Heart failure is not all rock and roll…
The shirt cut off me with apologies,
the white t shirt underneath cut away too.
A meagre sacrifice to pay to save my life,
“Heart in TV” I thought they said,
Looks of disbelief as one said,
a heartbeat of two hundred and fifty seven
I listened as they talked together,
five men, and a female doctor,
in their greens and reds standing over me.
I thought I heard them say again,
“hearts in TV”,
Down their mobiles,
the thought amused me,
my heart is on TV,
but not for long this was an emergency.
A discussion which A & E was nearest,
later, I felt the gurney sway and roll,
as the ambulance drove at speed,
through narrow country lanes.
a heart-beat of two fifty seven for three hours,
one said to another,
with meaningful looks.
More serious faces of disbelief,
the team in A&E was waiting to sedate and shock me,
to bring my out of control heart back,
to its old steady, regular beat.
A week later, I start putting the day together,
parts are fuzzy some parts missing still.
My mishearing TR for TV,
I live by the skill of professionals.
No luck involved…
me thinking it was some kind of joke,
my heart’s on TV.
Afterwards you asked “did you think you were dying?”
I don’t think I did,
I was too busy holding on,
trying hard to calm my turbulent heart.
In the middle of the emergency, lying prone on the gurney, I listened to the professionals in discussion, the paramedics and the ambulance crew, together with the Doctor and the Air Ambulance that had arrived. A discussion centering on which hospital I should be taken, the University Hospital in Cardiff or the nearer Royal Glamorgan Hospital, which would entail travelling through narrow country lanes. It was decided time was of the essence and it would be the Royal. I am grateful for that decision,as it was undoubtedly a factor that played a part in saving my life.
The Royal Glamorgan Hospital’s Accident & Emergency department had been under threat of closure. If this happened, the result would undoubtedly be lives would be placed at risk by taking people on a much longer journey to another hospital. The shorter journey would save lives. I am living proof that this was the case! A public campaign eventually elicited support from local politicians, and the Royal Glamorgan has stayed open to serve the surrounding communities.
Our NHS — National Health Service — has been under relentless attack for decades, since the time of Thatcher, from a bogus political doctrine with its feet in the former US President’s economic musings and which English politicians subsequently titled monetarism. British Society has endured a line of politicians who have put in place austerity and the swingeing cuts to public services which are paid for out of peoples taxes, or so we are led to believe. Even America’s supposed President Trump got in on the attack against the National Health Service! If ever there was proof that there was something good about the NHS, this must be it!
The value of the NHS is the provision of a service that is free at the point of demand! I was taken to an Accident& Emergency ward. There was no question of payment before treatment. My heart was shocked into a regular rhythm. Three days of tests followed. On the third day I had an angiogram, and on the fourth day a defibrillating pacemaker was fitted. On the fifth day I was discharged to home. No payment and no debt.
The beginnings of the NHS came from a profound need to make available medical treatment to the mining valley’s population and communities whose health had been seriously undermined by harsh work conditions, diseases like Measles, TB, and Typhoid to name a few, as well as poor diet and mal-nourishment. Also the demands made on women’s health by large families and lack of effective contraception. Housing conditions were inadequate and very often appalling, exacerbating the risk of disease becoming rife. And, it has to be said, mine owners who prioritised profit above the well being of their workers and their families.
Regrettably, a direct consequence of miners taking strike action was they were left with limited financial support and soup kitchen’s to fall back on. The 1910 strike lasted a year. Families had to subsist on very limited means. The record for child mortality and death of mothers following child birth in 1910 are utterly shocking. The Great Depression that followed added to the difficulties communities were already facing.
It is from this background the NHS was established. And, once again in this age of Covid19, we have discovered the service cuts imposed by governments, following the bogus monetary doctrine of cuts for short term financial gain, have left the population exposed to the extreme effects of the pandemic. People’s lives have been, as a direct result of lack of services and criminal neglect, lost through government dictat. There is now a need for a reset.
Verse as Commentary
Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.