"You're going to the Doctors when we get home!" Janet said
looking at me holding my chest. It was the second time we had to stop
to relieve the pain. We had only gone a couple of hundred yards. "It's
not right and you know it!" Janet said looking at my face for
"I think its probably broken heart syndrome." I teased her.
"Look well if you wake up dead one morning." Janet said.
I could tell she was irritated at having to stop; she spotted a souvenir
shop to her left. "I'll just have a look in there until you come
round." she said.
"Okay my sweet, I'll wait for you in that bar across." I
pointed to a bar opposite.
"Right, do you think you can make it?" she said sarcastically
and moved off.
We were on holiday on the Caribbean Island of Antigua.
We were always on holiday at least seven or eight times a year. Janet
loved the sun. I liked to see it through the bar window. But we both
loved the excitement of exotic places. Janet would lie out in the
sun whatever the temperature might be. I would wave to her from the
shade. "Fancy another?" I would shout waving a glass at
I'd been getting chest pains for two years now and they were getting
worse. "You've got a strain." Dr Graham said. "Actually
you have a big heart and an unusually powerful one, and," he
turned to Janet. "Make sure you take these twice a day."
as he handed her a prescription.
"Cut all his fried foods out and lower his salt intake. Just
as a precaution." He then turned to me, "cut the booze intake
down Bill, and go on the shorts for a while. You're getting too much
volume." Graham was just as much a friend as he was a Doctor.
That was six weeks ago.
"Nowt in there!" Janet said sitting on a bar stool at the
side of me.
"Just the usual junk eh?" I said nodding to the barman.
"As you would put it love, 'Absolute Rip Rap.'"
I tut tutted and ordered the booze.
"Are you alright now?" she asked.
"Yeah, spot on sweetheart! But I'll tell you something it ain't
no strain. I've had enough strains to know that a strain doesn't last
"Well, it's the Doctors as soon as we get back."
"Cheers!" I said, "and I mean it." She stared
Back home in dear old Blighty (I coined the phrase from the old English
war films) we traipsed into Dr Graham's office.
"Hey man. How's de West Indies man?" Dr Graham said standing
up; I did my West Indian walk.
"Cool Man! Cool." I said slapping hands.
"I see you've brought one back with you." He said referring
to Janet's suntan.
"I couldn't get rid of the chick." I said. Janet sat down
on a seat he offered. She forced a smile. We'd been in ten minutes
and talked about everything except what we came for. Then Graham looked
at both of us.
"What can I do for you two?" He asked.
"Its him, he's not right." Janet said. Graham laughed.
"Well we've known that for a long time, haven't we Janet?"
He tried to sound sympathetic. We all had a laugh and Janet told him
of the last episode in Antigua.
"You should have come sooner!" He said seriously.
"I couldn't I was poorly!" I said. We all laughed again.
"I'm going to arrange for you to have a C E G at St Luke's Hospital.
We'll soon find out if there's anything wrong. Is that okay Janet?"
"Yes, when?" She said. Graham picked up the phone and rabbited
on for a minute. "Tomorrow! 2 o'clock okay?"
"Yes. He'll be there!" Janet said forcing another smile.
I parked illegally as usual. As we walked into the hospital I said.
"If there's any messing about or waiting for hours I'm off!"
"They can't run a hospital just for your convenience and this
is a very serious matter, so just for once give it a try. It may save
your life." Janet said.
"Save my life?" I mocked. "Just look at the state of
the Doctors!" I pointed to an old guy stood in his wellies (rubber
boots) with a pair of shears in his hand.
"Leave the Gardeners out of it, just sit down while I go to Reception."
She returned with a smug look on her face. "You have to go to
Room 6 right away. They're doing you now." She cocked her head
in a 'I told you so!' look.
"Okay." I said, "Sit down and behave yourself. No singing
or swinging from the Chandeliers and don't take sweets from strange
"Scram, hurry up. Room 6. They're waiting." She said pointing
A young nurse around twenty-five answered the door. "Mr Gillespie?"
"Come in." She closed the door behind me and then fiddled
with some cards. She turned and smiled.
"What I'm going to do is wire you up to this machine and take
some readings of your heart function. Okay?"
"Does it hurt?" I pretended to be apprehensive.
"No. I can assure you its painless." She smiled.
"Right, take your clothes off and lie on the bed please."
I pretended to be offended.
"Why, I don't even know you, I'm a married man, angel."
"You may leave your trousers on but your shoes and socks will
have to be removed." She said, fiddling with the machine and
I lay there as she taped around fourteen discs to my chest and feet.
The machine sprang to life; she peered into it and ordered me to relax.
"I am relaxing," I said
"You're not relaxing enough. You're too tense for me to get a
reading. It may help if you closed your eyes."
"What? Half naked, on a bed, alone in a room with a woman. I
don't even know you." Okay, just joking." I closed my eyes
A few minutes later, "All done Mr Gillespie!" The nurse
started to remove the discs.
"Oh, what a shame I was really comfortable. I could have had
an hours kip."
She forced a smile. "You can get dressed now. Your results will
be forwarded to your own GP in about a week." I watched her pencilling
comments and ticking squares, as I got dressed.
"What are the results?" I asked as I picked up my coat.
"I'm not allowed to say, its up to your Doctor to tell you. I'm
sorry!" She said. She sounded apologetic.
I peeped over her shoulder as I went to the door; she covered them
quickly with her hand.
"Hey you're not supposed to see them." She said. She was
smiling. I knew they weren't bad.
"Well, I'd like to thank you for your service you're very efficient."
I paused for a second as I opened the door and turned to face her.
"They're good results aren't they ? " I asked. She just
"I'm not allowed to comment.
"Thank you." I said. I grinned, nodded, and walked out.
I told Janet what had
happened, but she wasn't satisfied. "Well how come you still
get the pains if there's nothing wrong?" She argued.
Two weeks later we were
standing in one of the bars we owned. Janet called a barmaid friend
"Dot, do you know what he wants me to do?" Dot glanced at
me then back to Janet.
"Tell me, you won't surprise me." Dot said.
"He wants me to go to the Doctors and get his results for the
Angina test, mind you. That's while he stands here boozing."
Janet tried to sound disgusted.
"I have one at home just the same. Get him in the bar and there
is no moving him. Go with her you idle git." She said to me,
as she moved off to serve a daytime reveller.
"Is she allowed to talk to her boss like that?" I pretended
to be offended.
"Yes, she is." Dot shouted over her shoulder, while pulling
a pint of beer. I turned to face Janet and pretended to be hurt. "And
you! I thought you loved me. What happened to all that honour and
obey stuff? Yeah, soon as you got that ring on your finger, that lot
blew away didn't it?" Janet picked up my beer and pushed it to
my lips. "Drink!" She ordered.
We sat down in Dr Graham's consulting surgery. It was the usual, we
talked about property and holidays for a while, and then Janet dropped
her handbag on purpose. "Oh, I'm sorry Janet" Dr Graham
said, "What can I do for you?"
"We came for Bill's results from his tests." She said.
"Oh yes, he tapped a few keys on his computer. " Ooh!"
He said in a low voice. "Ooh!" he changed it to a high key
and then he went "Ooh, woo, woo." In a higher key. He swivelled
his chair round to me, with a deadpan look he glanced at Janet and
then back to me. "You're alright." He said waiting for my
I laughed with relief. "I told you I was okay Jan." I was
smiling and nodding to her.
Janet's face was deadpan. "Why is he getting these pains? And
why are they getting worse?" She asked. He looked Janet in the
"Quite frankly I don't know! But there is one test that could
tell us conclusively and that's a small operation called an angiogram."
"He'll have it." Janet said.
"Hang on" I said. "Would you consultants mind consulting
Dr Graham swivelled in his chair towards me. "All it involves
is a cut into your main artery in your groin. Then they insert a tube
into it right up to your heart, spray liquid into it. And that shows
any blockages up on a screen. Its quite simple really."
Janet laughed at the thought of me getting it.
"Sounds painful." I said wincing.
"No, its not. Do you want to go private Janet?" He asked.
"Yes" She nodded.
He picked up the phone and asked the receptionist if she could get
him a Dr.M at a local private clinic.
"It will set your mind at rest Janet!" He said assuringly.
The phone rang and he answered it, "Tomorrow at 2 o'clock okay?"
"Yes!" We both agreed.
"Right, its on!" he said replacing the receiver.
"That was quick," I said.
"Yes it is when your paying for it." Dr Graham said apologizing
for no reason.
We arrived at the clinic,
eventually shown into Dr M's consulting room, and after the usual
introductions we sat down.
"Did Dr Graham explain the procedure?" He asked.
"Yes, more or less!" I said.
"Right, have a look at this." He said and passed me a diagram
of the heart in vivid colour. "Do you understand any of this?"
"Yes I do. I'm familiar with its workings and function and all
that!" I said.
He leaned over his desk and pointed to where the blockages usually
occur. I nodded. "Now if you would like to remove your jacket
and loosen your tie." He played around with the stethoscope for
a couple of minutes. "Okay get dressed Mr Gillespie when would
you like it done?" He said returning to his seat.
I shrugged my shoulders and looked at Jan, "Soon as possible!"
Jan said. I can do you tomorrow or Thursday," He said.
I was a bit surprised and so was Jan at how fast things were moving.
"Tomorrow then!" I said.
"That's fine, I'll see you at the main private hospital at ten
in the morning, is that okay?"
Jan and I nodded.
"My nurses need to carry out a few tests before you go."
He turned to his secretary who was busy writing notes, "Could
you arrange it Miss B?"
They wired me up in a separate room and worked me on the treadmill.
I pissed about as usual pretending to shout abuse at passing motorists.
Janet was glad to get me out of there.
We arrived next morning and were shown to my private room. Janet hung
my dressing gown and pyjamas up, "Where did you get the pyjamas
from?" I asked.
"You've had 'em years!" She said "Now don't be showing
No sooner had I kissed
Jan bye, bye, then I was lying on a trolley outside the operating
"How are you feeling Mr Gillespie?" Dr M broke my concentration
on a fluorescent fitting.
"Oh great, top of the world." I answered.
" Do you need a pill to relax you or are you relaxed enough?"
"Oh, I'm relaxed enough, lets get this show on the road!"
I said trying to instil confidence in him.
"Wheel him in Nurse." He said smiling.
(c) William Gillespie
OF PART ONE
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