"Having a heart attack in Norfolk"
About: East Of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust / Emergency ambulance East Of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust Emergency ambulance Norwich NR6 5NA Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital / Cardiology Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital Cardiology NR4 7UY
Posted by Lucky Bugger (as ),
In early August 2013, at the age of 48, I had a heart attack (a Myocardial Infarction, to be precise). I didn't know I'd had it. I assumed it was heartburn, but having never suffered from heartburn, I didn't know what I was feeling.
Having continued to go to work for two days after the episode, my GP rang me up, told me a blood test had shown I had had a heart attack and that an ambulance was turning up in a hurry and could I be a good boy and do what they told me.
From the moment the ambulance arrived, I have never received treatment like it. The knowledge and tone of voice of the paramedics in the ambulance was outstanding. (For instance, in answer to my question "am I going to be OK? " they said "as long as you're sitting there talking to us, you'll be absolutely fine"). I felt as safe in that vehicle as I did in hospital.
The professionalism, efficiency and "bedside manner" of everyone working in the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, from A&E through to the ward, was exemplary. The treatment was seamless, the care was, brilliantly, firmly gentle, as it should be (compassion can't be confused with empathy).
I went from A&E, through to the Coronary Care Unit, (the heart version of ICU, I assume), and eventually to the "boys' dorm", the main ward. At the end, I was treated in the angiogram suite by a relaxed, happy, professional and hugely skilful team. Since I was awake for the whole procedure, I was lucky enough to watch them, using 21st Century technology, "mend" my heart.
It has always been my belief that to go into hospital is to go into a place where you will get better. This frame of mind has always meant I have a positive approach to the experience. This allows me to perform my side of the patient / clinician "dance". I am (I hope) polite, helpful, as flexible as I can be in the circumstances and patient; I listen and I ask questions as clearly as I can about my treatment.
I am sure that keeping the patient's side of the bargain makes a huge difference to the treatment one receives and thinks to have received. I recognise that the clinical staff at any given NHS hospital are under enormous pressure for large parts of their working day, through no fault of their own. To add more pressure on them unnecessarily means you risk compromising your treatment, and quite possibly that of others, too.
I have the highest opinion of everyone who looked after me, right down to to the cleaner, who I watched disinfect every square inch of a room, down to the underside of the inside of a non-clinical waste dustbin.
Not only did they all save my life, but they did it in a way that should be celebrated and used as an example for teams not only across the rest of the medical world, but across the broader business spectrum.