random bouts of difficulty in breathing but put it down mostly to my ever decreasing levels of fitness over the past couple of years and ever increasing weight. The balance scales were tipping the wrong way. I had thought my irregular pulse and breathlessness would settle once I could tip the scales back to where they were supposed to be. It was a risk I took that almost saw the end of me. When my breathing became difficult and wheezy, I did what had become a habit. Leaving the situation and letting it all settle naturally. Except it didn’t. My breathing became worse and I realised I was in serious trouble. Luckily my brother and his wife were nearby and I managed to get to them just before I lost conciousness. The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by paramedics. I greyed out again and woke in A+E.
Interested people can find many discussions and opinions about when is a person actually dead. Clinical death is defined as when the heart stops, actual death when the brain stops functioning. So, when they deliberately stopped my heart, it seems I was clinically dead albeit for a very short time. The electric shock applied then restarted my heart into a more normal rhythm. My lungs had become severely congested because my heart was in such a quivering state. It took a little time to clear my lungs so that I could absorb some oxygen. It’s all power to the aforementioned expertise and equipment that I’m able to write this post. Not that many years ago that I would have been having a discussion with whichever deity, or saint, was my destiny to meet on my way to eternity.
There were no flashing lights or tunnels or me looking down on myself. I only remember being uncaring about my loss of dignity as they cut my clothes off me exposing my doughy cellulite and secret places to the world. All I wanted was to be able to breathe. The pull to life is extrememly powerful. While I have a great deal to live for, I’ve often wondered at this pull in people when all hope is lost. Even in the end stages of disease, life and continuing to live becomes paramount importance. Not only in humans but in all organic life. Perhaps something to consider in another posting.
The upside of all this, is that I’m otherwise quite healthy. Not diabetic, no other issues detected and the meds they’ve put me on seem to be working as they should. in other words, it looks like I’ll be able to rebalance the fitness and weight scale in the next few months. So watch this space…