At about 10pm on Friday night, I was sitting with my laptop on the thick arm of my leather sofa when I felt a pain in my left shoulder. It had appeared intermittently throughout the day, but I thought nothing of it as I often get these sort of twinges. I sit for hours and hours at a time working on websites or photograph editing and repetitive strain is common. I had spent 6 hours on Friday at the computer, working on a book, with my left arm in a raised position leafing through every match programme produced for a home Wales game since 1960. No wonder I was getting cramp.
Then I started getting cramps underneath my ribcage. The pain became sharp when I breathed in. No problem – stop breathing in. I soon found out that not breathing in was a poor option in the long term and stood up to stretch….whoa! What’s this? I feel weird. Something’s not right.
I turned off the film I was watching (Scouting Book for Boys..not bad… 7/10) and went upstairs where my wife was reading in bed. Even though I was still reasonably comfortable, I didn’t make my usual shut-down tour of the house – something told me this would get worse very quickly. The pain got sharp just as I told my wife, and any questions she asked were answered with an aggressive irritation while I hopped about at the foot of the bed. Sarcasm seemed the most appropriate response.
“Where does it hurt?” THERE!
“Is it painful?” NO, NO, I’M JUST PRACTISING MY KOSSACK DANCING
“What sort of pain is it?” Agh..agh…ONE THAT FUCKING HURTS! ”
“Is it in your chest or your side” Ooh! aah! (panting now)…ALL OVER!
I should point out that my wife is a Doctor and was merely trying to ascertain if I was about to die, or was having a stitch. Personally, at that moment, as I struggled for breath, I’d have bet on the former. I grasped the bedrails tightly and refused to move, talk or answer any stupid questions that might save my life. I did manage to moan very impressively, and panic.
If Mair hadn’t been there I would have dialled 999. I wouldn’t have been able to speak but hopefully the operator would be able to grasp a morse code transmitted by pants and grunts. But with a soothing massage, breathing exercises and reassurance that I probably wasn’t suffering a heart attack, I made it into bed after about half an hour and noticed that I had become feverish. I took some strong anti-inflammatory pain killers that I had been prescribed for gout and managed to sleep eventually.
I woke up in pain within a couple of hours and decided to get across to casualty. Mair was on call from home that night and couldn’t leave the kids, so I drove the couple of miles to Ysbyty Gwynedd alone. I was seen straight away, though when they told me I was being admitted, I started to regret that I had grabbed my smelly, dirty, gardening fleece as I left the house in the dark. At least I’d had the foresight to wear clean black pants.