Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Things Like This Happen To Other People (part one)

Things took rather a sinister turn last week - I had a heart attack and spent the weekend before my birthday in intensive care. 

I felt good when I got out of quarantine. A few days later I suddenly didn’t - we went for a walk and I got very out of breath - I had to sit down. It kept happening and it kept coming and going. Other virus sufferers told me they had exactly the same experience - the recovery is long and drawn out. I kept reading about the comet tail - recovery from the virus can be slow and fraught with setbacks. 

Apart from being short of breath, on occasions I started to feel quite nauseous. And then the chest pains started. High up, either side of my shoulders. Then they'd subside and I’d feel tired. I’d curse the virus and try to get on with things.

Obviously it was going to get better. Except that it didn’t. I had a day when I felt pretty crappy just about all day. The following day I got up and felt vaguely well. I sat and drank peppermint tea and enjoyed Amy’s latest homemade granola experiment. I felt tired - maybe I just needed to lay down for a while... I went up the stairs and felt the pain, an acute discomfort, grip me. I lay down and after a while it was a little better so I got up, got ready and went out with Amy in her car to run a few errands.

We were up north of Hudson where some friends have a farm. It was good to be out in the country, in the sunlight enjoying a socially distanced conversation.

I felt unwell. I had to excuse myself and get back in the car.

We set off to go home and I started to feel really unwell. Amy suggested we stop off at the hospital but that seemed to me like a drastic step, an admission that something was seriously not right. And that’s the last thing I wanted to admit to.

Amy said ‘I hope you’re not having a heart attack,’ and I laughed it off and said ‘No, that would be completely different to this.’ It couldn’t be - everybody knows a heart attack is when there’s something like a fist gripping a large stone in the middle of your chest and you get tingles and sometimes a shooting pain down your left arm. I didn’t have any of that so it couldn’t be a heart attack. And anyway, me and a heart attack? It’s not possible, it’s a bad fit. Heart attacks happen to other people and possibly to me in some dim and distant future when I’m very old.

I was quietly freaking out and trying to keep a lid on it because I didn’t want Amy to be upset. My head had turned into a hot, fuzzy mush, my rib cage was squeezing itself inwards, I had a fairly excrutiating pain each side of my chest and my arms had turned into nonsense. It became imperative that we get to the hospital. I’ve never seen Amy drive so fast.

We skidded into the ER parking lot where there was a barrier and one car ahead of us. Amy jumped out leaving the door open and the engine running. Everything was blurring by this point. I saw an exchange taken place but didn’t know what Amy was saying. I found out later it was ‘My husband’s having a heart attack.’

There was a team running across the concourse and I was in a chair being wheeled through. I think I told them I’d had the virus.

‘He’s Covid-positive!!

‘Room seven?’

Yeah, room seven.’

We crashed through to the back of the hospital and into a room containing a whole team of medical workers. They dumped me onto a bed, clustered around, fired questions at me - allergies, medications, date of birth… A nurse who said his name was Scott told me I was going to be ok and he was going to give me an injection. They gave me pills to swallow, tore off my shirt and stuck a whole bunch of electrodes on me. They put a tube in my arm, gave me the injection and siphoned half a gallon of blood out of me. 

Scott asked if I wanted a chaplain.

‘That’s the last bloody thing I want!’

A woman in a lab coat bustled in with some apparatus and announced that she was going to test me for Covid-19. The apparatus looked like something you might use to artificially inseminate a goat - two small wiry looking probes - I tried not to look too closely. She plunged them deep into my nose and I could feel them in my throat. It was unpleasant but it was over very quickly.

They gave me oxygen tubes and I began to feel a lot less alarmingly like I was about to die. I had four over-riding concerns: 

I wanted to someone to go and tell Amy how I was - they gave me my phone and I called her. I had no recollection of this until later. It went something like: everything’s ok here - apparently I’m having a heart attack. 

I wanted to pee really badly - why didn’t I have the sense to go before all this happened? 

I mustn’t die because tomorrow was the second anniversary of the death of my daughter Luci’s mother, and I really didn’t want to bring this on her. The timing was not good and at the very least I could hear her saying: why are you making this all about you? And quite right too.

I was three days from my sixty sixth birthday and I didn’t want to spend it in isolation in a hospital.

Bit by bit I was divested of all my clothes apart from my socks - I went through the ensuing twenty four hours wearing my socks - how quintessentially English - he died with his socks on… They put me in a flowery robe that didn’t button up at the back and it occurred to me that they weren’t planning on letting me walk around anywhere for a while, not in that garment, and anyway I was hooked up to too much machinery. 

I was going to be transferred to Albany by ambulance. I was introduced to the paramedics who were going to take me there, two large and baggy looking men in black satin bomber jackets. They were called Duane and Shane. They seemed quite proud of the comedy aspect of their pairing.

They swaddled me in blankets, strapped me down to the trolley, loaded me into the ambulance and off we went with the siren wailing, Shane at the wheel, Duane busied himself with a few things then sat with me in the back. 

‘So, what do you get up to in your spare time? Are you into huntin’ and fishin’?’

It was going to be a long ride to Albany. 

******

There's obviously more to come but it's a long and twisted tale. Look back in a day or two for the next installment.

44 comments:

  1. Very glad you are alive - happy 66 and so many more.

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  2. Oh Eric, please let yourself recover before you embark on any new projects. Rest. This fucking bitch of a virus is reluctant to let go of its victims. I'm not saying that you need to drink cillit-bang or get Amy to put ground up malaria pills into her granola, but you really need to get your strength back. Tim and I met in Hull, just like you and Amy and we saw you two perform some years ago at the Adelphi. I am hoping we all get to be together there again one day. Look after each other. Much love to you both.

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  3. Hope you managed a half decent birthday under the circumstances. Take care and get well soon.

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  4. Hope you're recovering, even if it is one step at a time. All the best.

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  5. I wish you well, Eric. Take it easy for a while and then make us happy with a wonderful new album...

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  6. Glad you made it. I had a couple in 2011/2012 on stage in Brixton. Of course the band were too sloshed to help. I'm happy to talk you through my experience of stents etc. Knowledge is power and all that. Rest. No tabs. No booze. No meat pies neither !

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  7. Replies
    1. glad to hear you're ok. If there's anything we can do....so sorry to hear. Don't know what to write as we're both just in shock. Just glad you're ok. Please stay ok. and then get much much better.

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  8. Goddamn, Eric. Woody's been keeping me up to speed. Glad you're recovering. Get well so we can take you to a backwater Waffle House sometime in 2022 or godknowswhen.

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  9. Your blog is so eventful and exciting. Get well soon, and take it easy. Every time you play in Edinburgh, I always say "I might give it a miss this time, he's without a band again". But I always go and you never disappoint. I will never doubt not going in future. Take care. Oh on a weird side note, cycling the other day listening to Big Smash, I imagined it would make a great musical.

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  10. Oh Gawd Eric... I'm hoping the fact that you're writing this story means it must have a (happy?) outcome. Rest, rest, rest and recover. There's still a lot of living, loving and larrikining (some Antipodean slang for ya) to be done.

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  11. So sorry Eric, that you had to go through all this, but very glad you made it out of it. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, looking forward to a new album, and maybe a tour in Europe?
    Take care and stay safe!

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  12. You are an amazing writer as well as singer and storyteller. Please get well, I know there is no alternative. Peace from Pennsylvania. And Happy Birthday

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  13. Glad to be reading your account of this and not something in the back of the paper. Stay strong.

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  14. Thinking of you Eric and sending much love and healing your way!
    xAngela & Alan

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  15. Barbara and I are sending love and healing mojo. I’ve had 2 heart attacks, 3 stents, and I’m still alive and kicking, Do what you can to keep those arteries open, and if you’re on statins for cholesterol, ask your cardiologist about CoQ. If that final taxi comes to get you, tell ‘im to sod off. Love to your better half, too. TomCat

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  16. Stick around Eric, you're needed here.

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  17. Eric. We've missed you in Leeds this year. Get well soon 😊

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  18. Well you’ve certainly packed a punch into the first 5 months of this wretched 2020. Enough drama. Now is the time to turn the tables on 2020 and write a new story. Stay well, recover and keep up the music. Well wishes from Victoria Australia

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  19. Lucky to have Amy! Glad you are recuperating.

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  20. Oh my god didn't expect to be reading this. Rest up and get well soon

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  21. Very glad you got where you needed to be! Hoping for a quick and easy recovery.

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  22. Get well soon Eric and rest up till your fully better. What a rough time you've had of late.take care.lots love.

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  23. Shirley Brilleaux20 May 2020 at 21:55

    Jfc, I had no idea you’d been through this. I’m so glad you’re on the mend now. I can’t even get my head around the fact this happened. Please get well soon. Lots of love to you and Amy ❤️

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  24. Gosh, Eric - I had been wondering how you were as you'd not been evident via the social meejah these last few days. You two have had quite enough trauma lately so I really hope that you can take it very steady and get on the road to full recovery from now on in. I think that 'Duane and Shane' might make a good country-type track title for some way down that road. Take good care, good man! Lots of love from Lisa and me. xx

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  25. Stay calm and do as you're told, they'll have you out in no time. Get well soon.

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  26. Feck!!!
    Thank goodness you're okay mate.
    What a shitstorm.

    Your close encounters make for very good reading but please, please, please, just settle down now and be boring for a while. The world needs you. Stop it with these near-death experiences ffs.

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  27. Good grief, what a harrowing read.

    Please take care.

    E

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  28. Eric. Really feel for you and although I believe in Dog rather than any deity I am saying a few words to myJack Russell and hoping you make a full recovery and soon. The planet needs you. All the best matd

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  29. Bloody hell that must have been scary, so glad you got through it. Rest up for as long as it takes. We need you on this plane. Your music and your writing {would love another book} makes the world a better place. Take care and hope to see you when you are fully recovered. 👍

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  30. Eric, I am so glad you're here to write this! Please keep recovering and stay well - we need you!

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  31. Ever think of taking up huntin' and Fishin'?

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  32. So glad to see you are alive, kicking... and in the best way possible, still Wreckless! Much love from Brooklyn

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  33. Oh wow ... obviously the story has a, at least somehow, happy ending. All the best for the recovery. You can't go. You promised to return to Australia again in 30 years ;)

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  34. Sorry to read your news, get well soon.
    Love this.....
    ‘how quintessentially English - he died with his socks on…’. x

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  35. OMG Eric. What a scare just reading that, can't imagine how it was for you and Amy. So glad you're still here to post this blog. Take care of yourself. Siu Lan & I hope you get well soon. Healing love from the lovely Limousin. xx

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  36. The Wreckless Room - converted kitcheonette - at the Punk Office still awaits a real-life visit from the spiritual leader. Without chakra or whatnot of course. Stay strong & do what Amy tells you. Postmaster Flash x

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  37. What a story, can hardly wait for part 2. Harrowing stuff. Rest up and hope you are feeling better soon. This world needs ya.

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  38. Monica Sparrow23 May 2020 at 09:58

    In case you can't feel it, I'm pulling for you.

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  39. Just seen this, so sorry to hear Eric. Please look after yourself, wishing you all the very best. Lotsa love.

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  40. So sorry to hear this happened to you. I hope you quickly recover fully. Val

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