Humourless Blog and Salutary Tale

16th February 2017
As we were getting a lift into Heathrow the local parakeets were zooming in to roost. ‘Be seeing plenty more parrots soon’, I say. What a stupidly prophetic statement to make for such a glass-half-empty person.

We were off to Australia. The trip was meticulously planned - cabin in the Queensland Rainforest surrounded by snappable creatures; then off to Perth - selfies with Quokka, the full West Coast experience. What could possibly go wrong?

Checked in at Heathrow - not even a serious delay on the M25. Painlessly through security, good food on the Malaysian Airlines flight, plenty of films to watch….. all hunky dory.

Change flight in Kuala Lumpur - grab bag from locker and head out of plane. Mmmm feel a bit dizzy, better find a wall to lean on and let the disembarking passengers pass. Ten paces and down I go….. wallop, apparently. Come to my senses with concerned faces looking at me - I’m panting and glugging water. Julia is looking at me and paramedics are putting an oxygen mask on me. A fellow passenger who is a Malaysian Doctor on his way home from Leeds (name to follow….) is organising proceedings…..

Nothing like this has ever happened to be before - I’ll be OK, must have been the shock of hot air coming off the plane?

I’m taken on a stretcher to the medical room and they keep giving me oxygen and start tests. Blimey this might make us miss the connecting flight. Can I go soon, I’m feeling better now? The on-call Doctor suggests not and recommends a night in hospital. Bugger, will have to get new flights sorted…

Ambulance to hospital (with flashy lights) and the tests start - lots and lots and lots of tests. Right we’ll definitely have to re-book stuff tomorrow and keep out eye on the connection to Cairns. They want to keep me in for observation, blimey, lots of flight changes to do, change the car-hire, let the accommodation know we’ll be late…

Do you think we’ll be able to fly on tomorrow then? The Doctors look on knowingly…….

Have a CT Scan in the morning with the senior Doctors getting the results before I get back to the ward. Yes there are clots on my lungs and I suffered a Pulmonary Embolism. It suddenly hits me - its a genuinely life-changing moment. I’m not going to Oz, I’m not going anywhere! I’m bloody lucky to be alive. 30% of people who collapse like I did, never get up. Suddenly you realise changes in your life are not an option, but a necessity - they really flamin’ are.

Yes, Mr Stephen you were a genuine emergency - less than 70% oxygen in your blood.

So to all you well healed travellers - like me. So, to all you that think you are indestructible; You are NOT. Do your DVT exercises on the plane, walk up and down - and do it better than I did. It could be you, maybe.

So I shall continue to lie here looking at the ceiling of Ward 4a in Putrajaya, thinking about the thousand ‘what-if’s’ in my head and listening to the night noises of a Pulmonary Ward. In an hour I’ll look at the clock, and it might be 10 minutes later than I last looked at it….. But, hey, I’m alive…

Thanks are due: to the Doctor who helped out off the plane and pretty much knew what was happening. To the brilliant Doctors, nurses and staff on Ward 4a, but mainly to Julia. I sorry I buggered up the trip, I’m sorry to give you such a scare’ “I thought you were having a heart attack”. She is an absolutely brilliant lady in a crisis. You are marvellous…..

Updates later, we hope……..