Earlier this year, after a period of deteriorating health, much to her surprise Agnes was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and advanced heart failure. After a period of treatment on the mainland she returned home and is now under the supervision of the Heart Failure team in Stornoway.
This is her story………..
I have a new friend called Florence. As behoves us in these days of social media we contact each other by text only – the modern equivalent of a pen friend I suppose.
Debra Vickers, the lead local heart failure nurse, who correctly thought we’d get on famously, introduced Flossie or Flo as she prefers to be called. Although I call her a nag and bossy (Flossie not Debra) in fact [for the time being I’m] quite dependent on her though her persistent texting early in the morning drives me mad. If I haven’t replied within an hour or so she texts me to tell me I haven’t texted her back!! See what I mean about being bossy and a nag.
It must seem weird then that Flo helps to keep me healthy and in fact helps to keep my blood pressure in check. This is even more peculiar because she’s a machine, in fact she’s just a phone!
In order to improve my heart function, my blood pressure, heart rate and fluid intake need to be carefully monitored and the easiest way to check that this is within normal limits is to check my blood pressure and weight every day. This is where Flo comes in. I simply text these measurements in daily. If I don’t Flo soon reminds me.
“She is a nagging old cow, but she is really important to me”
The huge benefits of the system are that I’m reassured that any glitch will be noted immediately by the HF team without me having to run around, increasingly stressed, trying to make appointments. The other benefit is that having to record and report the measurements daily gives me complete control and motivates me to comply with the treatment. It also means that the temptation to cheat is removed.
“I like the reassurance of checking my BP when I increase the dose of my drugs.”
When I go to clinic the information has been downloaded onto my record and visible in graph form which is so helpful to the clinician and me in viewing my progress and seeing it at a glance instead of rifling through charts and written records.
“It is important…Although it belongs to me, it is between us”
An unexpected outcome from my ill-health was weight loss with a consequent reduction of two dress sizes, which of course required a new wardrobe when I got better. Reporting to Bossy Flossie daily allows me to ensure that healthy eating has become my new norm, mostly!!! No more ‘dieting’.
Despite her nagging I love Florence and hope the system is extended to many more services. As much as I sometimes criticise NHS Western Isles they are undeniably good at adopting the latest technologies to the great benefit of patients.