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Barry's Blog #213 - Health scare

Updated: Jan 22, 2022

"On a scale of 1 to 10 what was your pain level?" Asked Ali.

"11" I replied.

Ali raised his eyebrow.

The incident

I woke up on December 29th 2021 and sat down in front of my laptop at the saloon table and opened up my emails. As I began to type replies I noticed a dull ache in a mid level muscle on the right hand side of my back.

It felt very similar to an ache I used to get in the muscles between my shoulder blades when I lived in Australia. Back then a visit to my chiropractor and a few quick cracks of my spine and neck bones and I would be fine. There are no 'chiropractors' in Turkey. Throughout that day the dull ache got stronger and migrated into other back muscles. I thought that the aches would just eventually fade away.

That evening we were invited to dinner on board a friend's yacht in Finike marina. We had a wonderful time talking about this and that and enjoying the great food. After dinner I felt the ache in my back muscles getting stronger and more consistent. The muscle pain then migrated around to include muscles just above the lower part of the bottom of my front ribcage. Breathing began to become painful. I began making low pain sounds with each breath and Phil our host asked if I was okay. I clearly wasn't and it was suggested that I head home to rest.

Barely getting my shoes on, Aannsha had to tie my laces, and getting onto the pontoon caused me great pain when breathing. The short walk from pontoon C to pontoon B had me crying out in pain and by the time that I got down below on A B Sea I was having difficulty breathing.

Every breath I took sent sharp jagged pain through the front and back of my right thoracic side. It was so painful that I could not manage anything more than short, shallow breaths.

I am a trained stress rescue scuba diver so I was mentally telling myself not to panic, because if I added panic into the mix my lack of oxygen would cause me to black out. Aannsha brought out several muscle relief remedies and applied them topically. They did nothing to ease the spasming pain. After 30 minutes I knew that I had to get to hospital to at the very minimum get oxygen to aid my breathing.

Government run hospital

At 23:00 hours we took a taxi to the local government run hospital in Finike and the driver listening to my every pain inducing intake of breath actually ran three red lights to get us there as soon as possible.

Once we were at the A & E I was ushered to a triage bed. The staff were all over me in an instant. I was just glad to be laying down and hoping that something they did would stop the stabbing pain and allow me to breathe normally.

Initially my symptoms presented as a cardiac event so they hooked me up to a heart monitor, gave me an ECG, an angiogram, an MRI, took several blood samples and injected me with morphine and several other solutions.

Movement to the various departments for testing became a trial of pain and a continuation of not being able to breathe deep enough to get enough air into my lungs to get enough oxygen to my body. I thought I was going to suffocate.

Once all the tests were done and I was back at the triage bed and hooked into the morphine drip I thought that the pain would be dulled and subside. Throughout my life I'd heard so many stories about the morphine induced high from other people who'd had it in hospital that I was relishing the relief. It didn't come.

It seems that because of the wine that I drink nightly my cytochrome P450 enzyme has become over excited, so the morphine had no effect. Life lesson, overdoing alcohol will bite you in more ways than you can imagine.

At 04:00 hours the doctor overseeing my situation asked how the pain was. I replied that it was exactly the same. She looked perplexed and instructed a nurse to inject morphine directly into my buttock near to the pain area. That made a difference. The muscle pain and spasms reduced by at least 50% and I was at last able to breathe enough with each intake of air that I didn't feel like I was going to suffocate.

At 05:00 hours the doctor discharged me with a script for painkillers and anti-inflammatory pills and recommended that I should consult with a cardiologist because the angiogram and MRI suggested that I had an enlarged heart. That's not something you want you hear just a week after your 59th birthday.

One week later

The last time I visited a doctor was over a decade ago. I generally don't make a fuss over medical stuff as you can see if you watch this video of me getting my hand impaled by a bolt whilst installing a new anchor to A B Sea. This event and the doctor's observations shook me so much that after a week of taking the prescribed pills and taking it easy I decided to take the doctors advice and see a cardiologist.

Our doctor in Kaş put us in touch with the private hospital in Kumluca, the next big town along the coast from Finike. We hired a car and drove there for my 10:00 hours appointment. We were met by Ali who is the foreign persons liaison manager at the hospital and he literally stayed with us the whole time. He organised that I was first seen by an internal medicine physician and then a cardiologist. Translating via Ali the internal medicine physician concluded that the muscle spasming was caused by RSI (repetitive stress injury) due to my spending too many hours working at my laptop each day. No further action was needed.

The cardiologist consulted via Ali translating, did a heart ultrasound, an EKG, a heart stress test and several blood pressure tests. He concluded that everything was normal but wanted me to wear a mobile blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. We returned to the hospital the following day and my blood pressure was declared within normal ranges.

The cost

The fee for all of the tests and care at the government run hospital in Finike was 919.58 TL (AU$94).

The fee for all of the tests and the care at the privately run hospital in Kumluca was 2,240 TL (AU$225). Unbelievable value and all done at a moment's notice.

As I write this blog 16 days after the event I still have a dull ache in a mid level muscle on the right hand side of my back. Instead of being an 11 it is now down to a 2 on the pain meter. I am off the painkillers and anti-inflammatory pills and I am pushing myself to get out into the fresh air and just walk around each day away from the laptop.

As one friend said, who came by to ask how I was going, this whole getting old shit really sucks.

Until next week stay safe and healthy.

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