Notes from the Road,
the roads of Ukraine.
Dateline: 14 October 2015
The internet is a scary place when you’re tracking your own illness. Especially if you're in the back of beyond.
After suffering three days of acute dizzy spells I was convinced I was in a state of pre-stroke and heart failure. I’m sixty-nine and half years old, I have diabetes and COPD and still smoke – a prime candidate for a premature visit to the bike-shed in sky.<
Being sensible, for once, I cut short my trip of 10,000 miles and rode to Kiev from whence I flew to the UK to consult with my Doctor. My Ukrainian friends agreed that if you’re going to be ill and need intensive treatment better to seek the UK’s National Health Service than the kindly ministrations of Ukraine’s medical system
I saw the Doctor on Tuesday morning; he immediately sent me to the hospital for an ECG and blood tests. The results were in on Thursday and I arrived in the afternoon mentally prepared for the worst case scenario – a specific time left to live (I’d rather not know), immediate and permanent cessation of smoking and the worst of all – you must not ride a motorcycle again. Ever.
I sat next to the Doctor as he reviewed blood results and ECG report on his screen.
“Hmmm,” he said in a puzzled Doctorish way.
“From your results there is nothing wrong. Your heart is fine, diabetes is under control, your heartbeat is a little slow, but nothing is wrong.”
But, I am inwardly pleading, what about having to hold onto the bed when I’m laying down? Or lurching like a drunk when I stand up.
“Let me take your blood pressure again.” Which he did. And then said, “Stand up please” and took my blood pressure again. The room whirled and I had to sit again.
“Ah,” he said. “Postural Hypotension”
“When you move quickly in a perpendicular or horizontal fashion your blood pressure changes and you brain is affected.”
So is this the stroke precursor? Am I destined to lurch through the rest of my limited life? Is there a cure?
He said, “Drink a glass of water every waking hour for two weeks. And eat four regular meals a day”
Drink fucking what? I am at death’s door with two legs already inside and he says drink a glass of water?
My brain uncurdles a little and I listen. “It is likely,” says the Sage, “that you have not been drinking enough water in very hot conditions, or eating properly on your journey. This has caused a drop in blood pressure and dizzy spells are the result.”
So I am to live. And recover.
Moral? Drink more water. And never mind the need to pee.