As some of you already know, thanks to my first wife posting on Facebook, I had an adventurous Thursday. It all began at Jack’s house, where I was helping him put up sheet rock. It was only my second day on the job and I was just standing there, minding my own business when I had one of my tachycardia events. I’ve been having those things for years and find them to be non-threatening because they don’t hurt. My heart just flutters a little. They started while I was in the Navy and the doc then told me that I was having PVC’s, which everyone knows is plastic pipe used for in ground sprinklers and others tasks for moving water. That’s now. Back then there was no PVC piping so it was evident the doctor meant Premature Ventricular Contractions. I was told my PVC events were happening only every 5th beat of my heart and they only worry about it when it’s every 3rd beat. When they happen I feel like I’m raising up, like a floaty sensation. It’s brief, and a couple of deep breaths brings everything back to normal.
So, it’s nothing new. On Thursday, however, I think my PVC’s, which hadn’t happened for a long time, decided to catch up a little and hammered me with, maybe every other beat. It was amazing! For about 5 seconds, it felt like my heart was beating on the walls, trying escape, not that little flutter letting me know it was there. Plus, instead of the floaty feeling it was evident that I wasn’t going to maintain my current vertical position as my vision went dark and I started to fall. It was definitely as sinking feeling. Fortunately, there was a stool next to me and I was able to guide myself to a sitting position. As soon as I sat down everything went back to normal. Freaky!
We went back to work and hung another sheet of sheet rock before I could no longer disregard the analytics my mind was providing of possible side effects of what happened. Like a tingly sensation on the left side of my neck, and possible pain in my left arm pit. Stuff like that. The arm pain was difficult to analyze because of my torn rotator cuffs, so there was some discussion inside my head as to what was always there vs. what was new.
I decided that the only way to resolve the discussion was to take a trip to urgent care in St. Helens and see what they thought. Wynette wanted to drive me but I declined because I had my old truck at their house and was concerned about transportation back once I was done at urgent care.
Let me tell you, right now, that going to urgent care with my set of symptoms is the totally wrong thing to do. They took me into their care, getting me right in to a room, stuck a bunch of probes on my body, inserted an IV cath in my left arm, all the while scolding me for not calling 911 instead of driving all the way back to St. Helens from Scappoose which is 8 miles further away from the hospital they were going to send me to. Whew! It was all done in a nice, concerned way, but I got it from every one of them. I tried to explain that I’ve ALWAYS driven myself to Urgent Care in the past for mishaps and they said, “But those times you were bleeding, and we can fix that. We can’t fix hearts!”
Did I mention that they know me there?
So, as I lay on the gurney, waiting for the ambulance, I called the Columbia County Courthouse where Diane was due in court to face spousal abuse charges … that’s a lie. She was there working on the Counting Board for the elections. She does this for every election because they pay her $9 an hour. I tried her cell phone first, knowing she wouldn’t answer because she was working, then I called the County Clerk’s office and asked that they give Diane a message that I was at urgent care waiting to be transported to Emanuel Hospital. I was told to wait, and very soon thereafter Diane was on the phone so I could explain what was going on. I hated interrupting her at work because we can use the extra cash, but I really had no choice. If I had waited until I got to Emanuel it would have been far worse. Believe me. I know stuff like that.
Diane came to Urgent Care and watched Jim and Ken stuff me into the ambulance the drive away. It’ the first time I’ve ever been on an ambulance ride. Jim rode in back while Ken drove and we had a very nice visit on the trip to town. It was almost like we were just going shopping.
In no time at all, it seemed, we were there and my fantasy ride was over. One more thing to check off my bucket list. Jim and Ken placed me into the tender care of a bevy of bright and shiny nurses, PA’s, and a doctor to whom I individually related the story of what happened to me. I had to do this about 4 times and I was beginning to think it was a test to make sure I gave them the same info each time. It was ok, though, because everyone was extremely friendly and it was evident they liked their jobs and had my best interest at heart, no pun intended.
They sucked blood from my IV, sent me to have an X-ray, connected me to an EKG, gave me aspirin and water, made me just lay there while they bustled all around. They were busy all the time, and always smiling. I deemed it my job to ensure they continued to keep smiling. It’s what I do. I didn’t give them grief and did exactly everything I was told. I was a good patient. One of the RN’s, Michelle, told me I was the cleanest and best patient she’d had all day. Made me proud.
Diane was allowed back to sit with me as they worked so we had a chance to visit. She was worried, I know, and I was sorry for that. Jennifer, who was working in Hillsboro, at Nike, left early and showed up to be with me, also. Jeff would have also come, but I talked with him and eased his concern. He got the old truck home for me which was a huge help. I have a good family.
The process had already started to check enzymes in my blood that indicate heart damage and I’d need three of those, 6 hours apart. That meant the last test would be taken around 1 am the next morning. So, they decided that I should just spend the night for observation in one of their ER holding cells adjacent to the main ER area. It’s an observation area of individual small rooms that are nicer than some motels we’ve visited. Diane was initially going to try spending the night in the room’s recliner until it was decided that I wouldn’t be released until after 9 am in the morning. Jennifer was in the room with us and made sure I minded the nurses and doctors and not make a joke of my current situation. She said, “Dad, remember how old you are” more than once, as a way of saying I’m a bit more fragile than I used to be when I swung her in circles, and tossed her into the air.
Yes, the old body is starting to fall apart, I fear, but it’s hard to not make it fun. It happens to us all and we only get to experience it once so why not enjoy it, if possible? I realize there are times when I should be serious, but I have this reputation to maintain, you know? I’m rarely serious about my predicaments.
Soon, I was alone in my holding cell. I had my iPad (thanks to my lovely bride), and a nice big TV on the wall, and a menu. Yes, a menu from which I was to select my dinner. That was an unexpected treat. I thought I would just get what I got and eat it or go hungry. Nope. I had a menu with a stunning array of heart healthy choices for dinner. I chose the rib eye steak, oven roasted potatoes, green beans, raspberry sorbet, orange juice, and a dinner salad. Yes, that’s all true. Here, let me show you.
Pretty snazzy, huh? When the girl came to the door with it she knocked and said, “Room service.” Honest to God. Room service. And it was pretty awesome. I ate every bit of it and almost licked my plates.
Then I watched the Oklahoma Thunder beat San Antonio Spurs to move to the next round of the NBA playoffs. Regarding that, since the Golden State Warriors beat the Portland Trailblazers in 5 games, I’ll be cheering for them. Next round is Stephen Curry (GSW) against Russel Westbrook (OT). Should be fun.
After the game I settled down with my iPad. Thankfully it was charged all the way so figured it should last the night.
My nurse, Arlene, came in to tell me my first enzyme test was negative, which was a good thing. Then she took more blood for the next test. I read and dozed, gave blood and got good news on the last draw, and the cycle repeated throughout the night. Finally, at 0645 Friday morning Arlene told me the last test was also negative and suggested that I order breakfast, which I did. It was a breakfast sandwich of just egg and cheese. No meat. I only ate it down to the part where the eggs were green. I know it was still OK, that the green tinge was from cooking in an aluminum pan, but my head wouldn’t cooperate with my taste buds in the end so I left about half of it because I was suddenly no longer hungry. Then I napped some more.
Diane returned to get me about 0900, and they released me around 1030 with written instructions to not drive or operate dangerous equipment until a final determination could be made for why I had my event. They called it Syncope, or “Near Fainting Experience”. I looked it up. The fact that they actually had a name for it comforted me, knowing other folks do this, too.
Yesterday was Lydia’s last HS softball game for the year and I was happy to be there to cheer her on. She was the starting pitcher and blanked Rex Putman through 4 innings. It was 13-4 when she was relieved and assumed duties at third base. Her relief, Ciara, closed them out in the top of the 5th, and our girls scored in the bottom making it 14-4 and the end of the game using the 10 run rule. Jack and Wynette attended the game, too, so we got to visit and cheer the girls on. The fun continued after the game when we all adjourned Campbell Park and went to McCormick Park for the girls’ end of season party. That’s where the girls play a game against the parents and knock their socks off, until the pizza arrived. It was a lot of totally unorganized fun. Diane and I just sat and watched, enjoying the interactions.
Now I’m on another forced day of rest (Diane said) so mowing the lawn is not an option. I was going to do it yesterday but that was DEFINITELY not going to happen (Diane said). So, I’ll work on that bucket list and check of one more item – this was the first time I’ve ever spent the night in a hospital. It’s not a restful experience, but it was truly interesting to be involved as a participant in the ballet that is a top-notch emergency room. Very impressive stuff.
Thanks to all of you who expressed concern for my welfare. You can relax, now, as I’m about as good as I can get and I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in.