This was the year my life changed. One day I was a typical beer-swilling bloke, the next I was in hospital undergoing tests. Still, that chapter has been fully covered in an earlier blog, and hopefully this is the last word of that particular saga. A few weeks ago I went back for another consultation with the heart-failure Nurse. She increased my medication and arranged for another scan. To say I didn't like the sound of this would be an understatement. However, on the 12th of November I duly presented myself at the hospital, took the scan and returned to the waiting room. The Doctor, I was told, would see me when they got the results. It was a very long twenty minutes, but I was walking on air when I left the surgery; my heart, although still enlarged, was almost back to normal; blood pressure healthy, no sign of clotting; I could stop taking a drug called Warfarin (wonderful! I no longer need to report to my local clinic every Monday to give a blood sample).
This is known as an INR (International Normalised Ratio) test , the purpose being to check the level of my blood and set the amount of Warfarin I would have to take over the course of a week; as this was a drug that thinned my blood, activities like visiting the Dentist became a minefield. I'm still taking a lot of medication, which may also be reduced in time, but coming off Warfarin is a huge step forward. I can now enjoy the odd drink (as a treat on 'special occasions'; so on that night I enjoyed a smashing pint of lager before returning to my usual soda water and lime) and I can make plans for the furure. I will not, however, be going back to my bad old ways. Those weeks in hospital (the tests, treatment and uncertainty) have all left their mark, and it is not a part of my life that I want to go through again. This is a second chance and I'm not going to blow it.
Alright, I can't get too carried away; no one is using the word 'cured', and I know what to expect if I stop leading this healthier lifestyle; so if my heart gets back to normal, it will be up to me to keep it that way. I certainly have plenty of incentive. (Pessimistically, I still have the Warfarin tablets and all the booklets - you know, in case someone suddenly says 'oh dear, I think we were a little premature taking you off that medication!'. It would be just my luck, but think positive.)
Right, I might as well have a little rant while I'm here; which will make this entry a little more entertaining if nothing else. So I get home from hospital, and a few weeks later I get a letter from SWALEC (South Wales Electricity, who supply my gas and electric) saying they are sorry I decided to leave them. Which was news to me, so I got straight on the phone and asked them what they were talking about. It seemed that I had changed my account over to British Gas on the 20th of June. No I bloody hadn't, I was still in hospital and I certainly didn't get a bedside visit from a representitive of B.G. So I gave the lady on the other end of the line the authority to change my account back to theirs, and agreed to pay British Gas for one month's supply when the time came.
Fine, but when that bill arrived it had an entirely ficticious name on it (Mr Popop Popopp, would you believe!) Now, far be it from me to suggest that some vile little ratbag had taken advantage of my absense to indulge in a little skullduggery and poach a SWALEC customer, but 'something' underhand had taken place! I rang British Gas and told them, in no uncertain terms, that I would pay their bill, and then I never wanted to hear from them again. So I went to the bank and paid up. End of story? Not a chance. For some reason the payment never went through, and I got a letter saying that my debt would be sold on if I didn't cough up. Rang BG helpline and demanded to know what the Hell was going on. No record of payment, could I check with the bank? Did so, no record of payment there , so I made the transaction again and kept the receipt safe. Thankfully, when I rang the helpline again, the payment had gone through; so I told the nice lady on the other end of the line to terminate my account, and repeated the fact that 'I - NEVER - WANT - TO - HEAR - FROM - BRITISH - GAS - EVER - AGAIN!!!'
In the meantime, I enjoyed a Fantasy Convention in Nottingham, where I finally planted my second foot into the modern age by taking along a newly-purchased digital camera. It took a week or two to get used to it, but I'm even putting stuff on YouTube now (got my own channel, how cool is that?) Not such a luddite after all:-) So the year 2010 is drawing to a close, and its not one I shall look back on too fondly. It will be 2011 when I write my next blog. Who knows what I will have written about at this time next year?