Duncan Bell is… not healthy
Official: the worst thing about nearly dying and then being in hospital is the lack of tech
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 :-(”