….and a little explanation of my complete absence from the blogging scene during the last few weeks.
In the middle of September, I popped over to the UK to spend a couple of weeks with my elderly mother. She is 88 years old, with many a health complaint associated with that territory, but had been doing fine (so I thought) for quite a while. During the late evening of the third day of my visit, Mum started to feel rather unwell. The pain in her chest and down her left arm was not a good sign so I called the NHS helpline. Two paramedics in an ambulance arrived so fast that they beat my sister to the front door and she only lives two hundred yards up the road. Now that’s what you call service!
After swiftly checking her out, the paramedics decided Mum and her atrial fibrillation should go to hospital. Off we went in the ambulance and spent the next few hours in A & E with Mum hooked up to a beeping machine and flirting with the male nurses. She was feeling much better by then and wanted to go home but the doctors had other ideas. She was admitted for further observation which was just as well, as another little blip occurred the next day. Eventually, it was decided that Mum should be fitted with a pacemaker.
This little gadget, as far as I understand it, is designed to keep a slow heart to the correct number of beats per minute. Beta blockers are also taken to stop the heart beating too fast. Somewhere in between is the “sweet spot” that should keep my mother out of the hospital and on an even keel. The procedure is performed under a local anaesthetic. They want you awake to follow instructions and tell them how you’re feeling. My poor Mum would have felt a lot better if the surgeon hadn’t been giving her a full running commentary. Some things you just don’t need to know!
One day later, Mum was released into my care and allowed to go home. No such luck for me, of course! Mum needed a lot of looking after. The left arm was not to be used until the stitches came out, ten days later. She was also lacking in the energy department, understandably. So I missed my original flight home at the beginning of October.
In the meantime, having realised that living alone was no longer a sensible option, my mother and my sister decided to put both their homes up for sale and look for a larger property to share. Almost two weeks into a steady recovery, and after I had tempted fate by rebooking my flight for the end of October, Mum experienced a relapse due to emotional stress. Signing the contract with the estate agent to sell the house she had lived in for thirty four years proved a little too much for the old ticker.
Three-thirty in the morning, paramedics, ambulance, A & E, beeping machines, Gordon Hopkins Ward, deja vu. Evidently, pacemakers are not a general panacea for ills of the heart. Angina attacks and atrial fibrillation can still occur if one is unduly stressed, physically or mentally. A few days later, Mum was home again and promising to “chill out” and “let it all wash over her”. One of those nifty personal alarm buttons was procured and I was told that I must go home now because my husband would be missing me!
And so, after my usual period of zombification, I am writing this blog post! I did a bit of research on line and found this Wikipedia article if you are at all interested in the history and development of the artificial pacemaker.