Yes, I’ve been away for a while. Partly working hard at getting the office organized and making a functional to-do list (which is really just a honey-do list pointed at yourself). But also partly lying in a hospital bed for two days being tortured by doctors and nurses.
What? Lying in a hospital bed? What happened?
Well, we don’t really know. Woke up at 2am Sunday with wierd chest pains, numb fingers, dizziness, nausea and disorientation. Any one of those things alone I can handle. All at once makes a man nervous (and makes him cry like a little girl). And scare the shit out of your poor wife and kids.
Long story short, I got my first ever ride in an ambulance, my first ever overnight in a hospital room, and my first ever chest x-ray, stress test, cardiologist consult, and offer of a bedpan (turned it down thank you very much – if I ain’t dead, I can walk to the bathroom).
All tests came back negative — meaning no evidence of a “cardiac event”. Chest pain? Likely musulo-skeletal, a strain or cramp. Numb fingers? Maybe laid on my arm wrong. Dizziness? Probably low blood pressure, cause unknown, but no sign of low blood sugar. Just lucky me they all happened at the same time. Ain’t coincidence a blast?
Here’s the wierd part… my heart rate was in the 40’s. Dipped a few times to around 39. They kept asking me if I was a triathlete, an avid runner, a hardcore worker-outter. Nope, definitely not… I do my reasonable best to hit the gym but I am an avowed sitter-downer.
So why the slow heart rate? We’re still trying to figure that out – and whether that’s what contributed to my dizziness. I’m on a heart monitor now (I look like I’m wearing a beeper – so sexy hight tech – that’s got wires running to sensors on my chest). I feel like a cyborg. Sort of.
Things I learned:
- It’s simply not possible to sleep well in a hospital, particularly when the old guy on one side of you is deaf (“I SAID WE’RE GOING TO TAKE A BLOOD SAMPLE, MR. SMITH!” “WHAT?” “A BLOOD SAMPLE!” “I REMEMBER THE FLOOD!”) and the old guy on the other side of you is delusional and doesn’t know why he’s there (“HEY! LET ME OUT OF HERE! I HAVE TO GO HOME!” “YOU HAVE TO STAY HERE, MR. JONES! YOU’RE IN THE HOSPITAL! YOU’VE HAD AN OPERATION!” “WHAT?” “YOU’VE HAD AN OPERATION!” “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? UNTIE ME!”).
- Most of your time in the hospital is spent waiting. Blood test at 5am? Doctor will have time to review them after dinner. Doctor says you need a stress test. He’ll be available in 12 hours. In the meantime, just lie here in this noisy room and watch Judge Judy. Where am I, GITMO?
- You must be your own project manager. So many rotations of nurses, things get forgotten. “Hey, wasn’t I supposed to get a blood thinner at 8am?” “Were you? Let me check. Oh yeah. Ill be right back with that.” “Weren’t you going to be right back an hour ago?” “Was I? Oh yeah. I’ll tell the next nurse.” I actually had a nurse draw blood, and write down the wrong patient ID number off my wrist band. Luckily she read out loud. I corrected her, else my blood test would have been attributed to someone else and lost forever. Can’t believe they don’t have bar codes for this shit!
- Keep your story straight. I had a total of about 30 different ER nurses, EMT’s, fire fighters, nurses, doctors, and specialists over the course of two days. Every one of them asked me what happened. Every one of them took notes on some kind of intake form, medical record, clipboard, or keyboard. And nevertheless, every one of them asked me again as though they were the first person to talk with me. Why’d they even take notes? Why don’t they share them? Why isn’t there some database they can all look at? WTF? I honestly began to suspect they were working like a police squad, asking me to repeat my alibi to a dozen different investigators in the hopes of finding inconsistencies in my story so they could bust me and throw me out on my ear. “Chest pain and then dizziness? You told Nurse Ratched you had dizziness and then chest pain. Do you think we’re fools? Throw him in stir!”
- M*A*S*H and SCRUBS are kinda right. Medical professionals are raunchy people. I had one ER tech tell me about the 20-year-old hooker who’d had my bed before me, about how tiny her skirt was, how big her tits were, and how quickly she got seen by the male doctor on staff. I had another specialty tech recount to me how she and her sister, in a fit of boredom, had shaved their pubes into the shape of little hearts (and then how much it itched when it grew back). Seriously, I’ve never had a job where that was appropriate conversation with a client. Not that I minded. I think in high stress jobs like that, you gotta have a release. And when your life is in someone’s hands, the last thing you should be worked up about is whether their conversation is naughty.
Anyways, I’m back now. Keeping an eye on my monitor, and waiting for the next dizzy spell so we can figure out what the fuck is going on. But at least it’s not a cardiac event. No heart attacks here. Heart of a triathlete, baby. I’ll live to be 50.