Venez m’aider!

As those of you who follow me on Twitter cannot have failed to notice, (I may have been a bit of a drama queen!), I’ve been less than perfectly healthy recently. I’ve been having trouble breathing, more specifically taking a full breath in. I’ve been bounced from doctor to nurse to x-ray to doctor to nurse to doctor then finally, on Friday night, to Accident and Emergency.

For the medically minded, these are the things that have been ruled out so far:

  1. Pneumothorax
  2. Pulmonary embolism
  3. Swine ‘flu
  4. Hayfever
  5. TB
  6. Chest infection
  7. Allergies
  8. Dry air
  9. Panic attacks
  10. Lab chemicals
  11. Asthma (actually ruled in, out and in again, pending tests)

A&E made me feel like a total fraud, as I felt perfectly fine. However, since my GP was worried about the possibility of a pulmonary embolism, I was treated like I was totally helpless! I had an ECG, chest x-ray and a blood test to measure D-dimer levels in the bloodstream. Thankfully, after 4 and a half hours, it was ruled out and I returned to my previous status of medical puzzle.

Spending Friday night in the Mayday Hospital*, surely one of the worst named hospitals in the country, was not part of the weekend plan. However, the staff were unfailingly polite and kind, and my doctor was excellent. The wait was tedious, and I was very glad I had a book with me, but everything was done efficiently, and since I came out the other end with no life threatening health conditions then I guess I should be thankful.

It was enlightening to get a glimpse of what frontline NHS staff have to deal with on a daily basis. The patient on the trolley opposite me obviously had alcohol problems and did not want to comply with any treatment. She had clearly had a fall and hit her head but insisted on trying to get up, on more than one occasion trying to pull her drip out of her hand. She also spent a lot of time trying to make herself sick and the sound of her gagging and retching echoed round the bays. The disruption she caused meant that a nurse had to sit with her at all times and the already busy staff had to compensate.

I cannot pretend to write as eloquently as the always brilliant Trauma Queen, so instead of offering any further opinion, I’ll point you in the direction of a few of his posts on this topic:

The stork brings babies, Santa brings presents…

The crowd turn to us and make Casualty comments, I tell them that Josh never gets puked on, nor does he stand up to find he’s been kneeling in pish. They wave my comments away, I’m part of the entertainment tonight, they’ve been called from their flats into the stair just as surely as if a ringmaster had hollered for them. The circus is in town and a clown is the main act.

Long hard look back.

We’ve done this dance before, maybe a dozen times. You’ll get to the bottom of the stairs and refuse to travel and we’ll walk you, staggering and slurring, back up to your flat. You tie your laces and I wait for you, address your cat by name, tickle her behind the ears.


He wasn’t quite a regular, but I knew his face. A few months ago we found him sitting on the pavement outside a children’s play park, reaching out with wobbling hands to steady himself on the smashed kerbstones. He was guttered, the smell of cider rolling off him in fetid clouds.

*Incidentally, I believe that the reason the Mayday was so named is because the phrase “Mayday Mayday Mayday” was thought up by Frederick Stanley Mockford, a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in 1923. Thank you Wikipedia!


4 responses to “Venez m’aider!

  1. Hey! Thanks for the ridiculous props – very kind of you – will add you to my reader. How are they getting on with a diagnosis?

    • No worries 🙂

      I’ve been put on a Ventolin inhaler on the basis that this is much quicker than waiting for a referral to the Chest Clinic. So far it doesn’t seem to be helping but the Doctor wants me to try it for a few weeks and see. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is partly so he gets some thinking time!

  2. Fucking Ventolin…I honestly don’t know how GPs get away with doing that. Why the hell would you prescribe a short-acting, acute medicine for “a couple of weeks”? It’ s not like it’ll fix the root cause.

    It’s like a surgeon giving you lots and lots of cotton wool “to sop up the blood” while they wait a fortnight to suture your wound.


    (I have an issue with this…can you tell?)

    • It could be worse. The A&E doctor suggested it moght be due to charged ions in the air from all the thunder there has been recently…

      And yes, I can tell you have an issue with this, and I think you’re quite right. It feels like a total cop out. Especially since it’s worse on one side than the other, which to me suggests not asthma. However, I’m not a doctor, just a humble microbiologist.

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