Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Mop Up 04/15/07

Hi. It's me, Jim. I've been missing a while, and there is a reason. I'm going to explain it to you, but I have to tell you that I'm not very enthused about dredging through it all. But it is important to spit it out, because what has occurred in the past 10 days or so has a direct bearing on this blog and, if you are one of the handful of regulars who checks in on me here, I feel I owe you an explanation. So, here goes...

How I Spent Easter Weekend by jimmycity

My last post here was about having my wound vac removed. This was on Wednesday and was a very wonderful day for me. No more tubeage and hauling around a black purse that sucked on me continuously. Wednesday was a good day, indeed.

Thursday was an interesting day at work. My boss had decided to take Thursday and Friday off and have a long weekend. The man surely deserved it. He had been doing his job and parts of mine for weeks, as I recuperated from my leg injury. On Thursday, a few issues came up, and I tried to communicate with the Engineering group about resolving them. I wrote emails. I left voice messages. No one bothered to reply. This aggravated me, because I believe that if my boss had instigated the communication, people would have responded. Me, not so much.

Friday arrived and I emailed the people involved again in the morning. Nothing. I left phone messages after lunch. Not a peep. I was pretty angry now, and decided to find a live body and speak to them face to face. I jumped up from my desk at about 2pm, and marched to the other side of the building to find someone with whom to discuss the issue. Did I mention I was mad?

I walk briskly down the long main hall of the building, and as I am striding, I am formulating my choice of words that I intend to deliver to the first person I can corner. As I am walking, I notice that I am out of breath, and slow my brisk walk down quite drastically. I become lightheaded. I stop in the hall and stand with my back against the wall and gulp air in. I cannot catch my breath. Then, the pain hits. My chest begins to tighten up and I become dizzy.


I turn on my heels and head back to my facility. I sit in a chair with my co-workers and they ask what is wrong. I tell them I need to go to the hospital. One of the video techs grabs my car keys and drives me to the Emergency Room.

At the Triage desk, they check my blood oxygen level. It's very low. They check my blood pressure: 190/105. They usher me to a chair and slap electrodes onto my chest and give me an EKG. An ER doctor compares this reading with a EKG taken just two months ago when I was last there. The two are very different.

"Mr. City, " the doctor tells me, "I think you have either had a heart attack recently, or are about to have a heart attack."

Cue the anxiety attack. I mean BIGtime. They put me on Xanex to calm me down.

I am checked into the cardiac ward of the hospital. They stuff an oxygen tube under my nose, put a nitroglycerine tab under my tongue and a big, gooey nitro patch onto my chest. They make me chew up a handful of aspirin. They hook up a heart monitor to me so they can watch what it is doing at all times. And they tell me to be patient, I was going to be there until they can run tests on me Monday. This was Friday. It's a holiday weekend, afterall.

See, I don't want to go through telling this all again. I've told every family member, and all my friends this story a billion times since last week, it seems. I could give you a blow-by-blow of what happened, but you already KNOW I don't die, cuz I'm telling you after the fact. But, trust me here, I didn't know if I was going to die back THEN.

My Dad flew in from Florida to be at my side. My friends dropped in all weekend. My family called me every hour of every day. I was scared out of my mind. I cried. You think I wouldn't freak out and cry? I fucking did, buddy.

The hospital staff treated me like I had advanced coronary disease. They had to; they didn't know otherwise. My blood was kept so thin that when they had to give me any kind of shot, I bruised and bled like a stuck pig. They intentionally lowered my blood pressure to around 90/50. It got as low as 85/30 at one point. If I accidentally knocked off an electrode to my heart monitor, my whole monitor would go dead, and staff would come running into my room, thinking that I had flat-lined. Think I was stressed out with all this going on?

I had anxiety attacks all weekend.

It was a long, awful weekend of waiting. My Dad and I got to do a lot of talking, and that was the one bright spot. My father, if you hadn't read before, is the greatest motherfucker God ever created. Fuck that Ghandi guy, he never could have handled my mother. I love my Dad so much I can get a little choked up just writing it. He was there for me, all weekend long. Man, we talked.

On Sunday, I had to watch a video about a heart catheter procedure they were going to do on me on Monday. This is that thing where they snake a catheter up your femoral artery in your groin and go up to your heart to inspect your coronary arteries and your heart. If they find a little blockage and plaque, they can do an angioplasty procedure, which is where they inflate the catheter like a balloon and press the garbage they find up against the artery walls. If they find blockage in a risky area, or find too much blockage, they pull the catheter out and an open heart, bypass procedure is scheduled. I had to sign paperwork stating that I understood I could have a heart attack during the procedure, or that I could stroke out during the procedure.

Cue another anxiety attack.

To make a long, ridiculous story a little shorter, I had the procedure. Not only did my heart look good, NO plaque of ANY KIND was found. Are you kidding me? I'm a fat guy who has lived on junk food all my life. I was SURE they would find a Chicken McNugget lodged in there somewhere. Nope.

Then, they tested my lungs. Afterall, I could have thrown a bloodclot, causing my shortness of breath. After much to-do, my lungs were fine. Clean and absorbing oxygen just dandily.

What the fuck happened to me on Friday, then?

The doctor explained it this way:

Since the first week of February I have had a drastic reduction in activity level. Hell, everyone was ordering me to keep off my feet and keep my leg elevated, right? Well, that shit had been going on for 8 weeks. Eight weeks of sitting around and taking it easy and sleeping to speed the healing of my wound caused me to become "de-conditioned". I had the wound vac removed on Wednesday, and on Friday I was charging down the hall at work, looking for a fistfight. My body was like "Exertion? Whatchoo talking about, Willis?" My heart wasn't used to pumping like that in a while, and my chest hurt from breathing so hard. No heart attack, buddy. Just extreme fatigue.

Oh my GOD, I felt like an idiot. I was convinced I was going to die, and it turns out that I had just morphed into a giant slug in two months. A giant slug with a perfectly good heart and set of lungs, mind you.Good, yet kind of weak right now.

And THAT'S how I spent Easter weekend. I hope yours was better.

I have more to say, but I'll save it for another post.


Melissa said...

Sweet baby jesus. I'm so glad you are ok. Just lots and lots of hugs from here, sugar.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jimbo, Good God man, you don't do anything halfway, do you? The good news is that it turned out to be something fairly benign, it sucks that you and your family had to wait all weekend to find that out. I'm glad to hear that your doing better and it's good to hear from you again. Check your email, I'll write more there. Love ya, man. David