My Trip to the Hospital
by, 02-02-2012 at 10:12 AM (7515 Views)
I want to thank everyone for their very kind comments and well wishes. I had no idea just how uplifting it could be to know that so many are in your corner! I suspect the true meaning was to keep me from haunting anyone () but I'll take what I can get!
As I read through the posts last night, I was struck by the accuracy of Helene's reportage! She related pretty much everything I wanted her to, including my inaccuracies. This little missive is to set the record straight. Remember, ANY inaccuracies Helene posted were MY fault!
This is what happened, starting at around 8:00 a.m. January 30th ...
It was a dark and stormy night...
Oh. Wait. THATS a different story! Did anyone think I was going to be COMPLETELY serious? Anyway, I was sitting at my desk in the office when I felt the onset of a cardiac episode.
What is a "cardiac episode"? In my case, the sensations are as follows. VERY severe pressure on the chest, picture Fat Lady singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" type of pressure, tunnel vision causing the entire room to shrink to the size of a 16 oz tea glass and then beginning to lose consciousness. To be a true cardiac episode, all of this has to take place within 30 or 40 SECONDS, not an extended nights drinking!
Welcome to MY world! I would usually have minor episodes that did not involve unconsciousness several times a day. I NEVER had more than 1 severe episode a day, until January 30th, 2012. THAT is what triggered a call to my Doctor. HIS advice? RUN, not walk, to the nearest emergency room!
Since I didn't like the nearest emergency room, I prepared for the 40 minute drive to Greensboro. I know some of you are thinking that I was nuts to take the chance on a 40 minute drive instead of 10 minutes, but I AM still here! THAT speaks for itself. So THERE!
Anyway, when I got to Moses Cone Hospital, I was admitted (eventually) and scheduled for the Cath Lab the next morning. The belief was that I would probably need a ballon angioplasty to open an artery, or perhaps something to dissolve a blood clot. No big deal.
The best laid plans of Mice and Men...
The next morning, I was prepped and taken to the Cath Lab where the all the fun was to take place. FUN. That word has so many connotations. In this case, FUN means staying awake and alert while a wire is inserted into your artery and pushed to your heart where a dye is injected to show any blockages, such as plaque or blood clot. WHOOPIE! NO BLOCKAGES!!
So what the hell was causing the problem?
Right in the middle of the procedure, my heart dropped out! It just stopped! I flatlined. Lets just pause for a moment.
Helene reported this as a "Heart Attack" because thats what I told her it was. To be strictly accurate, a "heart attack" involves the release of certain enzymes into the blood stream resulting from the death of heart cells. So I did NOT have a "heart attack" on the table. I had what is called an "event".
An "event" is what happens to someone else, a "heart attack" is what happens to YOU!
A football game is an "event". The SuperBowl is a "Heart Attack"!
Anyway, while I was watching my "event" unfold, I was struck by the surprise and concern of the medical staff! I tried to reassure them that this kind of thing happened to me all the time. Hell, I was used to it!
It turned out that THIS was exactly what they needed to properly diagnose my problem.
Here is more medical stuff. Everyone has a nerve that runs from the top of the heart to the bottom. This nerve transmits a signal that lets the top and bottom of the heart stay synchronized so after the top has closed, the bottom can open. In MY case, my heart is like an old married couple. They could not agree on a damn thing! A large part of the time, the top part would beat furiously while the bottom part of my heart had a largely lackadaisical attitude towards a career path!
So, here I am, in the Cath Lab and we have just figured out that I needed a pace maker. I am taking some of the credit here since it was MY HEART that helped to solve the mystery!
Lets fast forward to later on the same day.
Did you know that a pacemaker is considered a MINOR procedure now? Me neither.
Here I am, in the Cath Lab, all dressed up and no place to go!
They are pumping oxygen into me, I am loaded with the joy juice, but I am awake and semi alert. The "minor" procedure starts. An incision is made in my shoulder that is about 4 inches long and the leads for the pacemaker are inserted through the artery into the heart. The pacemaker is next. PAUSE.
REMEMBER THIS PART! I saw the pacemaker. It is about the size of a silver dollar and about as thick as 2 silver dollars.
Hit PLAY again.
The leads are in place, I am awake and cracking jokes with the staff that are willing to listen to me when all of a sudden, another "event"! What makes this event special is that I was NOT hooked up to the pacemaker. My heart had to be "paced" externally. What is the difference you ask? The pacemaker is like a very small sip of Rothschilde '58 wafting lightly across the tongue. External pacing is like slamming back shots of rotgut while chewing on rat jerky. A subtle, but noticeable difference!
The pain was incredible! I went instantly from comfortably buzzed to INSTANTLY sober and feeling every fiber of my heart screaming out! I had to be paced about 12 or 13 times before my heart would beat on its own, every pace taking about a year to pass! (I KNOW it didn't take a year, but its MY story! This is called Poetic License!)
After this, it didn't matter how much joy juice was pumped into me. The adrenalin pretty well countered that!
Technically, I had flatlined.
After this "event" was controlled, everything went pretty smoothly after that. I do have one question though.
I saw the pacemaker. I have described its size with some accuracy. Why then does it feel like someone has stuck the spare tire from a Peterbuilt in my shoulder?
Thats pretty much my story. I am at home and unable to sleep because I had to thank all of my friends here. You also tell your friends everything that happened.
If you have any questions, just ask.
Hell, you might even get an answer!
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