My heart attack, last chapter
Here is the last chapter.
It might have been about 2-3 am before I woke (but I don’t really know because the CCU is windowless and has no clocks anywhere within sight of the patients, which makes it very disorienting and confusing), now with gauze patches in both groins and some chest pain. Nurses coming to check me every 15-30 minutes, continuing with the morphine (3-4 mg), oxygen up to 4 liters per minute, etc. I really felt special in a non satisfying way, if I say so.
Sunday, at about 8:00 am Ruben Valdes, MD was shaking my hand and saying “this is social call. As long as you are here Dr. Hines is your doctor, but I will take over when you are discharged from the hospital”, which was quite alright with me because I would have wanted it just that way. Ruben then proceeded to tell me what had been happening since Emily called his answering service the previous day and concluding with the events of the past night (including that when I was taken to the Cardiac Cath Lab and recatheterized, it was found the cause of the pain was an artery –one of the perforating arteries- that was 100% blocked but, because it departs LAD at a 90 degree angle, could not be accessed with the catheter and had to be left alone –they call them the sacrificial arteries-, so I did have two infarcts). Ruben also told me that I would have to take it easy for a while and told me to shut up when I replied that I had patients to see on Monday and wanted to be discharged…
The day seemed much longer than it was and my back hurt from being in that bed. Emily was there for a couple hours (she brought my prescription pad from the office as there were some scripts that I had to write for patients that would come to pick them up on Monday) and Pete and Anne also came to see me although they did not stay long. For some reason I was not able to watch TV for more that 10-15 minutes, I don’t know if it was due to the boring programming or because my attention span was seriously compromised. Fortunately I had the novel Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman and that made time pass a little easier.
By the way, the so called “cardiac diet” is god awful and I could not eat it, so I was happy eating fruit and drinking darkened warm water that the hospital dietary calls “decaffeinated coffee”…
At about 2:00 am on Monday, my nurse Joyce came to check my vitals, the pulse oxymeter, my heart and my lungs and gave another shot of 3 mg of morphine. I woke up some time later thinking that it looked like 8-9 in the morning (there was a lot of light at the nurses station, which I could see from my bed as they had left the curtain pulled) and started moving and tossing and I don’t know what so that Joyce came back to see what was wrong. I asked her for the time and she said “four o’clock”, at that time I realized that my chest pain was gone for the first time since it had started on Saturday morning.
Thankfully, by 3:00 pm on Monday I was transported to the telemetry unit (which required two extra changes of sticky pads –one for the portable unit during the wheelchair ride and another set for the “permanent” portable unit during my stay at telemetry). In spite of not been in intensive care, the nurses were still coming to bother me every two or three hours to check everything so that I could not rest at all. That evening I had visitors for a while and it broke the monotony of the “dolce far niente” that makes life so horrendously boring, read some of the book they brought me (a history of Formula 1), and watched TV for a few minutes between times of sleep or napping.
Tuesday morning was a continuation of the previous day, including visitors, with an overwhelming desire to walk out of there (except for the fact that I had no clothes). I felt fine although I did not like having the two double lines still hanging from my arms and all the cables attached to my chest. Or to put in another way, I was sick and tired of being tired and not able to rest. Emily came to see me and waited until Dr. Hines came (I was expecting that he would let me go home that evening) to see me so that we would talk about what he had done and what our collective expectations should be. He said that I had to stay 12 more hours but did sign the discharge orders for next morning at 6:30 am, making me show him that I could walk around the nurses station without being dizzy or out of breath, or too tired, etc. (which I proved I could do by walking with Emily around the whole floor three times immediately after Dr. Hines left the room but before he left the floor). I also got him to write in my chart that I was not to be disturbed until 6:00 am so I could sleep uninterrupted!
On Wednesday, the nurse woke me at 5:30 to get the vitals and Emily came shortly thereafter with clothes, shoes, etc. Then, I called the nurse again to get rid of the lines, the sticky pads, and the rest of the hospital paraphernalia so I could take a quick shower and get the heck out of there.
We got home and I just sat in my recliner and did nothing (well, I did go up and down the stairs five times to check how the old ticker would respond to exercise) and let everybody at home baby me for awhile. Unfortunately, that was not too satisfying as they didn’t let me do anything and for me it is not an easy thing to accept. The morning of Thursday went about the same, but then Emily came home at about noon and I had her take me to the office where I had three patients waiting for me (hooray! back to work). These people had had their appointments rescheduled a couple of times already and needed to be seen, and besides their cases weren’t difficult. Friday I had four patients (two were new patients and one of then a 71 year old man who would not let me talk…), but I survived the day equally well although a little bit tired.
Now I am back full time (two weeks now), but I don’t expect to get back on the LT until I am convinced that I could pick it up if it wants to go down on me).
And so this is the somewhat verbose story of my heart attack, with the moral of it being that anybody may have one of those with very atypical pain and/or no known history of atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries). Beware and have your doctor check you if you are past fifty!!
Thakn you guys and gals for paying attention...
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Imagine, 2001 K1200 LT Pacific
It's not happier he who has the most but he who needs the least.