Do I need an ambulance? Well, yes, no, maybe. I still hold the record for being the only member of the family who has not been carted to hospital in a ambulance, and in some ways I regret not having the experience. But let me explain.
Last Friday night, as I lay in bed watching television, my heart went “berserk”. I could feel it pumping and behaving like I had a manic frog in my chest. I tested my pulse rate. Mmmm. Racing. Irregular.
I waited a while before leaving my bed to find my blood pressure machine. Blood pressure within normal limits. “Pulse error”. I tested it every few minutes and recorded it in my phone. The B/P machine also sounds the pulse – so I recorded the sounds. Scary. Missing beats. I phoned the Health Hotline and was told to go to hospital. I leapt out of bed, dressed quickly, packed a small back of things I might need.
Should I call an ambulance? It was midnight.
I envisaged an ambulance turning up with lights flashing, alerting all the neighbours to something going on in my house, waking some, and then endeavouring to transport me down the very sloping driveway.
I climbed into my car and without turning on my lights, quietly drove down the driveway into the street, turned the lights on, and set off to the hospital about 15 kms away, promising myself that I would stop, and dial 000 if I should feel unwell on the drive to the Caboolture Hospital.
At Beachmere, there had been an accident. I passed the police and ambulance with flashing lights attending an incident near the shopping centre. I kept going.
The roads were quiet and I passed few vehicles, arriving and parking in the “short term” carpark, before finding my way into the Emergency Department. I waited about 10 minutes as there was someone being assessed. She was the victim of domestic violence. A man had tried to kill her. I waited.
When it was my turn, I sat and gave my details with my finger in a pulse machine. Within seconds I was told to go to the door, push it and enter the ED. I was met on the other side by a nurse who rushed me to a cubicle, told me to put a white gown on. As I sat on the bed, a nurse came to me and asked further questions, and attached me to an ECG machine. Then it all went busy. People came and went, I was attached to another machine (assessing my pulse and blood pressure) an intravenous cannula was inserted, and IV fluids pumped into me.
Meanwhile, I could see and hear the events unfolding in the ED. It was a busy night. There had been a death, the police appeared, and people, nurses, doctors, ambos, police and other people rushed back and forth. Often pushing machines or people on stretchers.
I was asked at one stage how I came to hospital as there was no one with me. “I drove” I replied. A disapproving frown appeared on the face of my inquisitor. . “From Beachmere?” “Yes. ” Deeper frown. “Next time, get an ambulance!” The disapproving frown appeared on my face.
I did not feel unwell. I did not feel dizzy, there was no pain, and I felt fine. Just had a “jumpy” heart. The nurses found it hard to believe, but it was true. The “jumpy” heart persisted.
Other medication was inserted into my vein. Another drug was pushed into me with the intravenous fluid. I became friendly with the commode!! They pushed so much fluid into me, it had to get out somehow. It was not easy getting to the commode with all the tubes attached to me – and sometimes they would fall out and the monitor would scream.
The doctor came several times and explained my diagnosis and treatment plan. They might have to give me an electric shock to make my heart beat normally. I was to be admitted. No, I would not be going home. “My car is in the short term car park” I advised. “Don’t worry about that.” They advised.
By six am the night staff were preparing for their end of shift, and by 6.30 am the doctor appeared again, as it turned out, seconds after my heart beat returned to regular. He stood watching the machine for a few seconds, before announcing. “All’s well. You can go home. Do you have someone to take you home?”
“No, but my car is in the car park.” I was allowed to drive myself home, but with a slight look of disapproval by he who must be obeyed in the ED!
I was given a pack of papers for my GP. I could not give them the name of my GP – as the one I had recently attended had resigned. I knew no other GP in the practice. That I will have to change this week, as I must go for more advice, treatment etc.
I grabbed my things, the papers and after they had removed all the tubes from me, I left, still bearing the “scars” – little sticky bits all over me where the tubes were attached.
Sleep had not been possible at the hospital, so when I arrived home, I had a quick half breakfast and despite it being broad daylight, I slept for a few hours.
Later, I spoke to my neighbour. I wondered if she had heard me leave at midnight. I had planned to tell her that a rich, handsome man had contacted me online and offered me a night of glamour, debauchery, and fun, so I had left home at midnight to experience this wonderful offer. I started with the story, but she had not heard me go. We laughed and I had to tell her the truth.
Again more frowns, and disapproval that I didn’t call an ambulance, or call her.
Next time, if there is one, I promise I will call the ambulance.