Heart Attack – Piece of Cake.

How I survived!

For most people having a heart attack, an MI or Myocardial Infarction,  can be life threatening or life ending, but, trust me, they are all life changing. It’s a simple rule of thumb – if you don’t change your ways you will die.

So what’s it actually like having a heart attack?

Some people do suffer the most agonising of pains, in either their chest, their left arm or in their jaws, (yes their jaws), or a combination of all these. My heart attack, the first one that is, happened on Thursday 5th May 2005 but I knew nothing about it. I was actually at work in Harwich at the time and I had some chest pain, which I thought was indegestion.  I tried to ‘self cure’ by stopping at a local garage and bought a bottle of diet cola, thinking the bubbles would clear the pain – they did not. I have to say the pain was not actually that bad, it was more a nuisance pain, a nagging constant that was most annoying particularly as it was my turn to drive. I was at least 70 miles from home at the time.

That evening I had my normal meal, watched some TV and then went to bed at my normal time. All normal, apart from that is, the nagging pain which had refused to go away. Naturally I had mentioned this to my wife and we probably exchanged a few words together, mostly sympathetic murmuring’s on her part, but really welcome none the less. I was excited because on the Friday I was going to Maidstone to see my daughter, her husband and my grandson for the weekend. I had arranged an early finish at work, had paid the hotel bill and filled the car with petrol. So I was all set to go.

I woke at 04.30 with an increase in pain level, enough to wake me at least. I sat on the edge of the bed with my wife patting me gently on the back trying to relieve the pain. I was sweating profusely, enough to fill a pint glass in a very short space of time and then I was sick. I managed to vomit into the toilet bowl, thankfully, and after that the pain appeared to subside. I tried to go back to sleep but it was no use because every time I lay on my back the pain increased. I decided that a ‘cure all’ would be a cup of tea. So. Off I went down the stairs and made myself a good brew in my favourite mug. I felt better already just sipping at the tea. I went back to bed and it was then I was told off for not making my wife one.

Sitting on the bed after returning with a mug of tea for my wife she told me I should phone the doctor’s out of hours service because she was concerned. This I duly did. The operator asked me a couple of questions and said an ambulance was on its way. I tried to tell her not to bother as I thought it was a trivial thing but she was having none of it. I was standing at the kitchen window washing up my tea mug when I spotted the ambulance go down my road to turn round. I wondered who the unlucky person was without thinking for one minute it was me. The next thing I knew, the ambulance crew were standing at my front door.

They did their tests on me, ECG etc, and eventually they said to me that they would like me to go to the hospital. The crew member who was clearly the senior said to me he was happy that I wasn’t having a heart attack but he was slightly concerned about the heart trace on the ECG. So I climbed into the ambulance and off we went.

I felt I was getting special treatment as I entered the A&E department of the hospital, (James Pagett), but I wasn’t. I was placed on a bed in a cubicle all to myself, wires were attached to my chest, I was given an injection in my stomach and I was told to chew on an Aspirin that was handed to me. Nothing seemed to happen for ages. By this time I was hungry and asked for something to eat. I was given a big bowl of Corn Flakes and two slices of toast.

I ended up being in hospital for a week because I had in fact had a heart attack. Sadly I was also diagnosed as a diabetic at the same time and now I’m on insulin as a constant reminder of my condition. For ages I thought the diabetes was caused through my heart condition but I am mistaken it is the other way around. My heart condition was caused by my diabetes and if you are interested please read my blog ‘ The Silent Assassin’ for a better understanding of diabetes.

So you see it’s not every heart attack that cripples the poor victim with an agonising pain. I confess it does look good when it is portrayed on television, rather than a man trying to get rid of wind by drinking fizzy pop. And it’s no good you thinking there are degrees of a heart attack because there aren’t, you either have an MI or you don’t. It’s only the pain that comes in degrees and in different places for that matter. I was told by a cardiac specialist nurse that on very rare occasions people have been know to have a heart attack and not have any pain at all.

Since then I have had another heart attack. The pain level was exactly the same. And as I knew what was happening inside my body I called the ambulance myself. Another week in hospital and yet more lifestyle changes. That was in 2007.

Good luck and don’t panic it’s only a heart attack.

Piece of cake.

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Tell me what you wrote – I don’t understand!

The written word is confusing!

I have an account with a well known social website. The other day I made a comment to a friend’s post which unfortunately was taken completely out of context. And there lies the crux of this blog. I’m going to ask a simple question and it is this; “How can the written word be made to pass on the author’s intent?”

The answer is; “You can’t.”

There are so many words in the English language that can be confused, words such as there or their each is spelt differently both have different meanings but sound the same. I am not going to press the point, but things we hear can also be misinterpreted.

Such as the saying – ‘Man opens door in pyjamas.” Does this mean that a man wearing pyjamas has opened a door in his house or does his pyjamas have a door in them? Or how about the saying “Police quiz man with knife.” does this mean that the police hold a man against his will and force him to talk whilst they hold a knife to him or simply that the man was carrying a knife, was seen by the police and asked to explain his reasons? One last one for joke fans is this; “Pierce can and stand in boiling water for ten minutes.” These are the cooking instructions for a steamed pudding that comes in a tin, but you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a way of exacting torture on a person by making them open a tin and then themselves stand in a pot of boiling water. You decide which are the correct meanings and I do suspect that you have reached the same conclusion as I.

There’s no doubt that the English spoken word can be confusing, as can the written word as demonstrated above. So all I can say by way of comfort is “Let’s be careful out there.”

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Driving Standards – Below Par!

Before I get to the point of my blog I have to give some outline first. And it goes something like this —

“There is no such thing as the perfect driver”.

There, I’ve said it and I have no doubt I’ve upset quite a number of men and probably a few females. Possibly all under the age of 25 with about three years driving experience under their belts.

I have never considered myself to be a very good driver even though I worked hard to obtain my ‘Institute of Advanced Motorists’ membership, (Nov 1990, Member number 222695). Membership to the IAM is by examination, a driving test lasting about ninety minutes. All examiners of the IAM are either serving or recently retired Police Officers but they all have one thing in common, they hold a Police Class 1 Advanced Driving Certificate. Now I personally consider them to be very good drivers indeed and because I know the training they receive, to obtain said certificate, I treat them with the utmost respect.

From information I have gained over the nearly thirty five years of driving there are two types of police driver. The class one, mentioned above and the basic “Roadcraft” trained driver.

Now for a very quick history lesson. I’ll be brief – I promise. The book I mention above is actually a driving manual that first appeared in 1935 for the sole purpose of teaching police officers how to drive. It set out a system of car control, “each feature of which is considered by the driver on the approach to any hazard. It is the basis on which the whole technique of safe driving is built”. On it’s introduction it managed to reduce the number of police traffic accidents to well below the public average, prior to which they were even. So the book stayed and remained unchanged until the mid to late 80’s when the ‘System of car control’ was changed. In my opinion it was a bad change and I still drive to the old system as laid down in the 1935 ‘bible’. To give you some idea of how tough it is to become a Class 1. About 90% of candidates on the training course, (each course lasts about two weeks and starts off with about twelve candidates), fail to ‘cut the mustard’. History lesson over, see I said I would be brief.

So! to the point of my blog today.

I was driving along at a steady pace of about 55 mph on a dual carriageway in lane one. I was sandwiched, (a safe distance front and rear), by two heavy goods vehicles, (for those reading this in the USA I believe you call then semi-trailers?). From one of my frequent rear view mirror checks I could see a police car approaching me in lane two. I have to say he was making good progress but not using excessive speed. He overtook the vehicle behind and then me and was approaching the vehicle in front. Meanwhile we were all approaching a junction off slip. I had passed the 300 metre board and the vehicle in front had just passed the 100 metre board, with the police vehicle drawing level with it’s front wheels. Soon it was clear that he had passed the hgv because I saw the left turn indicator as the vehicle pulled in to lane one, or so I thought. The next thing I saw were the brake lights of the hgv come on and then the police car driving down the slip road. I’m pleased to say the police driver was not a class one, but he should have known better than to cause a near accident because of his STUPID driving. He had plenty of time and space to slot in between me and the lorry in front, or even accelerated so that he could have made a better exit than he did.

Unfortunately the police officer has had some basic roadcraft training, even though the contents of the book were clearly still a mystery to him, which, even so, is still probably more than Mr or Mrs Car Driver will ever get. Today’s driving standards are appalling with the way some speed merchants want to get to point B completely disregarding other road users.

A few weeks back I was driving through my village heading towards the village green. The green is laid out in a triangle with a one way system in operation. The direction I was travelling in gave me right of way over oncoming vehicles, but the transit van I met had other idea’s. We managed to pass each other without touching and when I politely, (honest. I see no point in loosing ones temper in a car), pointed out that he failed to stop at the give way line he swore at me and told me it was not a give way. A quick look in his rear view mirror would have shown him the rear of the traffic signs as well as the painted lines in the road. I guess he thought the mirrors were to help comb his hair.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to have pet hates when driving. I have a number of them but the main one is lane discipline. I find it mind numbing the way other road users appear to drive along with their brains in neutral and the wheels across two lanes. The worse place to see how inconsiderate other car drivers can be is in the car parks of local supermarkets. I seriously believe that owners of the offending vehicles should be fined a huge amount of money. One last one for me, before I go, are motorway drivers I call members of CLOC, that’s the “Centre Lane Owners Club”. They can go for miles without realising they are a danger, with cars undertaking at high speed etc.. One false lane change without a mirror check, (they probably don’t know what the mirrors are for anyway), and it’s a free ride in an ambulance if you’re lucky.

I could go on, for ever, but I fear I may bore you. Especially with the tales of car drivers holding their roof on whilst driving single handed. Or the blissful navigator who is reading the map spread across the steering wheel at 70 mph.

It’s a nightmare on our roads not made better by the driving standards of the young. I always remember that driving instructors only teach people to pass a driving test, not how to drive.

Stay safe and please drive carefully. You may not be good enough to be a class one driver but there’s no harm in trying.

Posted in Cars, crime, Current Affairs, Law, Motoring, Norfolk Broads, Police, security | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you cleared to do that?

During my working life, which has been long and varied, I have held various degrees of security clearance, from the very basic to that which only some dream about. Imagine my surprise then when a headline in the “Daily Telegraph” caught my eye.

School bans parents watching sports day without criminal record check”

The article read

The Isambard Community School in Swindon, Wilts., insists all parents must clear a Criminal Records Bureau check to weed out potential paedophiles. Neil Park, 54, was furious when he was turned away from watching his son George, 12, play rugby. The father-of-five said: “I was turned away from the school because I had not been CRB checked.” 

I couldn’t believe it. What possible justification has the school for banning anybody from watching their kids play sports. Of course there is the danger that some parents have ‘pedo tendencies’ but surely in this country its a question of innocent until proven guilty? I personally believe it’s a case of a school going OTT with child protection.

I know I’ve said this before in a previous blog post, but when I was a kid I had free range to roam the streets of Kings Cross in London. My first visit to Kings Cross Station to observe the trains was at the age of 6 years old, that would make it around 1958. I never had any fear of walking the streets at any time of day or night. I lived on the second floor of a housing estate and I remember quite clearly that we never, ever locked the front door until it was time for bed.

It’s a sad reflection on society but I recently went back to London for an appointment and decided to show my wife where I used to live, where I was brought up. Unfortunately because of the high security fencing, the access control gates and the CCTV we couldn’t even get close.

It’s very easy to lay the blame at the foot of someone, or something, but I seriously believe that computers and the internet have played a great part in the insecurity of today’s society. Wherever there’s television or computers there’s a fear of crime, either perceived or actual.

If I were Mr Park I would complain in the strongest terms because interestingly this school is the only one in the area to impose such archaic and draconian security measures, what is the headteacher afraid of? Possibly it’s their own fear that perhaps they will not be able to protect the kids after all, incompetence at work is raising it’s ugly head here.

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It’s Murder at Work

Is there anybody reading this thinking about getting killed either today or tomorrow at work?

Of course there isn’t. What a silly question, you may well ask, and rightly so. You could even call my own sanity into question for asking such a foolhardy thing. But believe me there are a few careers where that very question is asked on a daily basis, and with some justification.

This week saw the murder of two female police officers whilst on duty. They were answering a hoax call to a house burglary in Manchester which proved to be fatal. If you can believe what you read in the newspapers, and in this case I do, the two officers were lured to the address just so they could be attacked.

Interestingly the police have a person in custody in relation to this event and who, it appears, was out on police bail following the killing of two people in a grenade attack. In an earlier incident some time ago he lost the sight in his left eye during a knife attack.

Reporters Martin Evans, Sam Marsden and Nick Britten from the Daily Telegraph wrote about the incident on 18th September. In their report they said “As they approached the house, a man suddenly emerged and fired more than ten times at them before throwing a grenade in their direction. Both women were fatally injured, one dying at the scene while paramedics were unable to save her colleague. A short time later Dale Cregan, 29, who was wanted in connection with the murders of father and son David and Mark Short in separate gun and grenade attacks, walked into nearby Tameside police station and gave himself up.”

It’s unusual to have a job where life or death is all part of the service, as the two police officers found out this week. Another public service where you can reasonably expect to get killed on a daily basis is the fire service, for quite obvious reasons.

Already there are those ‘knee jerk reactionists’ calling for the police to be armed, as they are in the USA. There are a few demanding the return of the death penalty for such ghastly crimes, as, once again, they have in America. But are any options the right options to take? I don’t think the police should be permanently armed, but I do believe in specialist police units who are armed and who are under very strict control in the use of their weapons.

I believe in the death penalty and for a number of reasons. For example. A man shoots another man in cold blood. Is identified as the shooter, pleads not guilty in a court of law, is found guilty by twelve peers and, because we do not have the death penalty, is sentenced to life in prison. Life in this case is actually fifteen years and with good behaviour the man walks through the prison gates a free man after serving just eight years. Not sure about you but I would much prefer to have my taxes used on a more deserving cause, such as the services of the NHS. I don’t want my hard earned cash being used to keep a cold blooded murderer in comfort for eight years.

So what happens now? What happens when the public have forgotten the names of the two female police officers in question? What happens when the public have forgotten the name of the accused? The answer is nothing. The world will still spin at roughly a thousand miles per hour. Murders will still happen on a daily basis. Specialist police firearms officers will still shoot armed men, and sometimes unarmed men. It’s unfortunate but it will happen again and again. Life goes on for all the people who put their lives at risk on a daily basis.

They all have my respect and admiration for the jobs they do.

Thank you all.

Posted in Capital Punishment, crime, Current Affairs, Firearms, Guns & Ammo, Law, Murder, Police | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Car Mechanics Made Simple!

Humph!

Don’t let the title fool you. Modern cars are equipped with on board computers that control virtually everything, which means when they go wrong they will generally cost a fortune to repair. I work with computers each and every day so the last thing I want is to drive home in one. I therefore don’t have a car that is controlled by a thin slice of silicon, or a billion transistors, any number of which can go wrong at any time, usually when you least expect it and during a rain storm. No sir – not me. I decided I wasn’t having any of that.

I decided I didn’t need the services of a mechanic, a garage and I could save a packet in labour costs. These days as soon as you drive into a repair shop you have spent at least £35.00 and the cost increases astronomically with each passing hour. So the plan was to go down the DIY route, if only to save some money. “I can do that”. were the words I used to inform my wife of my intentions. I should have known better at my age, (nearly 60), but I’m a stubborn old buffer with a head full of ideas and sawdust.

I own an old car, a Land Rover Discovery 2.5 TDi with the LR 300TDi diesel engine, which was built in 1996 and is complete with scratches and rust to prove its age. It’s a strange colour but the log book, V5, says its Blue but then sometimes when I look at it its Green. I’m not the only one to see this change in colour and in those famous words – its a trick of the light. I guess Land Rover gave this car a special paint job as it was introduced as the 50th Anniversary model with some refinements fitted as extra above the standard vehicle, like leather seats, electric sunroof, (which are prone to leak whereas the mechanical ones don’t), but not ABS which I have found truly amazing. Mileage on these diesels is unimportant but lets just say that mine is close to the 200k mark.

As an old car, and one I have owned for about eight months, I have grown used to the sounds it makes on a daily basis. Tones change in direct proportion to the work demanded of it. Until two weeks ago that is. On my daily commute I noticed a noise that I had not heard before. A cursory glance at the dials and gauges informed me that all was well, temperature was normal and I didn’t have any warning lights on. I ignored it.

It was a Tuesday when it happened. I had gone to work as normal on the Monday but the Tuesday I managed to progress about ten feet when I felt a sudden change in the steering, my PAS had failed. I also had the battery light illuminated which indicated a failed ‘serpentine belt’ or more commonly known as a fan belt. I reversed back into my parking slot and ran for a bus that was due at any moment.

That evening I took a look under the bonnet and discovered the belt was intact, but the water pump had seized and the belt pulley had snapped off. A quick browse on the internet and I discovered that a replacement pump, including gasket, came to under £35.00. So I bought one and then decided to do it myself. I should have discussed this with my wife first who knows me very well indeed and no doubt she would have talked me out of the fool hardy route of DIY.

I commuted by bus for the rest of the week and waited for the parts to arrive, which they did on the Friday whilst I was at work. My Saturday was then set aside as my ‘car repair day’. I have to say at this point that I am not mechanically minded, never have been. I don’t understand the laws of physics that define the use of levers, pulleys and fulcrums to control, lift and move heavy weights. But what I do understand is that I am poor and I can use the money that I would have paid to a garage. No contest.

I own the manual and other sources of information were made available to me, (my thanks to Mr G for his telephone support), so it was with confidence I put on my overalls and headed for the car with spanner in hand and a smile on my face because the sun was shining brightly.

It was a nightmare waiting to happen and happen it did.

In order to remove the old water pump a number of items first need to be removed, namely, the fan cowling, the radiator cowl, the viscous fan unit, the top and bottom radiator hoses, the thermometer housing filler bolt, the radiator filler bolt, the header tank cap, the water pump pulley, (this had fallen off when the shaft snapped but I still had to remove the pulley fitting held on by three bolts), the power assisted steering pulley and finally the belt tensioner pulley. Phew! A list that took me almost three hours to complete but only with telephone support and encouragement.

Then came the removal of the old water pump, held on by eight bolts, three of which were about six inches long. One of the long bolts had it’s head rounded so the 10mm spanner would not fit. A piece of percussive maintenance saw a smaller spanner knocked on to the head to allow it’s removal. I made a mental note to get a replacement at some time in the near future, but knowing what I know now I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. Once the pump had been removed then came the boring task of cleaning off the old gasket and preparing the surface for the new. An hour later saw me marrying the new water pump to the engine and the bolts being replaced.

Another two hours and the car was parked in its place with all systems working normally. To recap then, it took me a number of hours to complete the work. At garage prices it would no doubt have cost me in excess of £200 for the labour alone. I reckon I saved myself at least £300 by doing it myself. Total cost to me was one Saturday, about £35.00 in parts, a small amount of blood and DNA left on the engine. The engine now knows some choice swear words, as does the cat which sat on the garden wall watching me for about half an hour. I have a headache, I cannot remove all the grease stains from my hands despite using a proprietary remover and most of my fingers are sore.

If it happens again and the car needs work doing to it — then the car is going to a repair shop.

I can safely say – Car Mechanics are anything but simple and are not for me.

Posted in Cars, Current Affairs, Mechanics, Motoring, Vehicle Repairs | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Beach Picnic

The family, that’ll be my wife then, had decided we were all to take advantage of the nice (?), (relative to Norfolk), weather we were currently enjoying and go to a local beach, Winterton,  for a picnic. I say local its actually 10 miles away, but to us its local.

A bank holiday Monday family treat? I don’t think so.

We live near Great Yarmouth and the hundreds of caravan and camping parks dotted around the Norfolk Broads. I love Norfolk, but only in the winter months when we lose the influx of greedy, noisy and unsocial tourists. I hate to say it but the Brits are the worst, especially when you put them behind the wheel of a pleasure cruiser on one of the many rivers and broads that make this soggy and damp place so attractive. With the tourists come the traffic congestion on the narrow single carriageway roads that make up 99.9% of Norfolk. So any trip out would be fraught with anxiety, danger and I mustn’t mention the inevitable family arguments whilst stuck in a traffic queue.

I wasn’t happy about the trip at all, especially with the wind on the East Coast. The prospect of eating sand with my cheese roll thrilled me to bits, (sorry for the sarcasm), but at least my teeth would be cleaned without effort. Something else I had to look forward to was the noise from the jet ski’s, the shouting from other beach occupants and the radio’s played at extreme volume levels. Of course there is the option of requesting the volume to be turned down, or failing that, recourse to the local constabulary for assistance. But I fear this will not have the desired effect. I did exactly that once and when I requested the youth turn his music down or I would call the police, he produced a warrant card and said “I am the police”.

Sadly we will be unable to take the dog with us as it’s prohibited by local bye-laws. This, I’m afraid, is as a direct result of those irresponsible dog owners who have failed to clean up after their dog’s have messed on the beach.

So we arrive and pay the car park fees, which are extortionate as usual. The sun is occasionally appearing from the clouds to the west of our location and facing east we head towards the sea with the wind directly behind us. I’m wearing shorts and sand is blasting away at the skin of my legs. It feels like great mounds are being left on the sand, along with the dog poo that owners who can’t read have allowed their dogs to leave behind. After what seemed like an age we stop to pitch our camp. A blanket is placed on the sand with numerous rocks along the edges to keep it down and the picnic bags and my rucksack are being used as a wind break.

Oh dear! I neglected to visit the men’s room before embarking on our safari and I now need to empty my bladder, I need to go frequently but I put that down to my age and that’s another story. Needless to say I leave the party for half an hour whilst I visit the loo and on my return the sun has completely gone. It was then decided that it would be useless to eat within the increasing sand storm se we retired to the car for our picnic.

So! To recap then. We spent ages getting to a beach where we spent a lot of money to park. Then we failed to stay for the full length of time allotted on the ticket, due to the rain, (yes it started to rain quite heavily the result of which the car windows steamed up and we couldn’t see anything outside) and then we had to negotiate the camper vans and caravans on the drive home. All in all not a very productive time but we all agreed once we got home that  — we did enjoy ourselves.

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