So, my friends will know, that two days ago I had to go into hospital because I’d suffered something called SVT. The boy and I sat down to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics, even though he had to be up at 4am to go to Weymouth to de-rig a sound system down there from the Sailing. I of course have had the Olympics as a major part of my life for the past year, preparing for the workers of the village to arrive, and now, to be looking after them. We both worked the night of the Opening ceremony so we thought it would be nice to sit and watch the Closing together, relaxing on the sofa.
This was clearly too much excitement for my little heart to cope with!! I started having palpitations, nothing unusual, I’ve suffered from them for years, the first I remember having them is at the age of 12, I remember that my friends all thought it was crazy, but to me it was quite normal. I never really saw a doctor about it. It was only as I grew older friends told me I really ought to tell a doctor, I mentioned it in passing to a GP, who seemed to think it wasn’t really an issue because it had never caused a problem in my life before. When I fell pregnant, the midwife asked about any heart conditions, I mentioned that I get palpitations sometimes, but she also said it’s not an issue, but to keep an eye on them, and if it gets worse to let her know. So at 9pm I didn’t think there was too much of a problem, I tried a few tricks I’d read about online, holding my breath really hard, and generally trying to relax and breathe through it. Nothing worked. At 9:30 I started to become a little concerned, at 10 o clock, I was worried, my chest had started to hurt and I felt dizzy. I also needed to pee every 20 minutes, which was bizarre! It’s not like they were little pees, they were big pees, but then I felt dehydrated, and I started to get clammy. By this point the boy was worried too, I asked facebook, and a good friend told me to call NHS direct; they put me through to a nurse, who put me through to the emergency department. After about 30 minutes of phone calls, they told me an ambulance was on it’s way, and would be there soon.
When the ambulance arrived I felt silly
When they hooked me up to a heart monitor, my heart rate was 196. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be, but I knew that wasn’t very normal. They measured my blood pressure too, which I think was normal. Because of the nature of my ‘problem’ and because I’d felt dizzy, they strapped me to a chair and took me in the ambulance. Blue lights on. It’s not an experience I’d like to repeat!! The paramedics were great, especially the lady, I think her name was Naomi. She really helped try to distract me, she went to school with someone who’d won Olympic medals in Sailing. When we got to the hospital, we went in through the back entrance especially for ambulances, into resus, I got onto the bed, and they hooked me up to another heart monitor. I’d been hooked up in the ambulance the whole way and had my blood pressure tested again. The paramedic said that my heart rate had been 192 the whole way, ‘well it’s slowing down’ I thought. The boy had followed in his car, and arrived shortly after. He had a bag with a few things, including a toothbrush, we had a feeling I might be there for a while.
When he arrived, he told me he wasn’t working in the morning now, it was about half 11 and he was meant to be up at 4, so I was glad for his sake as well as mine. We spent about 3 hours in resus, they checked my blood pressure regularly, as well as doing ECG’s to check my heart, I suffered from something called SVT. I was permanently hooked to a machine that said my heart rate, it was constantly beeping. They tried a few ‘nervous system’ tricks, I had to blow in a syringe, that didn’t work. Then another doctor pushed on my belly (not too hard) and I had to try push up against him. That didn’t work. He didn’t want to do it more than once because of me being pregnant. I tried the syringe trick again a bit later and it still didn’t work. I think they were reluctant to give me any drugs because I’m pregnant, I was slightly reluctant about drugs for the same reason. A while later they came back and told me they were going to give me a drug, it slows the heart rhythm to a normal pace, and they had checked to make sure it was ok to give someone who is experiencing SVT in pregnancy. The doctor told me that I would feel really strange for a few seconds, and it might be a bit scary, but I should just try to relax through it, and breathe… That alone freaked me out. They came back with a syringe full of liquid, and attached it to the cannula, within a second I felt strange. My legs hurt, they felt really heavy, my vision went blurry, and I felt like I wanted to cry, I felt myself starting to panic, but I remembered the doctor saying to try to be calm and breathe, so I did. Then I came back to normality, I know it was only a few seconds, but it felt like longer!
I was admitted for observation
Because I’m pregnant I had to stay, even though the check on the baby proved it was normal, the heart rate was fine, and it was moving so much they had to keep moving the machine, but it made me high risk. Better to be safe than sorry I guess, but at 2:30 am, I really just wanted to get in my bed, snuggle up to my boy and sleep. I was moved to a ward just around the corner, and hooked up to another machine. I couldn’t sleep, my machine kept beeping, and there was one woman snoring, another one coughing her lungs up, and another snoring and farting etc. Not to mention doctors and nurses checking on me and checking my blood pressure etc, I was relieved when the lights came on. It was about 6am, I heard the doctor say to someone. I sat up in bed, tried to use my phone but the battery was dead. All I wanted was to text my boy and tell him to get here as soon as he was allowed, I just wanted to see him.
Waking up Opposite Michelle Heaton
The breakfast people came round, I had a cup of tea and a bowl of cornflakes, the milk was lukewarm, I wondered if it had ever seen a fridge. As I was slowly eating, it was obviously handover time in the ward, my curtains were opened, and I was being discussed by around 6 nurses. I felt like a zoo animal. They went around the whole ward, and when they got to the person opposite me (the only other person with the curtains closed around them), they opened the curtains and there was sat Michelle Heaton… I follow her on twitter and had seen she had been admitted to Watford General because of her heart. I never imagined she’d be sat opposite me. The other 4 women on the ward must have been at least 70, if not older. Of course it caused quite a stir, all the nurses wanted to chat to her.
The other 4 women in the ward clearly had no idea the other young woman in the middle bed was a celebrity. I felt a little sorry for her, it’s clearly a time of difficulty, having to be in hospital, away from your loved ones, with a heart problem at such a young age, with a small baby at home. One of the male nurses was staring at her constantly, I’m not sure if she noticed, but it freaked me out! It was like he came into the room just to watch her. I was trying my hardest to not look at her, but I was sitting directly opposite her with nothing but people watching to entertain me! She couldn’t even read a book without the nurses talking to her about it!! She gave up shortly after. She asked me about pregnancy, and we talked babies for a few minutes. She may be a celebrity, but at the end of the day, she’s a young woman, vulnerable, hooked up to a heart monitor. We shared glances when the lady to my right passed wind a few times, with a small giggle. Then the woman to her left asked to use the toilet, and said ‘it’s a big job’ so she didn’t want to use the commode!! We couldn’t help but look at each other and try to muffle our laughter. You have to love old people!! A small while later her husband came in, she’d asked if it was OK because he was looking after their baby, on his own, for the first time, and she’s teething!! She sat watching the door for over half an hour, willing for him to walk through it. As soon as they came, you could just tell how happy she was. She was amazing with her baby daughter, and you could see the delight on her face as she saw them. There was also the obvious motherly love, although she was hooked up to a heart monitor she was more bothered about how her baby had slept and if her nappy rash had calmed down.
Time seemed to pass slowly, everyone cooed at baby Faith… it made me slightly emotional, I could feel my baby moving, but I just wanted a hug from someone I love. Michelle’s husband was great too, he really comforted her, and even helped the elderly lady next to her (the one that had the ‘big job’ in the toilet earlier) get in touch with her relatives. When the cardiologist came round, it was about 10:30, the 3 doctors (one senior, 2 junior) discussed my ‘condition’, the senior cardiologist was full of information and the junior doctors listened eagerly, as did I, though I expect they understood more than I did! The cardiologist explained ways to try to trick the heart into beating normally, and also that I could carry pills around with me for the rest of my life that counteract the palpitations. Or I could have a procedure called Catheter Ablation. This is where they go in through the groin to the heart and destroy a part of your heart that causes the problems. The cardiologist finished with me and moved on to the next patient.
Wanting to break out of AAU
I looked at the clock and it was around 10:40, I was just waiting for my boy to turn up and hopefully break me out of there!! Michelle had just had her meeting with the Cardiologist, she looked really upset and had a small cry. Her husband comforted her, I felt sad for her again, I knew she was desperate to get out of hospital, who wouldn’t be?! She was told she had to have a monitor fitted to figure out what’s wrong with her heart, but she didn’t know what time she would be leaving. I think she must have talked them into letting her go early, as from all I heard they sounded very reluctant. Sometimes the best way to rest is at home with your family around you though, and sometimes that is exactly what you need, especially if you are on a ward with all those noises at night. I can’t imagine I’d cope for more than one day! Meanwhile, Robin had arrived, I explained all that had happened, and he held my hand as we sit there waiting, he fell asleep, having barely slept and then gone to work for a few hours, he was about as shattered as I was. As I left, I said goodbye to Michelle, she wished me luck with my pregnancy, I said I hope everything goes ok for her…and I genuinely mean it. It’s not often you meet someone of ‘fame’ (despite having actually met quite a few while working in various hotels), she seems genuine and ‘nice’, and her family is clearly the centre of her world. Today I read a tweet from her, that she has been going through other health problems, having discovered she has the cancer gene, and what the next steps and options are… I can’t imagine how tough her week has been, and how difficult the next few months will be. What I do know, is that her family and her husband will help her get through it. It’s amazing the strength we find in our partners, and how they can help so much without really doing anything except being there.