Sunday, July 18, 2021

Uncle Bert and the light at the end of the tunnel

 When I were a lad, we had a permanent lodger in our house.  Dear old Uncle Bert, my mum's bachelor brother.  Imagine the BFG in Steven Spielberg's film of that name.  That's my uncle Bert (well somewhat larger than Bert but just the same in all other respects, tall and broad, big nose, very rustic and kindly).  Bert used to take me to the pictures on Sunday afternoon and he would give me sweets and a bit of pocket money.  At home he did his best to be invisible, and every night he'd disappear down to the British Legion club for a pint or four of scrumpy. On Coronation day in 1953 after a few scrumpys he climbed the giant sequioia tree next to the village church to put a flag on the top.  I don't think he would have contemplated it sober.  Bert was a man of very few words and never complained about anything, except when he had a bad bout of flu or a 'bilious turn' when he would admit he felt "proper middlin' ".

Why am I telling you all this?  Well lately (actually for quite a long time) I've felt proper middlin' too, which is why we haven't been boating.  It's the old ticker not working properly.  For a long time my consultations with the doctor got no further than changes of blood pressure pills, plus aspirin and larger statins.  18 months ago I had an angiogram in the hope of a stent putting me right, but they found my coronary arteries weren't bad enough for that.  I even considered going to Steve at The Repair Shop, but it turns out he is an expert in the wrong sort of ticker. So, recently I had a good go at the doctor complaining that my lifestyle was heavily compromised because I couldn't do anything involving more than very mild exercise before getting breathless and dizzy.  Even a gentle stroll is a trial if I meet a tiny slope. I'm not sure what I said, but suddenly they started treating my problem with a lot more seriousness.  Maybe it was because my pulse had dropped to an average 39 bpm. Only a week or so later I got an appointment to have an "ambulatory ECG monitor " fitted.  I wore this gubbins for 24hrs then took it back to the hospital next day and had an echocardiogram (which is great fun, I wish they gave you the video afterwards).  That night I got a phone call from the consultant's secretary - he had seen the results and wanted to make sure I had come off the beta blockers (I had some while back, because even I knew they slowed the heart). She also said I would be getting a letter with an appointment to have a pacemaker fitted asap.  

At last! A light at the end of the tunnel (a tunnel as miserable and tortuous as that at Braunston where for long periods you can't see the other end ).  Apparently I am suffering from 2:1 heart block (Most of the time my heart is missing like a badly timed diesel engine) with occasional bursts of total heart block (I prefer not to think about that too much).  It's an electrical thing where the heart chambers are not properly triggering in sync.  Just the job for a pacemaker apparently.  According what I have read, they make a helluva difference.  If either of my readers has one, I'd be happy to hear how you got on.  So I get my new gubbins fitted on Tuesday week.  Hooray.  Then I have a shortish period of convalescence while the wires heal themselves into the surrounding tissue so they don't come loose (no waving my left arm in the air) and hopefully job's a good 'un.  So, it shouldn't be too long before we're back on the water.  Late August maybe, providing another lockdown isn't in the offing.

Downsides?  I'll have to keep away from our SeaSearcher magnet on the boat, and only use our Peter's induction hob at arms length.  Last night I panicked that I wouldn't be able to use my electric guitars because of the pickup magnets near my chest, but I looked it up and apparently it's ok. Thank you Google.

Updates for the curious will follow when it all happens.


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Good on you Neil, for having a go at the doctors and making them sit up and pay attention. Great post too! I like the story of you Great Uncle Bert. I am holding you in my thoughts for a quick, clean, straight forward pacemaker insertion and healing. I am looking forward to further posts on this and the difference it makes for your day-to-day living. Thank you for keeping us posted!

Biggs big hugs to you and Kath,

Jaq xxx

Carol said...

Good to hear from you Neil and will the holding you in our thoughts on Tuesday.

Very best wishes from George and me. xxxx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

That is excellent news, Neil. Good on you for being assertive. Pacemakers are such a cost effective health solution and it is great that you are getting one fitted pronto - clearly, once they got their a into g and did the investigative work, your need was obvious!

All of the people I know with pacemakers are very enamoured of them and their effectiveness. One friend is a sheep dog trainer and triallist (1 l or 2?) and he pounds up and down hills like a youngster with his pacemaker doing a sterling job. He has had a variety of models of them since the mid 1990s and the technology has got smarter and smarter every time. They can now do their own jump start on you - how cool is that?!

Looking forward to reading how it all goes - I bet you feel a vast improvement immediately!

Cheers, Marilyn McD

Adam said...

My mother had one, and it make a big difference -- including that she could be monitored remotely by the heart clinic! I;m sure you'll soon be up and running again (well maybe not actual running, but you know what I mean).

nb Bonjour said...

All the best for Tuesday Neil, and well done for being so assertive. Maybe we should come to you for classes if the need arises! I've been missing your blogs, so looking forward to hearing how it all goes.
Very best wishes from Debby and Dave

Vallypee said...

Oh goodness, Neil, you too! My other half, Koos, has to have the same for almost the same reason. He had an attack of a racing heart (210bpm) and also had to wear one of those monitor things for 24 hours, which (oddly enough) resulted in them finding his heart rate was actually too slow, so he also has to have a pacemaker. I hope yours has been fitted by now and that you're doing okay with it. Do let us know how it's going! What good fortune that you insisted so strongly on having something done about it. Feeling proper middling is just not good enough, is it?