When the doctor mentioned the possibility of a pacemaker. I was shocked into silence.
I had made an appointment to see the doctor because the palpitations I usually experienced from the effects of arrythmia had become stronger, my legs ached, my back ached and I was getting concerned.
So I asked the doctor if she could check me out in some way. She said an ECG would be the first step. The results showed I had a two second pause between some heartbeats and she told me to go straight to the A&E for a check up. She wrote a letter to take with me.
To say my husband was startled when I told him we were to go straight to the hospital is an understatement – I thought it wisest not to mention the possible pacemaker.
I was admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit and joined three other women with varying heart conditions. Janet was overweight with a family history of heart disease, but that didn’t stop her eating cream cakes and crisps that her friends and family brought her. A subsequent angiogram showed she needed a triple bypass and was duly shipped off to Harefield.
Sheila had an inherited genetic heart condition and was in increasingly greater pain as the days passed. She was still waiting to go to Harefield after three weeks.
Joyce had a dangerous clot and found to have too high a level of cholesterol and was down for a pacemaker but she discharged herself as unable to face the surgery.
Susan was brought in with a suspected heart attack, had a bad night in the ward with an asthma attack and a chronic migraine. She was taken to Harefield that morning.
And me? Well after three days of blood tests – one result showed I had a magnesium deficiency and I had a transfusion which had an immediate positive effect. I had my computer with me and looking up the symptoms of magnesium deficiency saw that the symptoms were very similar to heart disturbance – palpitations, aching muscles … However, as they were still concerned I was transferred to a ward in a holding to wait for an angiogram.
The ward was populated by geriatrics. I’m 68 and I was the youngest patient. I have to say several younger patients were admitted a few days later, but they didn’t stay long. I had a five day wait before an angiogram could be arranged.
For those five days I experienced a different world. Most of our time was organised by hospital routines. My fellow inmates were a forlorn crowd.
Mary, born 1927, in the bed opposite me, was massive, diabetic, constantly eating goodies her son and daughter brought her. Disliked most of the food on the menu, at least she said she disliked them but I discovered she had never eaten pizza, spaghetti bolognaise, or lasagne, but actively disliked them. Used to having carers visiting her twice a day she had become virtually inactive. She could not walk, was doubly incontinent, constantly wanted the commode, and needed, she said, her bottom wiped which one orderly refused to do, saying We don’t do that kind of thing, you must help yourself.
Mary was constantly at war with the staff, dropping much of food on the floor, needing her incontinence pads changing, From what she told me she had had a dispiriting life with no ambition or incentive to strive for much. At 83 she didn’t have much to look forward to I guess.
Referred to as Ethel by the staff, my fellow patient on my left was constantly telling the staff that her name was Mary. On getting to know her, she was a 90 year old with a strong will to live. She had practised hatha yoga most of her adult life although she no longer had sufficient strength to continue. She did however practise tai chi sitting up in bed which kept us amused, she inspired Mary opposite to try it! We must have looked funny sitting up waving our arms about with very serious faces!
Gwendoline in the corner was not at all well and we were all concerned that she was not allowed anything at all to drink or eat for several days. Her pleadings for water were increasingly hard to bear.
Then in the room opposite a woman who was in constant pain called out day and night for her daddy, her lovely George, or her mother. It was hard to bear too and we were relieved when her door was closed when medical care was administered.
Visitors in the general ward fluctuated for each patient, from one a day to about ten twice a day. Some visits were very amusing. When confined to bed for long periods of time there are things you need to be done for you that aren’t expected to be done by nurses or ward assistants. The main one concerns teeth, or at least the replacement, false teeth. These need frequent brushing and it falls to the visitors to sort this out. I noticed it was more frequently performed by sons and husbands. The women were more likely to feed the patients.
Sleeping at night was difficult to achieve. Lights were dimmed by 9 pm after final drugs were administered and blood pressures taken. After a day or so I got used to the earliness. But I had to draw the curtains round the bed to reduce the light level and put in ear plugs to deaden the sound of snoring, calling out, buzzers, and one night a nurse who ignored the footwear requirements and tapped his way round the ward in his hard soled shoes. Another night one patient had a five hour conversation with an imaginary companion.
We were woken at 6.00 am for breakfast. I was surprised the choice was white bread, margarine, jam, high sugar and salt cereal. None of which are generally considered to be good quality food. My husband brought in oatcakes, fresh juice, hardboiled eggs, low fat yogurt and green tea bags to keep me going.
I have to say the bed was fab. Endlessly adjustable using a little control pad, it could support you sitting up at any angle, support your legs at the knees, and could go quite low and quite high. One adventurous lady put hers so high, at least 5 foot off the ground, that she was in danger of falling off in fright! About six nurses came running in to help.
My laptop kept me sane. I managed to do a fair amount of writing and could access the internet on a different floor so at least I kept on top of my emails. I managed to review several dvds and more than a few books.
Many patients were suffering from mental ailments and really didn’t know where they were or what they were doing. I have to admire the patience and understanding of all the staff who were unfailingly kind and supportive.
After nine days of waiting I finally had the angiogram which showed my arteries to be completely clear of obstacles. I was given a clean bill of health.
So was nine days too long to be in hospital? Well I found out that occasionally permission is given to patients to go home for the day and come back at night. This ensures you stay on the inpatient schedule for treatment. If I had gone home and waited for an outpatient appointment I would have had to wait for up to 3 months. In the event I was not given the option and settled in for the duration.
My stay may seem excessive, but the positive outcomes were
- A magnesium deficiency was sorted out
- I know my cholesterol count needs attention – LDL 1.9 which is good, but HDL at 4 needs to be reduced, preferably through nutritional adjustments, so reduce animal fat intake to begin with and ask for another blood test in say 3 months’ time.
- My arteries are clear so no need for stents, or a bypass
I was advised to consider taking Warfarin to reduce the possibility of bloodclots as a result of the worsening arrhythmia. However as I have had a brain haemorrhage Warfarin may trigger another. So there is a dilemma to be resolved, or not.
Kate Campbell, contributing author
The wine just slipped down so easily, no sharpness, clear white wine that we drank all afternoon. It was so good, and reminded me of hot sunny days in France, in the countryside, where I spent so many summers, so many years ago.
I bought it by chance from Virgin Wines when they had a week of specials and I splashed out on the Pinot Grigio, four bottles from the Piedmont area in Italy, four bottles from South Africa and four bottles from d’Arcana in Italy. They are so good I have decided to buy another case!
I also bought some Can Rafols 2001. Made with great care using no chemicals whatsover, this Spanish wine compares well with classic bordeaux and at £9.99 a bottle it has to be the best bargain going! In fact the six bottle cases sold out quickly. There were still some twelve bottle cases on the website when I looked today, have a look to see if there are any still available. We have until 2021 to drink it at its best! We can really spread it out – that would be roughly a bottle to celebrate every six months! – with fillet steak, sautéd onion, boiled new potatoes. Oh bliss!
There are still some cases of 2009 Bordeaux vintage wines, three bottles of four wines. Am tempted to buy some to put to one side … Yes, I’ll go for it! Good health!
Val Reynolds Brown, Editor
The Chelsea Flower Show is always an exciting and fascinating experience and now with the emphasis on environmental concern this year’s event will highlight the many ways we can take more care of and care for our gardens and open spaces, especially in view of the ongoing drought.
Some of the trends and concerns of the general public include moving to non-powered lawn mowers and planting specifically to encourage wildlife and there will be much to see and take inspiration from this year. Many garden designers have chosen the environment and the responsibility of garden owners to help protect our green spaces.
Anyway, all being well I’ll be there on Press Day when I get to meet and interview some of the celebs who usually attend. Some are really approachable, Gloria Hunniford is always good for a quote, Ringo is usually so popular I don’t get to speak to him, Kim Wilde has always been helpful. Some are not friendly at all, surprisingly I’ve been given the brush off by Chris Tarrant and Martin Clunes. And yet one of the most friendly and surprisingly knowledgeable was David Spinks who played Keith Miller in East Enders.
Dairmuid Gavin is always willing to talk gardening and good for a laugh and joke.
The one celeb who is always aloof and not at all approachable is the great man himself Alan Titchmarsh, he has purposefully looked the other way whenever I have tried to take his photograph, not sure why, never been able to ask him! Maybe this year I’ll be luckier.
Press Day is a bit a slog really, we are admitted to the showground really early, it used to be 5 am, these days it’s a bit later. We have to leave by 3 pm when the Queen arrives for her personal visit, by which time I’m just about keeping upright … not the wine … just sheer exhaustion from being on my feet for ten hours without a break!
Many of you of course will be able to follow the show on BBC tv and will get a better view of many features than the visitors on foot! There is so much to see that I always seem to miss something really interesting – I get to catch up in tv programmes in the week. Even better, I’ll be able to go to BBC iPlayer for those programmes I missed, what joy! I never could fathom the CD and the DVD recorders, now I don’t have to worry, all can be viewed on my laptop, when I like and for free!
Val Reynolds Brown, Editor
By the way www.ourfrontgarden.com is the website we write about the ongoing renovation and care of a front garden in a garden city
The winners of the Owl Energy Monitor were:
S Collinge, Blackpool
S Purser, Stoney Stanton
Sharon Wallis, Prestwich
To enter our giveaway draws be sure to subscribe – see below – so you know when and what is on offer.
Do these findings line up with your family experience?
Three quarters of all important family decisions are now made by women, a study found:
- Women decide what a couple eats
- Where they live
- When they have children
- Where they go on holiday
- How to spend their money
By contrast men are only involved in decisions about what car a couple buys.
Women are also responsible for 85 per cent of day to day family decisions from
- what they do with their spare time
- what they eat for dinner
- what time they go to bed
- and even how high they have the heating
The research on behalf of Ginsters, which has just launched a series of new TV adverts entitled ‘We need to talk … about Ginsters’, consulted 3,000 couples anonymously about their relationships and who took the most responsibility for family decision making.
Larry File, a spokesperson at Ginsters said: “It seems men are no longer the domineering head of the family and they know it. We were surprised by how honest and open men were about their lack of say in their day to day lives. But most men didn’t seem to mind having to ask permission before doing things.” Nearly two thirds said that they rely on their partner to decide what and when they eat and nearly half admitted they asked permission before eating certain foods.
Men took no responsibility at all for how healthy they were, leaving their diet and choice of food up to their partner. More than half of men even consulted their partner before having a drink, with three quarters asking her before eating unhealthy food. Sixty per cent of men admit that their partner has complete control over when and how frequently they have sex.
Women take the responsibility for running the house and ensuring that chores and work gets done and also take primary responsibility for making decisions about the children. They are most likely to choose the names of children as well as what clothes they wear and where they go to school.
Larry said: “Men reported to trust their partner’s advice above all others. So it makes sense that they would want to consult with them before taking a decision. The idea of a man heading up the house is a thing of the past with most couples agreeing that the woman is now the key decision maker. Women are now more likely to be consulted before their partner makes any important decision and likely to get their way.”
The survey also revealed that women used a range of tricks to persuade their partner to take their advice and get their own way. Women were most likely to try and use their sexuality by flirting and wearing skimpy clothing whereas men tried to butter their partner up with treats like food or chocolate. Most men admitted that they had less success at getting their own way with their partner.
Does this line up with your experience? Want to comment?
Val Reynolds Brown, Editor
Gorgeous, meaty, tasty, great pastry, a good mouthful … just some of the remarks made when we tried the Ginsters Original Cornish Pasty, no, not the chefs! – you’ll see them later!
Considering the recipe hasn’t changed since Ginsters set up business in 1968, the remarks are testament to its pedigree!
All ingredients used are sourced locally to ensure they are the freshest possible and Cornish. This includes the meat, the cheese, double cream and vegetables.
So, what did we try and what did we think?
We tried the Chicken and Mushroom Slice: Mm, delicious, great pastry, distinctive sauce. One of us would have liked more meat. One mum said it would be a good standby in the freezer when having a hard day and not wanting to produce something substantial for the family. We had a carrot and celery salad to go with it on a hot day, and spinach and broccoli on a cool day. We heated the slices up on both occasions. Overall the women preferred this product.
Steak Slice: Popular with the men, we thought it was a good snack. Heated up it would be a good meal with vegetables. It was very meaty and well seasoned.
Cornish Pasty: This authentic recipe went down well with the men who like a satisfying filling product. Good pastry texture, could really taste the meat, good pub grub! Great heated up and makes a good meal with vegs.
Eaten hot or cold our findings were positive enough for us to be sure to look for them on our next trip to the supermarket. They are good for on the go, to take on picnics and a great fall back if we don’t have much time to cook. In fact, the freezability of all the products made them very desirable indeed, and with the reassurance of quality ingredients they are a knockout!
A cross between a sandwich and a pasty, they are designed to be ideal for eating on the go, without any mess. Can see the kids liking these!
More information on www.ginsters.co.uk.
We’re making a point of getting to the Health & Beauty Show at Hertford on 19 June not just because we heard a whisper, well more than a whisper actually! of some rather special goody bags with some of our favourite skincare products, oh no, but because it promises to be an interesting event for anyone really into wellbeing for themselves and those they love. There will be the chance for treatments and to watch demonstrations.
Bugs Count is a chance to better understand how and where bugs live. Hunt for bugs in soil and short grass; look on paving and the outsides of buildings; and search on plants and shrubs. Anyone can take part in this national study, led by Open Air Laboratories.
John Tweddle, Natural History Museum, commented, ‘We want everyone to get outside and discover the nature on their doorstep – look in your streets, playgrounds and local parks. With our towns and cities expanding, it’s vital we get a better understanding of how our wildlife is being affected by these changes, Taking part is great fun too!’
But why are bugs so important? They may be tiny, but bugs play a crucial role in pollinating our plants, recycling nutrients by breaking down waste, controlling pests and providing food for birds and other animals.
Val Reynolds Brown, Editor