Regular readers will be aware that big things are going on in my world right now…and they are sort of wrapped up in each other too…firstly I am deploying to Afghanistan (hereafter known as The ‘Stan) in the new year, and secondly I have been diagnosed with High Blood Pressure.
Now you would imagine that the second would prevent the first from happening, and that the first might have had an effect on the second! Who knows? I certainly don’t…
But as part of the investigation about the high BP, I had to have an exercise based ECG – where I was wired up to the machine and had to ‘run’. It wasn’t hard, and I only actually ran for about 20 seconds, having maxed out their machine both in terms of how fast it was programmed to go and in how high the incline on the treadmill was set. I was hardly out of breath, and felt fine as a result of the ‘exercise’
Sorry, I’m using inverted commas because it was like a Saturday afternoon stroll through a shopping centre to me not actual exercise – and I’m not blowing my own trumpet or being arrogant here – it’s just I am used to exercise being harder than that. But then, the normal sort of people who attend a ‘Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic’ don’t tend to be members of the armed forces in their early 40’s…with a 32″ waist. They tend to be…well, I don’t want to insult anyone, so I’ll leave that to your own imagination.
Anyway. As I said I maxed out the test machine and felt fine, however the ECG trace was all messed up – being upside-down and back to front – indicating a problem. This problem is called a Left Bundle Branch Block and is essentially that my heart has re-wired itself wrongly somehow and the electrical impulses to fire the muscles in the heart go off in the wrong order. A short circuit.
There could be many reasons for this, it could just be that that is is how my heart is wired anyway or may indicate a ‘problem’ with the heart itself. It all means that I need more tests. With the word ‘Angina’ mentioned.
But then there’s the OTHER big thing in my life to think about. The deployment.
You see. I really want to go. I wasn’t ‘jaffed’ for it, I asked for it. I want to go. I volunteered.
And then I find my crappy heart starts playing up. When I went onto the tablets for the High BP, I asked the doc if it would affect my deployment.
‘Noooooo’ he said. ‘As long as you take the tablets your BP is in check so just take a load of tablets out there with you and you’ll be fine.’
But now…with ‘something wrong’ involved as well…well the ability to be deployed is a completely different matter.
So, I went along to see the doc this morning and asked all the awkward questions that had come up in my mind since I had the tests and the LBBB (Left Bundle Branch Block) was mentioned. But the most important one was – ‘Can I still go to The ‘Stan?’
To this he stopped and steepled his fingers. ‘You’re not going anywhere until Novemeber-ish anyway, and that is only for training courses. I am not the best person to speak about possible cardiac interventions that they might have – Christ medicine has come on in leaps and bounds since I was taught medicine 20 years ago – so I don’t want to say anything about treatment for anything they might find at this stage. But I do note that the Consultant at the Hospital has appended a note saying that he doesn’t think there is any angina.’
I visible relaxed at this stage. I might have smiled.
‘But’ he continued, ‘You are certainly not out of the woods yet, and we need you to undertake the further tests. However, as a result of that I am not going to pull you from the deployment.’
Again, I smiled. ‘Good, ‘cos I want to go.’
‘Good for you. So it’s playing the waiting game again now until you do the tests and we get the results…’
The good news is that he hasn’t pulled my deployment. The bad news is that he might still have to in the future.
But in the meantime, I am still going. Thankfully. Cos I really want to go. I want to ‘do’ something. I know that I can contribute something out there in The ‘Stan and I also know that I will get a lot out of it myself.
Not least a bit of piece of mind. You see I feel I have unfinished business with war and conflict and all that stuff…I feel like I haven’t contributed over the past 10 years or so. Others have given so much, done so much, and I feel that (through postings and jobs and suchlike) that I haven’t. It makes me feel a fraud.
I can get discount for being in the military at my local ATS. I got a discount for being in the RAF when I bought my MacBook from Apple. I got 20% off my RAC membership because of the service connection. But, unlike so many, I don’t feel like I have earned it.
People say to me quite often (particularly on Twitter) thanks for what you do, etc, etc, and I say thank you, but I still feel like a cheat. I haven’t done anything to deserve that yet. Others have, but not me. Not really, not properly.
So I fully intend to do all I can to make sure my dicky-ticker is sorted so I can go.
Because I so want too. If my deployment is pulled I will be gutted. Completely gutted. I want to go to do a job out there helping the Afghan civilians rebuild their country. And I want to go there to give me a bit more self-respect and to make me proud of me again.