Dun­can Bell is… not healthy

Of­fi­cial: the worst thing about nearly dy­ing and then be­ing in hos­pi­tal is the lack of tech

T3 India - - Opinion -

So I’m ly­ing on the floor in my pants, and a para­medic is shov­ing a nee­dle in my arm while say­ing to his col­league, “Ooh, that is low. Yeah, that’s not good. Crikey!” Words to that ef­fect, any­way.

Ac­tu­ally, the only rea­son I was even wear­ing my pants was due to my boyfriend thought­fully putting them on me be­fore the am­bu­lance ar­rived. Be­cause while drop­ping dead of a car­diac ar­rest might be bad, do­ing so while ev­ery­one can see your junk is just un­for­give­able.

The nice man and lady in green over­alls were shoot­ing me up with at­ropine, which is an an­ti­cholin­er­gic and po­tent bel­ladonna al­ka­loid used to im­prove hemo­dy­namic sta­bil­ity. That’s ’cos my heart had just nearly stopped.

As I was strug­gling onto their wheeled ill-per­son-chair-thing (I think that’s what they call it),

I did what any­one would do in that sit­u­a­tion: used the Slack app on my iPhone to mes­sage the of­fice, “Hey guys, hav­ing heart at­tack, start meet­ing with­out me :-(”

It’s fun to stay at the NHS

My phone was the only part of my tech arse­nal that I was able to bring with me, but I did get a few new ac­ces­sories. There was the nee­dle thing in my arm for at­tach­ing bags of salt water and drugs to (a can­ula, if you’re med­i­cally minded) and about 500 sticky elec­trodes run­ning to an ECG.

You know how peo­ple al­ways com­plain that tak­ing your heart rate from your wrist with wear­ables isn’t very re­li­able? Hav­ing tried the ‘proper’ med­i­cal ver­sion of that, it’s hardly a sur­prise. It seemed to in­volve tak­ing elec­tri­cal read­ings from 37 key points, across my en­tire torso. How is shin­ing a small green light at your wrist ever go­ing to match that for ac­cu­racy?

The funny thing was that at the hos­pi­tal they had to put an en­tire new set of sticky elec­trode things on, be­cause the bleepy heart ma­chines in A&E are dif­fer­ent to the ones in an am­bu­lance. It’s like go­ing from iPhone to An­droid.

Later on, the ones on the car­di­ol­ogy ward were dif­fer­ent again like, I dunno, Win­dows Phone. Thank­fully not too much like Win­dows Phone, as you can tell from the fact that I’m not dead.

Now, I don’t think I’m break­ing any news to any­one when I say that be­ing in an NHS hos­pi­tal is pretty bleak. They bring you food that is lit­er­ally like school din­ners (though this might de­pend on your school), and it’s full of sick peo­ple, weirdly. Be­cause it was the car­dio ward, they were fre­quently very, very fat sick peo­ple, de­spite the food.

Worse than the grub, the Wi-Fi is rub­bish, and for some rea­son I had to pay to watch TV, but only af­ter mid­day. Maybe the pa­tients riot if they don’t get to see Good Morn­ing Bri­tain and Jeremy Kyle? Of course, with a phone you’re never re­ally alone, so I was fine for a while, but… I hadn’t had time to grab a charger.

Let me tell you, noth­ing is more ter­ri­fy­ing in a hos­pi­tal than the fear that you may run out of bat­tery. Well, okay, maybe a few things are more ter­ri­fy­ing, but it’s right up there. At this point in any hos­pi­tal anec­dote it’s cus­tom­ary to thank the amaz­ing staff, and I’m no ex­cep­tion. I owe my life, or at least my san­ity, to the nurse who let me bor­row her charger overnight.

My other tech take­away from my med­i­cal emer­gency was some­thing that oc­curred to me as I was ly­ing on the bath­room floor think­ing, “Hang on, I can’t die here, I’m not even wear­ing pants!”

As part of my ‘tech lifestyle’, I wear gad­gets that check my heart-rate ev­ery sin­gle day. You might think that the kinds of pricey, next-gen health and fit­ness wear­ables we’re talk­ing about here would have given me some inkling of heart stop­page in the near fu­ture. Even if not at the time, at least with hind­sight when look­ing back at the data. Right? Nope, not a dicky bird.

You know, I was half ex­pect­ing an alert say­ing, ‘Your rest­ing heart rate is down to 7 – that’s a sign of great fit­ness, keep it up!’ next to an im­age of a beam­ing car­toon clown. Maybe next time…

I did what any­one would do and mes­saged the of­fice, “Hey guys, hav­ing heart at­tack :-(”

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