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Weird and wacky world of the weekend heart attack

  • heart atttack
Ever had a heart attack? It’s actually easier than you think. I had one on a beautiful summer morning one Sunday.
by LIONEL SLIER | Apr 18, 2019

I was driving my daughter to her friend when I felt this nagging pain in my right elbow. I thought if I ignored it, it would go away. That is the generally accepted way men deal with problems. It is a rule that I always follow.

I dropped my daughter off, and the pain persisted. I began to feel rather discomforted or “poorly” as my English dowager aunt used to say about her health.

The pain became worse. I contemplated driving straight to the casualty department, staggering in, dropping onto the floor, feebly raising my arm whilst emitting a small but hoarse squeak, “Help me!”

Unfortunately I had my dog in the car, and I didn’t know what the hospital would say if I asked them to admit the dog as well. It is only a small, 2kg pavement special with a pedigree as long as your fingernail.

So I drove home with the by now excruciating pain in my right elbow. I knew it could not be a heart attack, because I’d read somewhere that a heart attack was preceded by a pain on the left side or by a tightening in the chest. I had neither of these. I arrived home just as my wife was leaving to go out. “I’m having a heart attack,” I managed to whisper.

My wife didn’t panic. She’s not built that way. However she had heard that if a person has a heart attack, then one must force aspirin into that person’s mouth.

Of course there were no aspirins in the medicine cupboard. Now my wife panicked. Most unlike her. She went to the neighbours, and returned with a box of aspirins followed closely by the neighbour, looking suitably concerned.

The ambulance service was called. It said it would dispatch one, but it would take four hours. The neighbour knew of a private ambulance service, and she went home to call it.

Meanwhile, I was lying on my bed and everything was becoming more and more surreal. This couldn’t be happening to me, surely. After all, I used to play rugby at school. Okay, it was only Under 13.

The Hatzolah ambulance arrived fairly quickly because suddenly, a young girl and an equally young man dressed in uniforms and wearing badges that said something about medical rescue were at my bedside. But my dog wasn’t having any of it. It jumped onto the bed, then onto my chest, and starting barking hysterically at the orderlies, leaving them in no doubt that it would savage anyone who touched me. The male orderly put out his hand and said something that sounded like “nice doggie” and nearly lost a finger.

“Get rid of the dog!” my wife was shouting. The only one who could was me, so I grabbed it and staggered (again) from the bed, shuffled to the bathroom with the growling animal under my arm, threw the dog in, and closed the door. I was conscious of hearing rapid scratching noises against the door.

Back in bed, an oxygen mask was put over my nose, and an injection delivered somewhere in my nether regions.

The next thing I was in this ambulance careering through the streets, and I wondered why the siren wasn’t blaring. Surely I was entitled to the Full Monty. It was uncomfortable because every time the ambulance took a turn, I was nearly thrown off the stretcher. The female orderly kept comforting me by saying, “You’ll be alright, Oom.”

It was rather embarrassing at the hospital being rushed along on a stretcher with four people, one at each corner and a fifth racing along holding a drip over my head, going at break-neck speed along the corridor, bumping into a nurse coming out of a doorway and knocking her tray flying, and all the time a suitably ethnic doctor shouting and threatening to kick some serious butt.

Sorry, I’ve got it wrong. I was confusing it with a TV mini-series I had seen once, or else every TV show about hospitals. Invariably, the senior surgeon belongs to some minority group such as a one-legged, height-challenged, single mother Eskimo with attitude.

Actually what happened was that I found myself in a bed in a silent casualty ward. The doctor administered what could have been – or should have been – morphine and I started floating. I also felt fantastic. I wanted to get up, thank the doctor for his kindness and medical skills and for spending six years at university so that he would know exactly what to give me and where.

I suddenly felt ready to go home. There had been some sort of error, and I was sorry for all the trouble and inconvenience that I had caused all these nice people, but I should now be getting on my way. And could I have, in a bottle, some of that stuff that they had given me?

The doctor ignored me, and plunged another needle into my arm. Things became rather vague, distant and impersonal from then on. I remember being in an operating theatre with a huge bright light over me and a masked nurse, dressed in green operating garb. I joked weakly, “This is just like the cinema.” “Well I hope that you enjoy the show,” she answered pleasantly enough, probably hearing that comment daily.

A doctor arrived, greeted me, and said, “Hmm.” “How bad is hmm?” I asked him, but either he didn’t hear my question, or he chose to ignore it. I tried again, but I drifted off.

I awoke to find myself in a curtained-off bed. I stayed there five days and it was a pleasant rest. I was told later that I had a “myocardial infarction”. I asked the doctor to write it down for me. How could I have had that, I wondered, when I don’t even know how to spell it?

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