Summer Fun! Part 2

Fast forward seven days. Late morning, Wednesday, June 16. Working on a cup of coffee and enjoying my second cigar of the day while sitting outside. Chest starts getting tight. I’m thinking I’m just freaking myself out. I wait a bit and call the wife. “Can you come get me and take me to the Doctor? I’m sure it’s nothing, but…” ‘V’ pulls in and off we go to the clinic. I’m telling her I’m just having an anxiety attack. No big deal.

Same deal as before at the clinic. Get his co-pay before he passes out… This time though, the Doctor calls an ambulance since my ekg is “indeterminate”. Off to St. Joe ER, but no lights and siren, just a leisurely drive in the back of an ambulance with the wife following in the car.

ER Doc watches my ekg for a couple of hours and has blood taken a couple of times. She sends me to Observation until they decide what they are going to do with me. ‘V’ and I are certain I am going home around 10 p.m., or so. Not so fast… My blood work is still indeterminate so they decide to keep me, at least overnight. Crap! I send ‘V’ home – I tell her I’ll send you a text to let you know what room they tie me down in. Off to the fifth floor where I am greeted by a couple of nurses and a nurse’s assistant. After answering 640 questions I finally get to turn off the lights and close my eyes around 2 a.m.

I don’t really sleep just kind of doze, you know. I meet the day shift nurse ‘A’. I like her, very professional, you (or, at least, I could) can tell she really cares. She has me get out of bed so she can check me over. She asks me if I have any cuts or sores on my backside. Umm, not sure since I can’t see back there… “Okay”, she says, “turn around and hold you gown out in front of you.” She pokes and prods and declares my backside fit for duty, or use, whatever… ‘A’ has me lie back down and says she wants to look at my original wound now not covered in gauze, and the awesome bruise. Again, gown over my head. I’m thinking “Great. More show and tell for the hospital staff.” She gives me my meds and tells me to take a couple of sips of water to get them down. She also hands me a med I don’t recognize and I asked what it was. “Stool softener” she responds. Stool softener? I ask, “Why, when I haven’t had anything to eat, and not much to drink, should I bother with a stool softener?” She smiles and says she can’t suggest I not take meds, but I can decline them. Gosh, I actually made a good choice.

I meet my cardiac doctor shortly after playing show and tell with Nurse ‘A’ Thursday morning, and he tells me my blood work showed elevated levels of a protein that only appears after you have a heart attack, but the levels could just be an anomaly since it’s only been nine days since my original “event”. (I love that term – event…) He tells me he has ordered me on a no food and no water list since he wants to have another heart catheter procedure done to ensure my stent hasn’t moved or another vessel isn’t blocked. “Sure”, I tell him, “but I’m not interested in you performing a fishing expedition, rather than fixing something.” (I keep telling you I am the funniest guy I know! He didn’t even blink.) He says he going to consult with the other cardiac docs in his practice including the one who is on call at the hospital today and the doctor who installed my stent, and he would let me know when, what, and whatever. I am scared! I know what is going to happen this time, and I am scared out of my wits. I wonder if June 17 will be the day I die.

The floor Charge Nurse comes in close to noon, asks me how I’m doing and not to worry and tells me the Heart Catheter Lab folks are on their way to get me. What? Nobody has said a thing? My wife isn’t even here yet – I call her and tell her to head my way, and I was on my way to a fishing expedition.

I’m wheeled into the lab waiting area and three nurses come out to talk to me and tell me what they are going to be doing, and ask me how I am.

I am scared and more than a bit embarrassed to be in this situation. Not to worry, they say. We do this all the time, so no need to be embarrassed. “Well, I don’t do this all the time, so, yes, I can be embarrassed unless you all want to remove all your clothes while you work on me.” They smile politely and say “we will come get you and see you in a few minutes.” Oh yes, they are going to be getting an eyeful… Well, I am back on the moving table (tray, if you prefer), and my three lovely nurses are standing next to me. Gown gently lifted and tucked under my chin. One of the nurses grabs my package and begins shaving away on my left side while carrying on a conversation with the other nurses who are watching. “Great”, I think, “now I have a Mohawk” The nurse wielding the razor tells her friends she is “much more aggressive shaving than they are.” They ignore my mutterings – almost like being home talking to the wife.

The Doctor comes up to me and introduces himself, and explains the procedure. He tells me the possible downside like I’d heard before the stent was installed. (It’s like I had to go into the shop for some non-warranty repairs or something…) I respond to just “do it.” So, he does. No pain this time – no emergency, so the drugs (?) had time to take effect. All done, and my three nurses take over. I can feel them applying pressure – can’t look, “Stay flat on your back. Don’t raise you head. Don’t move your leg.” they say. I look down my nose toward them, and see one take over applying pressure from another, so now, instead of a wrist close to my package, I have fingers resting on me… Sure, don’t move. Whatever… After applying direct pressure on my gauze covered wound for 15 or 20 minutes the nurses pronounce the bleeding stopped. About that time the Doctor tells me he didn’t find any new damage or any issues with my stent. I tell him “Thank you!” So, maybe I won’t die today. Though, I am still scared, and I wonder if this is how I am going to spend the rest of my life. My three lovely nurses wheel me back to my room, and, along the way, explain to me why I need to have my floor nurse place a urine catheter in me. Don’t want to keep that nasty dye in your kidneys longer than you need to, they say. “Great”, I think, “another opportunity to be viewed and abused.”

Back in bed in my room. Nurse ‘A’ comes in and asks how I’m doing. I tell her fine, and then tell her what the cath lab nurses strongly suggested. She says, “So, you want a Foley Catheter?” (I am so embarrassed, and I tell her so. She ignores me. She understands I’m being this way because I am scared.) Do I want one? “No, but based on how uncomfortable I was without one last week, you had better install one.” (There we go with another installation…) She raises my bed a bit so she can get to me easier. (She, like the flight nurse, isn’t much bigger than a sneeze.) Gown up over my head, exposing my new gauze covered wound, old wound, awesome bruise, and new Mohawk haircut. She grabs me and begins explaining what she is doing at every step of the way. (Me, I’m trying not to embarrass myself with any changes in direction or length of my package. I am not used to any female holding me and moving their fingers about me who isn’t my wife! Success, no embarrassment, barely!) “Okay, now for the placement of the catheter. Breathe in and out, slowly, five times, please. I am going to start inserting the tubing into your bladder on the fifth exhale, so just keep breathing slowly.” I begin breathing. On the fifth exhale I feel her trying to insert a six inch fire hose down my package. It is decidedly uncomfortable! I am trying not to squirm, raise my head or move enough to break open my gauze covered wound. Then, relief. She warns me that when the night nurse removes the catheter in the early evening, it will be uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as it will be the first time I need to urinate once it’s out. (She was right!) Near the end of Nurse ‘A’s shift, I thanked her for her care, concern, and dealing with my fear and embarrassment. I was in tears before I finished. She was awesome! The rest of the evening was uneventful save the occasional screaming emanating from my room whenever I needed to go potty.

Friday morning, and not only was I glad to see my cardiologist, ‘A’ was my nurse again! “So, what time do I get to go home?” I asked. Well, he hasn’t decided if I am going to leave that day or Saturday; although, he was leaning for Friday afternoon. I asked if I could take a shower. The answer was no. He would allow a hand towel bath but only if I had help. Oh, joy, another opportunity to exercise self-control… I expressed my joy at seeing her (‘A’) again and informed her of what the doctor had said regarding my shower. She said she’d take care of it. “Hi, I’m ‘J’, and I am your nurse assistant, and I’ll be helping you take a bath today, Mr. H.” Great, 25 maybe, blonde, extraordinarily good looking. Oh, I’m going to have difficulty not showing her more than she really wants to see, I am sure… I tell her, “Bet you weren’t expecting to be bathing a 56 year old fat man, were you?” She giggles and says it doesn’t matter. Just part of her job. Me? I’m trying not to poke her in the eye… I get to go home later that day, but before I do, the rest of the morning and early afternoon is spent with folks coming and going and inspecting my gauze covered wound, awesome bruise, and Mohawk haircut. On my way out of the hospital, I tell ‘A’ Thank You! I also tell her she is an Angel, my Angel!

Our friend, ‘T’ comes over a couple of weeks after I get home to see how I am and how ‘V’ is after this ordeal. I ask ‘T’, if she’d like to see my awesome bruise. She says, “Sure”. I move my towel around so she can see this awesome bruise. Her hand flies to her mouth and she exclaims “Oh, ‘B’!” I look at her and wonder why she is so pale and swaying on her feet. She sits down, hand held at the base of her throat looking at me like I’m some sort of monster or something. Welcome home…

I have not had to go back to the hospital (knock on wood!) since the June 16th “event”. I am most impressed with all of the people I encountered during both visits – Kaiser clinic, EMTs, ER staff, St. Joe floor nurses and staff, Heart Catheter Lab staff, everyone! I get a bit emotional when I think of or talk about the nurses, doctors, assistants, medics, etc., I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with during those six days. My life has been irrevocably changed by my twin heart “events”. I am still emotional but not like I was in the immediate aftermath. Those professionals I was involved with had a tremendously positive impact on me, and I will be forever grateful to them for giving me back my life – twice!

It seems so inadequate to just say Thank you to someone for saving your life, but, until I can think of a better way of expressing myself: Thank you, all of you, who played a part in giving me my life back – twice!

Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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