Friday, 4 May 2012

Thankful Thursday: An Eventful Journey

Eventful day or what?  9.30 Wednesday morning UK time (and over an hour from landing at Heathrow)  we had finished breakfast - fresh fruit and yoghurt was my choice (as airline catering goes in my experience Air New Zealand does it well).  Shortly afterwards I felt decidedly odd.  In fact I felt nauseous and decidedly ill.  I decided to retire to the rear of the cabin out of public gaze and near to the cabin crew and toilets and more space and air.  Apparently I looked even worse than I felt and the cabin crew were exceedingly concerned.  By this time I was too unwell to care.  Tash (presumably Natasha) was assigned to take care of me and I was given oxygen.  A potential heart incident was suspected.

When we landed I realised the full extent of their concern when everyone was told to stay seated and a team of para-medics, firemen and police arrived and came up to the rear of the plane.

By this time I was relatively compos mantis and wondered why firemen and police.  Firemen to lift me out above everyone’s heads had it been needed because getting the ambulift in place takes time.  Police because I was travelling alone and next of kin needed to be notified in the event I wasn’t fit to give consent to any procedures and, presumably, in case I was travelling on a non-UK passport or perhaps even a forged one and knew that I'd be bypassing Border Control.  The paramedics were brilliant and within minutes I was hooked up to all the monitoring devices.

I must have been really popular with everyone who thought they were delayed.  In fact the plane had been given priority landing and taxing onto it’s stand so everyone was, in fact, earlier.

Let me say at this stage that how I felt had absolutely nothing to do with food or food poisoning!

I spent the next 4 hours at London's Hillingdon Hospital A & E.  Contrary to what one hears so often about the National Health Service my observations of that particular A & E is that it was run exceptionally well indeed with constant prioritising and re-prioritising taking place.  In my case whilst nothing initially appeared to be happening in any organised way it soon became obvious to me that all the tests were being carried out in a very organised and logically scheduled and efficient manner.  By the end of the 4 hours before I was discharged I had had numerous tests and even the results of the blood tests were available when the doctor paid his final visit.  I won't go into the details of what had happened and caused me to feel so ill but the Doc assured me that there was no medical evidence of any underlying problem (ie that my heart was fine).  What it came down to was that the medical issue was caused by exhaustion and lack of sleep.  That'll teach me!

So today I am exceptionally thankful for:
  • The cabin staff's diagnosis, treatment and attention which undoubtedly prevented a potentially far worse outcome;
  • All that Tash did for me when I was unable to think properly and couldn't have cared less what had happened;
  • The kindness and efficiency of the para-medics, the police officers, the air-crew and the Air New Zealand station manager at LHR;
  • The ambulance crew who looked after me and ensured that all the non-medical things like instructions from the ANZ station manager on what to do when I was discharged and my cabin luggage and things were kept with me;
  • The staff at Hillingdon Hospital's A & E (the biggest I've ever seen) who impressed me greatly.
  • The fact that I'm alive and well.
  • And finally the fact that I didn't have to think about what to write for a Thankful Thursday post this week!
For all of the above this was just one tiny incident in their professional lives.  By now it will have been forgotten.  For me it was slightly more than that.  What has made me feel very humble is that not one of those people with whom I came into contact made me feel anything other than I was their most important concern at that moment.  I will always remember that.


  1. At the risk of sounding ungrateful - the fact that you were the most important thing in their lives for the duration if the event is what they are paid for and what they are trained for.

    However, ther way in which such a task is carried out can, as we all know, range from the 'You're a bloody nuisance but I'll do my duty well' approach to the caring, helpful and sympathetic approach you obviously received. So, very well done all concerned that they not only sorted you out quickly and well but that they did it in such a kind manner.

    My brother's a bit special so I'm awfully grateful that folk took such care of him!

  2. Oh my god... So glad you are ok. Reassured you have improved but hope you are resting. Always scary to be ill alone away from home so really pleased to hear you were so well looked after.

  3. I know you never will Graham - but SLOW UP!
    After a phone call from the Police at Heathrow Airport, I was mighty glad to hear your voice a bit later - that sort of drama we can do without - so very pleased that you were able to be discharged and travel on to Glasgow later that day..
    See you at Stornoway Airport on Sunday.
    Welcome Home. x

  4. Phew! no wonder you feel grateful. How lucky that you were somewhere that people were around to care and act, too. You might have been on a solitary ramble in the mountains, I suppose. I must say that in general I am pretty impressed by emergency services on the thankfully rare occasions I have to deal with them. It sounds as if you are okay now, (and what a relief it's not your heart) but i agree with Spesh 1 - do TAKE IT EASY!!!

    Hope the sight of the weather in Britain doesn't make you feel ill again, or at least wish you'd stayed in NZ for another few weeks. :)

  5. Well, you do have something to be grateful for.
    Take a deep breath and relax. Easy to say, I know. Happy that it was something you could learn a lesson from, and change your busy ways (as much as possible anyway!)
    Slow down (funny that Spesh says Slow UP! But it means the same!)

  6. Oh yes Kay G. We speak the same language but so very differently.
    I have said one or two things to my American friend and she is quick to say "oh no Pat, you cannot say that - it means something very rude to us Americans" Ooops!

  7. What happened to my comment here, I wonder. I'm sure I wrote one, saying something like: So exhaustion and lack of sleep, eh? I didn't dare suggest it! ;) Please do take care of yourself and write the words REST and SLEEP into your busy calendar every now and then. I'm very thankful too that you got such good care from the staff on the plane, and the hospital etc. ♥ to you! /M.

  8. What a traumatic end to your lovely six months in NZ! So very glad you are able to blog about it and are not confined to hospital with a failing heart. Looking forward to your return to Lewis and hearing all about the 'doings' there in your absence.
    Happy you are okay and hope you will be even better tomorrow.

  9. Good grief, GB, that would put me off travelling I think. So glad you got the treatment you deserve from everyone who came to your aid. No doubt the doctors recommended a good rest....enough said.

  10. Goodness, so glad to hear that all ended OK.

    By the way - Eagleton Notes has been given a Liebster Award - looking forward to hearing all about life on Lewis again for the next few months!

  11. Goodness indeed!! I turn my back to blogland for a mere few days, and look what happens!!
    Good job you did not succeed in killing yourself with exhaustion and lack of sleep.
    This post is, by the way, very touching. I shall now go away from the computer and do something else for a while, and have a very good think while I'm at it.

  12. Help! Just been away and this happens! I'm so glad all was well dear Geeb.

  13. I think we are all very happy that you are alive and well. Take care, rest and hydrate!

  14. This is the first time I've stumbled across your blog and quite a read it was. Hoping you're feeling completely refreshed and this little episode hasn't interfered with you ability to enjoy Scotland.
    Oh, and I've always found Air New Zealand to be one of the best airlines out there. So pleased to hear my trust isn't misplaced.