The First Day
Luckily, we left in plenty of time to reach the hospital. Just as well, as it turned out, for when we arrived there were queues of cars on all the roads approaching the main gates.
We joined the queue and fifteen minutes late, crawled through the gates to find road works, traffic cones and red barriers all along the road that lead to the car parks.
This is when Anita began to panic.
She had been relatively calm in the car up until this point, even though I knew she was hating every minute, the closer we got to the hospital. Clearly upset, and probably taking this as a bad omen, she demanded to be taken home. A request we tried to ignore. At our peril, I might add, but the moment seemed to pass, and we were safe.
Finding a place to park was a nightmare and fraught with visions of another meltdown, so when we spotted one, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Anita was called promptly at her allotted appointment time, and the procedure revealed no clots in her heart whatsoever. A year ago this month, there was a massive clot in her left ventricle and now it had gone! This was such great news, but why was Anita still so breathless?
On returning home we were all completely shattered and turned in early, just to be better equipped for another day at the hospital tomorrow.
We left even earlier for the appointment just in case the situation at the hospital had deteriorated even further, and of course, we arrived far too early. We didn’t fancy leaving Anita in Outpatients on her own for longer than necessary. We couldn’t be with her (covid precautions still in operation), so we all sat in the hospital lobby, a very pleasant waiting area and twiddled our thumbs. I mean, what do you talk about on these occasions?
Anita seemed more relaxed today, even though this test was more important and complicated. Yesterdays test was to see her heart working and this one was to check all her arteries using a dye. The possibility of a stent being needed has been mentioned.
This was where todays nightmare began.
They couldn’t they find any veins in Anita’s arms! At this point, I was in the waiting room, (one person allowed today, and only if they didn’t need the chair) and Anita kept appearing in her hospital nightie, waving, as yet another attempt failed! When they finally found one, using some new-fangled machine, we all felt like cheering. Me mainly, because Anita was taking all of this so well and even looked as though she was enjoying it.
This doctor wasn’t as forthcoming as yesterdays, all he said at the end of the procedure was that he had managed to obtain good clear images and they would be sent to the consultant for analysis.
More blooming waiting!
After the longest four days, we arrived to collect a pale and fragile Anita from a bench outside the hospital. She could barely walk and still seemed to be in so much pain, even though the terrible breathlessness had gone.
We knew they would have liked to keep her for a few more days but Anita insisted on coming home. And as number one son said, the antibiotics can work just as well on our couch, and he had a point although I did wonder if it was too soon to come home.
On those first days home, Anita was far from well, not comfortable, had no appetite and had trouble drinking anything but the dreadful paleness had gone, and she looked a little better.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT VERDICT.
We finally managed, over the phone, to prise some proper information from the hospital doctor, and it wasn’t good.
The pneumonia was caused by a bacterial infection in Anita’s lungs, resulting in fluid around her heart. The pain came from a clot they think originated in her heart.
Her heart is still irreparably damaged from last year’s attack and in their opinion, cannot hope to perform well enough to stop this happening again, but they have adjusted her meds to help improve the situation.
The communication has been bad this time, with so much conflicting information. To be honest, sometimes I think they don’t understand how she is still here. At one point I thought they were merely keeping her comfortable.
But… and this cheered us all up … the doctor did say that Anita’s heart is unbelievably strong, even though only half of it is working. Apparently, the half that is working is doing a wonderful job.
We were not surprised by this as we all know about Anita’s legendary determination…
Myself and the rest of the family are deeply grateful for all your wonderful messages of hope and caring, and especially all of the hugs!
I feel like a shooting star
A bullet from a gun
The moment she walked by
Time froze, I could not speak
It’s no wonder Venus de Milo
Lost her arms, shocked at beauty
Far greater than her own
How could I, a mere mortal compete
Dare to hope she would look at me
Undo time from its frozen hold
Let me speak,
my worth will steal her heart
There is another,
whose silver tongue spoke first
I swear that she will never belong
To one who steals her from me…
© anita dawes 2020
Life in the Dawes household is on a knife edge now, as the date for Anita’s next and hopefully successful visit to the hospital draws ever nearer.
They plan to be fitting Anita with a pacemaker/defibrillator on Wednesday next week to persuade her poor old heart to start behaving normally. In preparation, we have been bombarded with a cart load of instructions, safety checks and medication updates.
There is so much to remember, and even more information that we really didn’t need, but you know doctors, they must tell you everything, including, in great detail, everything that could go wrong.
Me personally, I like to know what might happen to me, even the bad stuff, but Anita would rather not dwell on that side if things. She hasn’t said as much, but I know she would rather carry on as she is, even with all the breathlessness and fatigue, than walk into that hospital again. If we do get her there, she will be doing it for us, her family and not for herself.
So when the consultant began to describe, in detail, about how he would be feeding several wires through her veins into and around her heart, and that she would be awake while this was all going on, I could clearly see her having second thoughts.
He then made a tricky moment even worse by rattling off everything bad that could happen while she was on the table. Anita didn’t need him to describe everything she would hear and feel either. I could tell by her face that she desperately wanted to tell him she had changed her mind.
Apart from childbirth some fifty years ago and a broken leg a while back, Anita hasn’t had much to do with doctors and hospitals. Just by osmosis through me and all my many medical problems. For sisters, we couldn’t be more different, even though we look alike…
So, understandably, she is becoming extremely nervous and hating every minute. It wouldn’t take much to have her making for the hills!
These next few days will be an extreme test of everyone’s patience, tact, and diplomacy as we all try to convince ourselves and each other that everything will be fine. Anita will have a Covid test on Sunday and be confined to barracks until the day we leave for the hospital…
I have been wanting to write this post for ages, as I hoped to have good news to share about Anita’s poor old ticker. I seem to be complaining about everything, but we are so grateful for the care and support she has received from the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. and do appreciate how difficult it must be.
After 10 weeks of recovery, we have no clear idea of how she really is, medically speaking, although she does look a lot better these days and seems more like her old self. The breathlessness is easing a little, so using the stairs is less of a worry, and although we have had no news yet, the cardiac failure nurse has visited twice, and she says Anita is doing very well.
We are not however, totally convinced.
We really need to know what the recent MRI showed, the extent of the damage and/or how much it has recovered, for then we could possibly relax a little. (or maybe not!)
A letter arrived from the hospital yesterday with an appointment for a contrast echocardiogram next week.
Something else we will have to wait forever for a result, I suppose…
Seven years ago, when I had my heart attack, I was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night. The ambulance crew ran the tests on the way, and when I arrived at the hospital, I was taken straight to the Cath Lab, where a stent was fitted in the failing artery.
I went home the following day, as right as ninepence…
I know most of the family were expecting something similar when Anita collapsed and was diagnosed with heart failure last week.
Unfortunately, she was not so lucky.
This past week has been upsetting, confusing and frustrated us all to hell and back. Due mainly to the restricted access to information because of Covid 19. We couldn’t visit Anita, and the doctors are so busy, nailing one of them down for a detailed explanation was well nigh impossible. We had to gradually piece together all the scraps of information until we had a clearer picture, but the result of our detective work was heart breaking. Ours that is…
Not only did Anita have a nasty chest infection, and a build up of fluid on her lungs, but her heart was so severely damaged that any treatment apart from medication would probably have killed her.
So we, and the doctors played a waiting game for most of the week, adjusting her medication repeatedly until she began to respond. Anita didn’t become stable (don’t you just love that expression?) until late on Thursday.
And this is where the confusion started again in earnest. They began talking about Anita coming home over the weekend. But how could she come home without any treatment for her damaged ticker?
It wasn’t until we became first class pests that we learned of their plan.
Because of Covid 19 and the incredible workload at the hospital, and taking into account Anita’s increasing cabin fever, it was decided to allow her to come home to continue to recover until she was well enough for an MRI to assess the extent of the damage to her heart. Only then would they know how to treat it.
So, as of late Saturday afternoon, we collected Anita and became official carers. Armed with a pharmacy of pills, a strict regime, and orders to make sure she rested, we knew it was down to us to keep her going…
But I am sure that all your good wishes, hugs and healing prayers played a huge part in getting Anita this far, and we (the whole Dawes family) thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!
For visually challenged writers, the image shows an old wooden door framed by ancient stone, with an ornate key inserted in a rusted, heart-shaped lock.
Dare to Touch
In a dungeon, deep beneath the castle
Lies a door with a heart shaped lock
A quarter piece missing.
This had me intrigued
Are we allowed to enter to
find the missing quarter?
Legend has it that to find it
touch it, to hear the heartbeat
You leave a quarter piece
of your own heart behind
to make new ones
for those who are in need.
Something about the legend speaks to me
I heard the familiar beat
so I dared to touch the beating heart.
The secret is, there is no secret
The legend spells it out.
Would you touch the beating heart?
Leave a part of yourself behind
In some forgotten time and space?