Scanned Before Breakfast…

scan

Ordinarily, on a Saturday morning at 6am I’d be all warm and cosy under a massive goose-feather duvet, enjoying a lie-in after working nine to five during the week, however, when your consultant physician schedules a CT scan of your lungs at 8am you have to drag yourself out of bed at the weekend no matter what. Fortunately I have very good friends, so I was lucky enough to get a lift despite the fact it was still dark when I left the house. At the radiology suite I was required to remove my top (something I seem to be doing rather a lot of these days) and change into an unflattering hospital gown in readiness for the procedure. Although I’d had MRIs before this was my first experience of a CT scanner, so I chose to treat this new experience as exciting rather than scary.

After confirming my date of birth I had to lie down on the machine with my arms raised above my head waiting for the lights and whirring to begin. An automated female voice then said “Breathe in and hold your breath” – around five seconds later I heard “You may breathe normally” which was a bit of a relief. The table, with me on it, moved back and forth and the breath-holding exercise was repeated twice more. Hard to describe the feeling other than diving through a doughnut shaped washing machine while flat on your back; surreal but not remotely painful, and all over with in less than five minutes. Once my innards had been thoroughly photographed I was free to leave – the results will be sent to my specialist and a follow-up appointment will be scheduled in due course if there’s anything of note to discuss.

I can’t help but feel very lucky to have access to such incredible medical technology, and wonder what marvellous diagnostic tools we’ll have at our disposal in the not too distant future. I love science!

Advertisements

Technology is a Wonderful Thing…

heart

Walking along a crowded street wearing a device with wires attached made me strangely aware of how dodgy it might appear to others, however it was all perfectly innocent as I’d just been to the hospital to get a 48 hour heart monitor fitted. My beats per minute rose a little when the penny dropped that I should probably quickly check to make sure I had no cables dangling from under my jumper, but thankfully everything was securely strapped to the waistband of my jeans. Wishing to avoid any unnecessary panic I chose to return straight home rather than risk setting off any shop alarms.

Fortunately this monitoring was taking place during a weekend, which avoided enduring a ‘show and tell’ session in the office. I must admit that while most of the time I managed to forget I was wearing it, trips to the bathroom were a little more complicated than usual due to having to untangle myself, but overall the whole thing went without any major hitches.

I now have to wait for my cardiologist to examine all of the data, and hopefully the results will provide him with everything he needs in order to make a decision about the next course of action regarding my ongoing valve issues. A few years ago this would’ve required a two-day stay in a hospital ward, but thankfully nowadays all of this can be done while you go about your daily business. Technology really is a wonderful thing…

A&E Wasn’t On My To Do List Today…

Accident and Emergency sign

I’ve known about my heart issues for a couple of years, and am used to the frequent palpitations, so when my ticker started feeling ‘unusual‘ at lunchtime I was a little concerned. I’m a firm believer in the adage ‘you know your own body’, and mine was decidedly not right, so when I also started feeling hot and cold and then giddy and faint I figured I needed to get myself seen asap.

Within 10 minutes I was getting into a taxi and 10 minutes after that I was in A&E, struggling to remember my address, shaking like a leaf and clearly looking like hell. All credit to the doctors and nurses at the hospital because I was fast-tracked through, having all manner of tests done until I finally conked out. Luckily, a nearby paramedic helped the nurse get me onto a trolley so I could be swiftly moved to a more appropriate examination area. Once hooked up to the machines I was eventually lucid enough to ring a friend, who spent the next 7 hours by my side.

After constant monitoring, endless blood pressure tests, an xray, and two extremely painful blood tests I was finally given the good news that I hadn’t had a heart attack and was given antibiotics for an infection before being allowed home. I’m very, very grateful to all of the doctors and nurses who, despite being busy, made sure that I was well looked after throughout. I’m also very thankful that I have such wonderful friends…

Good Friends…

friend

Unlike some, I may not be able to list more than a hundred names in my circle of friends, but I’m hugely grateful to have the small, but perfectly formed, group of people in my life who are always there whenever I’m in need.

After several weeks of enduring a persistent cough, and assuming that there was no reason to trouble the NHS because “It’s just a virus” and “There’s a lot of it about“; not to mention the fact that it’d be easier to get a date with Johnny Depp than a GP appointment these days; I found myself two days ago hardly able to breathe and feeling extremely unwell.

Despite it being late in the evening, my selfless chum came to pick me up, took me to the hospital walk-in centre, and then waited two and a half hours with me until I was finally examined, before returning me safely back home. As it turns out I needed antibiotics, so it really was necessary for me to seek medical assistance asap to avoid things turning nasty.

I’m a very lucky lady indeed and I’ll never take my mates for granted. I really do appreciate everything they do for me. Thank you…!

Some Good News…

heart

It’d been a whole year since I’d last seen my consultant cardiologist, and when I went for my follow-up appointment today for the results of my annual heart scan I fully expected a simple three minute consultation to say that nothing has changed and to return for my next scan as planned the following year. Luckily, a friend took me there and I have to admit it was good to have a bit of moral support. It’s not nice to sit in the cardiology department on your own for any length of time, surrounded by people who clearly have major medical woes.

After hanging around for what seemed an eternity I was eventually ushered into a small consulting room, where my consultant told me that the two iffy valves in my ticker (aortic and mitral) hadn’t got any worse, which is what I’d expected all along but was nice to actually get confirmation. The other positive news was he was now putting me on a new two-year programme, so no more annual scans and appointments – yay! They’re also setting up a one-stop heart clinic, so in the future I can get my scan done in one department and then pop along to see a cardiac nurse for the results the same day, which would be excellent. While I’m obviously thrilled to get such positive news, I’m not entirely sure why I couldn’t have simply been sent a letter with that information; no wonder the jolly old NHS is skint!

I’m Ready For My Close-Up…

heart

My phone rang this evening and it was the hospital cardio-respiratory dept (thought I was finished with all the heart stuff until next April). Basically, they have regular reviews and new quality control measures, that have recently been put in place, which means that they must now produce log books of important clinical results and findings.

Apparently, my heart scan was “so beautiful” and “such a fantastic example” (of two faulty valves to the left chamber) they would very much like me to go back up there for another scan next month, and use my images (anonymously) for their departmental logbook! They’ll pay for my transport and will also provide me with whatever I need on the day. Who knew I had such a photogenic insides?! It’ll be entertaining if they want topless shots showing the scanning process – ooo errrr!!

The Results Are In…

awards

After weeks of hell, not knowing whether the lumps I have on my neck are cancerous, or not; all the scans, xrays, blood tests, a rather challenging morning at the cancer clinic in the haematology department followed by day surgery for a biopsy, I finally have a diagnosis…. I DON’T have cancer (phew!) I DO have ‘reactive lymph nodes‘ that will need further investigation, but I can’t tell you how much weight has now been lifted off my shoulders. To top it off, I’ve just seen my cardiologist and although he confirmed my heart murmur there’s no immediate need to operate (another phew!!) I’ll need to have annual scans but that’s easy peasy.

I am a very lucky girl indeed, and it’s things like this that make you sit up and take notice; appreciate what you have and focus on living life to the full. Right, I must now book my travel insurance – España, aquí vengo…!

Should re-name this blog Life Begins at Fifty Three and a Little Bit…!