After experiencing a tiny weird pain in my left arm, I was sent to the Emergency Department in an ambulance.
The route from the medical clinic to the hospital is about a kilometre. I could easily have walked.
But no walking for me. Here began the months of personal challenge and recovery.
What am I doing on this stretcher?
I entered the Emergency Department (ED) via an underground car park (yes, strange, I know). Like a plane waiting for take-off, I was positioned in a queue.
I was semi-upright, wrapped in a blanket, pain-free, alert but embarrassed, wearing my work clothes, clutching my wallet and umbrella. I was not bleeding, concussed, in pain, drugged, bashed or broken.
I felt absolutely ridiculous.
Discussions at the triage counter. Peering over at me. Clipboards. Bustling staff. Pointing and gesturing to a vacant cubicle.
They wheeled me into the brightly lit, curtained cubicle where I was moved from the stretcher onto a bed.
Lights! IV Catheter! Action!
The ED is no place to have a needle phobia.
The bore gauge (width) of some of those needles made my eyes water. And when inserted by inexperienced junior doctors……
I was punctured with not only multiple “garden variety” hypodermics for vacutainers, but also winged infusion sets and venous catheters. The crooks of my elbows were fast becoming purple and dotted with attempts to access blood vessels.
I was a voodoo doll.
Testing, testing, testing.
I had many tests and was continually monitored for about 7 hours. I’ve posted information about the type of tests they did in another blog post.
It was now past dinner time and I was still in ED with not much to do except:
- listen to the ranting drugged out guy in the next cubicle
- ask about my blood pressure
- use the commode again (because man, those infusions go through you quickly!)
- inspect my punctured skin
- wonder if I could still go to yoga in the morning
- wonder what to do about dinner
- quell the nagging suspicion that dinner and yoga are the least of my concerns.
With a negative test result and no further developments, I was taken to an observation area. At last, a glimmer of hope!
Just as I was about to be parked there, somebody told the orderly to bring me back to ED immediately.
Bring her back, there’s something weird on her ECG
They’d spotted something on my electrocardiogram (ECG).
So, back I went to the cubicle.
The drugged out guy in the next-door cubicle had gone. Instead there was a woman with chest pain. She was being told that all her tests were normal. She could go home. It’s just an anxiety attack they told her.
Lucky thing. Why can’t that be me?
Well, Well, Well! It’s Wellens’ Syndrome.
The first time I ever heard the term “Wellens’ Syndrome” was when the resident doctor was speaking to my sister (who is a doctor) on the phone.
I’ve got something with a name? So this must be real then.
At the time, I didn’t care what it meant. I was just relieved I wasn’t a fraud or an idiot. Acting on my instinct was not dumb. (Thank you, my Voice of Reason.)
Several weeks later, I investigated Wellens’ Syndrome. This Syndrome is almost guaranteed to end in a massive heart attack or death within three weeks.
[Edit] I wrote an article about Wellens’ Syndrome and it was published by Lateral Magazine in December 2016. Please read it.
- I feel safer and better when I know what is going on. Does knowledge help you cope too?
- I’m not scared of needles. Are you scared of needles?
Post your comments or ask me that burning question.
I’d really love to hear from you!
Some reading for the seriously curious
Tangle your brain with this reference about ECGs