Today has been a potential 'shit your pants' day. It started normally, continued normally and was even as normal as a normal thing when I was standing in reception being a shoe fascist. What happened over the next 15 minutes was to shape my entire day, quite unexpectedly...
At 8.43am, I was doing my paperwork, getting my day sorted and listening to Hammock. At 8.44am, I had what I and several other people at work thought was a heart attack! Yep, dead serious, no bullshit. I was doubled-up in pain, with a panicking student in front of me, thinking, "Oh dear, this doesn't feel good" - honest, that was as melodramatic as I could muster.
I didn't actually have any intention of even going and seeing the school nurse - as nice as she is - I took some Ibuprofen and told the student I was fine. But, she didn't believe me and, to be fair, probably with good reason as I started to struggle to take a deep breath. She said if I didn't go and see the nurse she was going to go and get my boss and tell him I was having a heart attack. So, I went and saw the bloody nurse...
The nurse seemed completely in agreement with the student and rang for an ambulance. I was sweaty, clammy, had pains in my chest and tingling in my extremities. I started to panic a little. A paramedic was positioned less than a mile away and he was with me inside 6 minutes, which was good. He had me strip off to the waist - probably causing palpitations for the female staff seeing me bare chested - and plugged me into his portable ECG machine. Several minutes later, he was sure that I hadn't had a heart attack, but he didn't look any happier, especially as I was still almost doubled up with a crippling pain all around my chest.
The ambulance arrived, I insisted on walking to it and eventually I was taken to A&E at NGH -probably one of my least favourite places in the world. I had another ECG, then about a pint of blood was taken from me and then I got shuffled off for a chest x-ray. The duty consultant told me that I would probably be kept in as a precaution and that sent my stress levels through the roof. I was not, in a month of Sundays, going to stay in that fucking hospital.
I then waited for over an hour and obviously during that hour I ran a gamut of emotions and fears - had they found cancer on my x-ray; did the blood tests come back with something serious; did I have, as was suggested, have pneumonia and if I did how come I didn't feel really really shitty? I'd just about convinced myself I was about to drop dead when the lovely Dr Green called me, gave me a listen to and told me what he'd seen on my chest x-ray...
"Mr Hall, you might feel better, but my guess is you've felt rough for a while, haven't you?"
"Well, I've had this pigging cold and cough since December 17th and the last week or so it's felt like it's been getting on top of me again, but I work in a Petri dish of disease, so after a while you just put up with feeling like shit."
"Well, this was a kind of early warning. You have a build-up of rubbish in the lower right lobe of your lungs; this sounds and looks like an infection, but a deep-rooted one that normal antibiotics have failed to completely shift. Left unchecked and something like this will develop into pneumonia or another serious lung infection. I'm going to give you a course of powerful antibiotics; you need to take it easy for a few days and if your chest still feels like it's being weighted down at the weekend, you need to get your GP for a repeat dose. We need to get rid of this infection before your body stops trying to fight it, which I think might have just started to happen." He took the cannula that had been inserted into my right arm out and a stream of blood splashed his already crumpled shirt. My stomach turned over and did a somersault.
So, here I am, at home, told to rest for three days at least. Told to try giving up smoking again (yes, that last valiant effort lasted less than 24 hours) and with my car at work. I feel pretty much okay, but the doctor actually said that I've probably grown accustomed to feeling shit and it's become the new normal for me. I have an elevated temperature and the right side of my lung is crackling like a pig on a spit and if I was to be honest, I do actually not feel right; but I've put that down to having a stressful and demanding job; something I'm not that used to after the last few years.
- I have discovered and then subjected my young charges to Hammock; a nerdy two-piece shoe-gaze cum post rock band with a back catalogue almost as big as The Fall's. They produce largely dreamy ambient wibbleness and while I've found it really good it has made my students ears bleed - so no bad thing there then.
- Elsewhere I have been listening Axess/Maxxess; Boards of Canada and Verve (not The Verve, but the first and greatest album when they were just Verve and didn't have to put a The in front to appease some Americans).
- I wrote another short story.
- In the next blog I will tell you about Amazon, my brother's latest obsession, raspberries, jelly baby porn and walruses.
- Magnetic sphincters.