A couple of weeks ago I booked to see my GP. I had a very swollen right foot. This had started about 2 weeks beforehand. It was not improving even when I was sitting in bed with my feet elevated.
My leg was slightly swollen, but nowhere near as much as my foot. I also had some discolouration. Thankfully I had no extra pain.
Having examined me carefully my GP was concerned that I might have a Deep Vein Thrombosis. My only previous history of DVT was 40yrs ago, when I was on the pill. My GP was also concerned that I may be at risk of Pulmonary Embolism, a clot of blood on my lungs. I had been getting increasingly breathless – though I did not feel it was any worse than when she saw me in April.
But, being as thorough as ever, my GP advised me to go to my local Accident and Emergency Department ASAP. She printed off all my medical notes to take with me.
So, less than an hour later I was at a large London hospital. I was checked in at the desk immediately and only had to wait 10 more minutes to give all my details to the clerk. At this point I will admit to feeling slightly scared, I really don’t want or need another medical issue or diagnosis.
90 minutes later I was seen by a highly experienced professional Triage Nurse called Natalie. My BP was raised at 186/92, my pulse was 124 and my oxygen saturation levels were 92. Both of the latter results are fairly usual for me. My severely reduced lung function had at least, not deteriorated.
Natalie quickly did an ECG – electrocardiograph. This did not show any abnormal rhythms. Despite everything being ok, Natalie made the decision to take me round to the major treatment area to be seen by a doctor.
Within 5 minutes I was seen by Dr Elle. She quickly put a cannula in my hand and took bloods from me. The main test I was going to have was a d-dimer which can show if there are high levels of fibrin in blood. This can give a good indication of the likelihood of having a blood clot in my lungs or leg.
The results would take an hour to come through, so I settled down to read my kindle again. Dr Elle had explained to me that the hospital protocol varied, depending on my results. If my d-dimer was raised, I would have an immediate CT scan and possibly be admitted. If the results were ok, I would be sent home with a short course of blood thinning medication. I would then return for an ultrasound scan of my leg after the weekend.
Thankfully my results were negative – whew!! I was so relieved!!
I went home, rested and took my medication over the weekend. I returned to the hospital on Monday for my scan. That too was clear.
Within another week the swelling on my foot was greatly reduced. What caused the swelling remains a mystery.
I couldn’t help but be grateful for all the wonderful care I received. Whilst Dr Elle was fairly sure I had nothing seriously wrong, I was treated as though I did. The reassurance of knowing I would have those tests was priceless. Yet it is so often something that we in the UK take for granted.
We still have a great NHS despite the efforts of this ghastly government and its predecessors attempts to destroy it.
When I hear of those in the US who cannot get good health care or the level of health insurance they need, it makes me even more determined to campaign to keep our NHS free at the point of use.