Steroids, doctors and paramedics

After getting up at 7am yesterday to go to work (it’s only been two weeks, and as bored as I am, I hated having to go to work), I tried to put off the headache and tight chest feeling that I woke up with.

Picking up a hire van at 8am, driving to Wood Green and the Enfield to load up boxes from both branches, before dropping them off at Watford, I knew something was wrong as I couldn’t seem to walk up stairs or carry anything without getting completely out of breath.

I was home by 2pm, but came in, said hi to mum and went to bed. I felt rough.

After a couple of hours kip, I woke up covered in sweat and feeling like complete crap. I stuck it out for a few hours, before coming downstairs at 8pm. Mum took one look at me, breathless (me, not her) and covered in sweat, and asked if I thought I should call the doctor. I’d only been to the doctors a couple of days previously to see about my continued tiredness and the acid indigestion I’ve suffered with forever. The doctor really didn’t have the time of day for me, and I now need to go and have a blood test to determine the cause of tiredness, and have been given some tablets for the indigestion.

Anyway, I hate being the centre of attention but finally acquiesced and called the local doctors, which after 5pm goes to an out-of-hours number. They took my details, went through the symptoms and said that a doctor would call me back within twenty minutes. Having used this service with the kids various times, I know that they are normally fairly good at their timings, and call within the time period given. I’d barely relayed this to mum when the phone rang - the doctor had called me back almost immediately.

After going through my symptoms again “tight chest, breath pains” and answering their question “No, my lips and fingertips aren’t blue, no I don’t have asthma” she told me to call an ambulance. Bugger.

I called 999 and within five minutes a paramedic turned up, followed ten minutes later by an ambulance crew from Harlow (30 minutes away) who had just attended another address in Chelmsford. It turns out that I do have asthma, probably brought on by hayfever. My chest was wheezy all over, so the paramedic put me on oxygen and a nebuliser and that sorted me out in ten minutes or so, although after doing an ECG (from which I now sport a partly hairless chest for the first time in my adult life) and various other tests including blowing through a tube, he was there for almost 90 minutes. The ambulance crew, which could well have been mother and daughter, were there for about 45 minutes, and barely did a thing although they stuck around in case I needed to go in to Accident and Emergency for any reason.

The paramedic told me I had to see my doctor today, and so I booked an appointment for 11am, and duly went down there. Ten minutes later, after seeing the Locum, who gave me more time and was much better that the doctor I saw on Monday, I was packed of with a prescription for steroids and anti-biotics, and told to continue using the inhaler that the paramedic gave me as and when I needed to. So in a little over twelve hours I had paid out £28 to the NHS for prescriptions. I’m sure that’s a little on the over-expensive side.

It turns out that I have a genuine chest infection. I don’t know why the doctor told me it was “genuine” It certainly felt genuine, what with the tightness and the breathing problems, but he felt the need to say it a few times. The anti-biotics will clear it up, the steroids will help my lungs recover, and I should be fighting fit within a few days. In the meantime I’m resting up.

I was told by the doctor that I needed to take my steroids in the morning. I asked him why and he explained that if I took them in the afternoon, or later, they’d make me a little high and keep me awake, but that he wanted me to take my first lot when I got home. Suffice to say that taking the pills at 12pm hasn’t made me high, or awake, and in fact I’ve managed two 90 minute naps since then. God knows what my body is doing, but it seems to take the “will make you stay awake” warning as a challenge.

Thankfully I’ve just got the first series of My Name Is Earl to wade through, with the second series on it’s way. After going through the first five series of Peep Show in less than a week, hopefully these new ones should last a little longer, having 24 episodes per series instead of six.

*Edit: I’ve just looked up the steroids on Wikipedia. Apart from being used for chest infections, it’s also used for syphilis, chlamydia, and acne. Even if I *did* have an STD - something like genital herpes symptoms at least, which is unlikely, this would help clear it up, and give me better skin in the process! And we get told steroids are bad 😉

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