How it began

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!
“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.

About 2clots

47-year old Welsh cyclist. I suffered a dual pulmonary embolism in March 2011, following an attack of transverse myelinitis in 1994. Apart from that, I'm fine. Author of Red Dragons: The Story of Welsh Football.
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