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Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 1st, 2012, 1:36 pm
by ROBO Pop
I have been around this club quite awhile now, and many members enjoy my stories, while still others are highly annoyed by me, so to keep everyone happy, I thought I'd post a little about my introduction into the world of heart disease. While a lot of the stories I've told in the past may give a chuckle, most don't realize they're actually true stories about my heart disease, however I've never told you guys how it started...Note, I did post this awhile back on another site, but thought you might find it entertaining, or at least understand why I am this way.

I guess a good starting point for this piece is when I reluctantly agreed to go on a snowmobile excursion in Yellowstone Park with a bunch of young, active, farm boys from the mid-west. At the time, I was 56, while they were friends and business associates all around 30 and physically comparable to the Governator, Ahnold, in his hay day. They goaded me when I initially declined the proposed trip.

No man alive, with the possible exception of the two guys in the world who are well adjusted, could ever consider allowing themselves to be outdone by another regardless of age, physical prowess, etc.

What ego driven demon could possibly possess a 56 year old man to attempt to keep up with a group of thrill seekers little more than half his age, is it some primal force beyond my control that drove the decision, or just stupidity, I know my wife has unwavering thoughts on this subject, and in fact, she frequently shakes her head and says, you’re just not right in the head, but another story for another time...

In retrospect, a man from southern Arizona has no business going to Yellowstone Park in the dead of winter. Our idea of cold weather gear is a pair of socks worn with our sandals, so probably my second red flag was the fact I had to acquire cold weather gear for this endeavor, whereas all my fellow adventurers typically dress in parkas, and fur lined underwear half of the year in the upper region of Indiana.

I had a real sense of foreboding and was ill at ease prior to the trip, and even gave serious thought to canceling my participation. Ultimately, decided I was just getting old and needed to man up, relax, and enjoy the experience. So, in spite of the reservations I felt about the trip, and my better judgment, I allowed the boys to coerce and cajole me into going. What the heck, at least I learned the meaning of life on this trip… living can be deadly.

The plan was to meet up at the airport in Boseman Montana, and catch a shuttle to our final destination in Yellowstone. While I waited in the frigid airport for the rest of my group to arrive, I attempted to acclimate myself to the local weather by sucking the thin mountain air into my lungs, and was astonished that I could actually feel ice-cycles forming internally on the air sacks of my screaming lungs. I even experienced fuel-line freeze up during the wait.

Bear in mind that the temperature differential between my home and Bozeman exceeded 90 degrees. Definitely have to wonder who these “Scientists” are that espouse the global warming theory; clearly those people have never been to Yellowstone Park in mid January.

So here I am, suffering with every breath, colder than my first wife, and basically wondering what could have possessed me to agree to this excursion after just 5 minutes there. One thing about me though, I’m stubborn, and refuse to let anyone sense weakness in me. The ole' male machismo kicked into overdrive, and I vowed not to let my antagonist’s know I’d rather be back in the desert sipping wine with my gorgeous young wife. Especially since they had just arrived and given me a lot of grief over using her designer luggage which is decorated in a rather feminine African animal motif.

I had forgotten to get my bags out of storage before the facility closed, and at the last minute, had to use my wife’s designer suitcases with African animal motif. Until I met this crew, I never gave much thought to my size, but these guys are all gorillas. Huge knuckle draggers who must pick gravel out of their fingers where they drag the ground, well in excess of 6'6" each, with caveman attitudes, and you can pretty much guess what the rugged mob thought; Here’s this whimp that can’t bear the cold, uses ladies designer bags, and wants to go home to mommy after 5 minutes. The situation created a very deep hole for me to dig out of and the trip had just begun. Guess God just has a sick sense of humor when he humiliates a man just before totally destroying him.

So long and short of this segment of the story is I felt compelled to act like a real hard case and therefore would not admit to myself something was seriously wrong, even when I was having difficulty breathing and felt as bad as I look.

After an eternal ride in an unheated van, driven by Methusela, I swear the guy had a seeing eye dog, to our lodgings at the Stagecoach Inn, we quickly dropped our pretty bags in the hotel and headed to the snowmobile rental facility around the corner to get assigned the mounts for our adventure. Great, a Skidoo capable of blinding speed, and known to destroy both kidneys without remorse.

The first night out was somewhat leisure and allowed the newbies in our mob, that would be me, to acclimate themselves to snowmobile operation since we had arrived late in the afternoon.

The next morning after a quickie breakfast we headed out for the adventure of a lifetime. I hadn’t attempted anything of this nature in well over twenty years, but slowly, I started to get comfortable driving the snowmobile and began pushing it to higher and higher speeds, and was doing pretty well keeping up with the group going over some extremely rugged terrain. At least I wasn't embarrassing myself further after the luggage fiasco.

Then, unexpectedly, my sled lost traction going through a curve at 70mph and side slipped to the outer edge of the trail. I was barely holding on when the front ski caught on a tree root protruding from the trail. As I flew through the air, my thoughts were, oh well at least the snow would be soft. Didn't think about the massive machine following me through the air, or the tree both of us were propelled toward. Whoever designated pine as a soft wood, never hit one at 70mph.

Amazingly, I walked away from the crash, with just bent handle bars and some chest pain from what I suspected was a broken rib, as each breath caused sharp pain. Due to a propensity for accidents on this annual excursion, the ring leader of this mob had the foresight to invite his brother-in-law ER specialist, Doctor Clueless. Fortunately, he was too busy enjoying time away from the pressure of the ER environment to take notice of my infirmities, and after another member of the group had a head on collision with another maniac on a snowmobile, my travails were forgotten.

We spent a couple more, extremely long, extremely cold days exploring trails throughout Yellowstone, playing well into each night. However, the crash had tempered my enthusiasm, and I drove with far more restraint than previously.

After another long drive back to Boseman in that rattletrap van, I parted ways with my friends at the airport and began the return home with far more aches and pains than when I arrived. The two hour flight home was one of the longest I ever endured, even in comparison to trips over seas. My condition was worsening.

I was still having difficulty breathing, and so uncomfortable that, the next morning, I called in to work and then decided to go to urgent care to get checked out. Much to my surprise there were no broken ribs. They discovered I had contracted pneumonia, provided me with prescriptions, and sent me home to recuperate. End of story, right?

Just the beginning.

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 1st, 2012, 4:35 pm
by freckles1880

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 1st, 2012, 5:34 pm
by Ann Marie
awwww a cliff hanger :(

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 1st, 2012, 5:40 pm
by mrag
I feel like I'm watching Masterpiece Theater, where is the next episode???

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 1st, 2012, 5:52 pm
by ROBO Pop
~ Part Deux

In preparation for my trip to Yellowstone, my primary care doctor, Dr Cold Finger had given me a thorough checkup, and declared me physically fit. So imagine my surprise at the rapid change after her glowing prognosis just days earlier. What was happening, can you really get pneumonia, and for that matter would it manifest itself, in just a couple days in the cold? I realize the temperature dropped to -38F in Yellowstone while we were exploring trails, but please. Then again, maybe Mom was right, you’ll catch your death …

As the first week of paying for my trip progressed, my condition continued to decline. Breathing became an endeavor to be avoided due to the piercing pain the action inflicted on my lungs. Maybe when they discovered massive smudges in the lungs indicating pneumonia, the ER doctor overlooked the broken rib. With each breath came the gurgling bubbling sounds of a wizards boiling cauldron. To further compound the situation, a fever began to manifest itself, and sweat was pouring off and dribbling into every crevice in my body, yep, to quote a TV character, I had swamp ass, not a pleasant experience.

I did the one thing that all males of the species pull when we’re home with the wife and have the sniffles. I played it for all I was worth. Letting my wife know she needed to be more sympathetic as I was probably battling something serious like West Nile Virus, or Dengue fever, or some other exotic disease and I was effectively on my death bed. How close to prophetic that would prove to be. Lacking much progress in convincing the wife that I needed special treatment, I slept most of the time and popped pills at a rate that resulted in massive salary bonuses for more than one Pharmaceutical Executive, not to mention the 14 year old distributor on the corner.

By the following Saturday morning, one week after my initial trip to the hospital ER, my wife discovered that I had contracted Elephantitus. For those of you unfamiliar with that malady, your legs are one size from top to bottom, and no longer have anything remotely reminiscent of what you could call a shape. My ankles were the same size as my thighs, and my feet wouldn’t even fit into a shoe box. I’m not the brightest, as one can devine from this story, but something tells me that edema’s not a normal side effect of pneumonia. Huston, we have a problem…

My wife, god rest her soul; no, no, don’t worry she is taking a nap as I write this; was quickly on the phone summoning the help of medical friend. Now, years later when she thinks back, she probably wishes she had just finished me off, it would have been the perfect crime, and she wouldn’t have had to continue to suffer. How’s that saying go, your hind end always looks better from the front side, oh wait it’s hind sight is better than foresight.

I knew the situation was serious when my wife; I’ll call her Tracy to protect the guilty not to mention that’s her name, didn’t stop to put on make-up, but drug my sorry behind out to the car and hit the speed of light as she rushed me to the Emergency room at the nearest hospital. She blew the carbon build up out of my car in that brief trip. I am delighted to note that for once in my life, I got to take cuts ahead of everyone else in line and was seen immediately. Who says heart disease doesn’t have its’ perks? And, for those wondering, yep, same hospital that diagnosed pneumonia.

One thing I learned from this experience was that you can easily gauge how good your medical insurance is by the number of doctors who appear magically when you are in this situation and don’t have a personal physician available to manage the masses. Mine apparently was the best possible, because if even one specialist in Tucson, and surrounding communities did not participate in my internment, he or she was most assuredly out of town and unable to get back in time for the party.

I had Internists, ER Doctors, Cardiologists, Electrophysiologists, Pulmonologists, specialists in infectious diseases, and probably even a Proctologist or two thrown in for good measure assessing my condition. It was like a herd of 5 years olds trying to play soccer. All grouped tightly together shuffling after the prize, moving as one. Amazing to me, looking back on it now, how it could have possibly been so difficult to diagnose my condition. In fairness, I was in too bad of condition, for them to perform some diagnostic tests such as a heart catheterization to get an accurate assessment of the situation, but still how hard is it?

I recall individual Doctors coming to me to informing me what they each thought the problem was, and the diagnoses seemed to range from hair loss to hemorrhoids to heart failure. The Pulmonologist was incensed that most of the others were beginning to conclude I had a heart condition; in fact, he called the others idiots and guaranteed me that the problem was unrelated to my heart. Guess we know what his guarantee is worth.

Ultimately, I believe my wife refereed the brawl between doctors and placed one in charge of resolving their differences. I remember them all gathering together, crowded in the pit of despair they call an emergency room to discuss my treatment. As the discussion with my wife progressed, I began to hear crying, wailing, the pain and anguish palpable in the otherwise silent ER area. Hearing medical professionals bellow at the loss of potential revenue was heartbreaking to me, but my wife is a no nonsense woman. It was obvious from the disappointment in their eyes, that the medical staff just realized the gold rush was over. Knowing my child bride, she probably put them all in corners for time out in keeping with her practice at school. Anyway, we wound up with a Cardiologist in charge of the Ponzi scheme they were running on me. I have to admit, he was a take charge guy and compelling in his explanation of what he believed was going on with my body – it was rejecting me, my warranty expired.

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 1st, 2012, 6:12 pm
by mrag
Tell me the next installment is on AMC next Tuesday!

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 1st, 2012, 10:21 pm
by Eric
Yeah Robo-pop,

Cannot wait until the next episode, remind me sometime to tell you my story. (Not near as exciting as yours, but it does involve going to a high elevation in pursuit of fish)

Waiting anxiously on the next installment....(I know, you have to wait for your wife to take a nap again)


Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 2nd, 2012, 1:19 am
by KarenHall
The anticipation is killing me. Part three - NOW!!

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 2nd, 2012, 5:30 am
by rcarroll
Sorry ICDers,

But Robo Pop is going to drag this out. So here is the ending:

It was ...Colonel Mustard, in the library with the candle stick. :D

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 2nd, 2012, 8:17 am
by Slowpoke
It's been 14 hours, who is the dummy here, ME

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 2nd, 2012, 10:39 am
by ROBO Pop
~ Episode tres (3)

This is the third installment on Heart Disease for Dummies, which is the true, if not exactly accurate, accounting of how I found out I had heart disease in Jan 2007. Really didn't expect it to be so long and boring. I know so far I haven't seen any surprises in the story. Just remember at least one of you asked for it...

Let’s see a show of hands here, how many readers have spent any time in a typical US hospital emergency room? I’m sure most would agree it’s not a pleasant place, especially with all the sick people coming and going through the place continuously.
I had the good fortune of spending an entire week in a cubicle in an emergency room, or as I like to think of it, the "Pit of Despair." Seems I unwisely chose the worst time of year to avail myself of their services, January.

The hospital telemetry unit was so over crowded, I was condemned to doing hard time in the ER. In the grand scheme of life, that may seem insignificant but think about it. Do you realize how often the hospital cafeteria serves meals in the ER, exactly zero. In fact, they couldn’t even find the ER for days on end. Actually that had two positive aspects. First, I wasn’t expected to eat that stuff they pass off as food, and secondly that was the most effective diet I’ve ever been on, ultimately, I lost 50 pounds during my internment.

So where was I, oh yeah, the ER. Similar to the meal issues, is the fact that ER nurses are not accustomed to having long term patients to care for and ignored me for entire days at a time. To top things off, conversation with several led me to discover they were Renta-Nurses, well they actually called themselves traveling nurses, but I suspect it’s like the Rent to Own business in which they don’t do any background checks, and you pay the rest of your life for it. As one would expect, especially at the busiest time of year, the volume of noise during all hours is not conducive to good rest for a patient. So again it's not a great place to do hard time, no matter the crime. As I said to someone recently, make the best of the hand you are dealt, and if that hand is a loser, cheat.

My new head doctor, not a shrink, a cardiologist, stopped by for a chat. I immediately liked him, primarily because he laughed at one of my twisted comments and didn’t seem full of awe for himself like so many others before. I’ll call him Doctor Hairdo, as he took umbrage with my comment about his toupee being really bad quality. Hey, how was I to know that was his real hair?

Let me tell you folks, you know you are in deep doozie when a doctor pulls up a chair and sits down next to your bed to talk. I figure he’s bracing himself for the bad news, no sense both of you being uncomfortable right? He began the discussion by questioning me about previous symptoms of SOB (my wife thinks so), abnormal pains and suffering, and so on. Now what kind of leading question is that, I’ve been married for nearly thirty years, of course I’m suffering. Still, no history of those symptoms medically that would have told me I had suffered multiple heart attacks. Seems I'm one of those who has no indicators of an MI. Like all good martyrs, I just suffer in silence.

The news was grim, they ascertained that I had experienced multiple silent heart attacks over a long period of time, but until he could perform a catheterization, there was no way to be certain of how serious the residual damage was. However, he was certain I would need open heart surgery, and asked my permission to bring a cardiothoracic surgeon on board. When I agreed, he recommended one with an international reputation for success.

The Catherization was scheduled for the next day, and finally I was moved into a room in the telemetry unit upstairs. For the novices reading this babble, that’s basically just an OnStar tracking system for heart patients. I can hear it now; “Hello ROBO Pop, this is OnStar, our monitor shows you've had an accident, and your heart has stopped, would you like us to send emergency services to your location?” Gotta love technology.

Almost immediately after my transition to a private room, we were informed that plans were being made to move me to another hospital. I thought my genuine warmth and charm was getting me evicted, but the hospital I was in no longer performed Cardiac work as their parent company recently opened a Concierge hospital for that service across town. You just can’t make this crap up.

As things were going, we had to wait for the transfer until a bed was freed up at the new facility, and the hospital was waiting for permission to transfer me from the Center for infectious diseases as well. Remember I had viral pneumonia so technically, they have to get permission from Atlanta for transfer to ensure you don’t infect others with your bad attitude. Just as when I was in the military, everything was hurry up and wait.

Things were pretty uneventful except the Pulmonologist was trying every drug known to mankind to get the pneumonia under control so they could move forward on my treatment. My adventure in the cath lab started the morning after I was moved into a private room, and went well right up until they wheeled me out after unsuccessfully attempting to perform tests. As he wheeled me out, Dr. Hairdo commented he should have listened to my wife. She said I was punk and not doing well, and while he was not sure what that meant, she was right. Seems my BP was in the toilet, and my heart rate was through the roof making a catheterization too risky. They did however insert a PICC line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter ) in a vein in my neck and advanced to the heart to obtain intravenous access for prolonged treatment for meds and blood draw. Seems I wasn't consumming costly meds fast enough for the bean counters so they decided to go the direct route, straight to the heart of things.

So flash forward to the next day and deja vu all over again on that cold table with a plumbing snake running up through my thigh and into my heart. Not sure but I suspect the Roto Rooter guy inserted it. I don’t know how other patients deal with this, but I found the procedure fascinating to watch as he snaked that thing around exploring different areas of my heart. They inject radioactive contrast agents so that the Cardiologist can see the size, and any blockages on a television screen while exploring. The dye appears as a cloud of smoke as it passes through arteries and blockages become quite apparent. He even took time to point out the blockages as we watched and instruct me what percentage of blockage each had, kind of like Cardiac Tourism. One term I came to hate was Widow Maker, however my wife feels it's false advertising.

Suddenly Hairdo stopped, and everything became deathly still for an eternity in that cold labortory. After that pause, Dr. Hairdo asked, how and what I was feeling, and was stunned that I felt nothing at all. It seems I was enjoying another heart attack on the table. MI occurs in about 1% of patients during a Coronary Angiogram. At least I was in the best position possible, prone.

I finally left the cath lab with some souvenirs of my visit, three 8 X 10 glossies of my multiple blockages signed by the Dr, and a Intra aortic balloon pump (IABP) running up through my thigh and into my heart, and a pilots relief tube. Oh and instructions not to move off of my back for any reason whatever. I gotta tell you guys that I fell in love with those catheters they use as relief tubes, especially when the diuretics kick in.

The pump I was now blessed with is Polyethelene balloon, which uses helium on a catheter inserted through the femoral artery in the leg. Guided into the heart in the asending aorta. At the start of diastole, the balloon inflates augmenting coronary perfusion. At the beginning of systole, it deflates. The operation of the balloon is controlled by a large console control mechanism. It can increase cardiac output by up to 40%. Due to the risk of occlusion of the femoral artery, or clots and renal failure, they try to limit the Duration on the pump to 10 days. Heparin is used with this to keep blood thinned and reduce risk of clotting.

Later in the day, while lounging in a fixed position and under lots of percocet, my good fortune continued to hold. The Cardiothoracic surgeon showed up to inform me he couldn’t take my case. I didn’t bother asking why at the time, after all, who in their right mind would try to force a surgeon into such a delicate procedure. It would be comparable to the time I went to the low bidder for a vasectomy. Reflecting back on it later, I suspect that the “World Renowned Surgeon” felt the chances of success were too low and he didn’t want to impact his battering average, gotta admire his dedication and compassion.

Do you realize what goes through your mind when this situation happens then you meet the runner up? My new, second string, Surgeon appeared unannounced, and with no fan fare. No nonsense, strictly business, very direct, and fairly non-descript except for a thick accent and the black plastic glass frames. Dr. Blunt grabbed a chair, and pulled it up next to my bed…Oh shit, here we go again, what is it with these guys, is it part of their Cardiac training 101? I call him Dr. Blunt because he certainly is. He began telling me that I had coronary artery disease affecting 4 arteries with blockage ranging from 80 – 100%. One was the Widow Maker and occlusion of the left descending artery. Additionally, as a result of multiple undetected heart attacks, I had severe cardiomyopathy and was currently suffering congestive heart failure and a minor thing called Mitral valve prolapse. My ejection fraction was at 10 – 15%.

I had End Stage Heart Disease and yet I had just started, my chances of survival were estimated, generously at 5%. I was going to need a heart transplant immediately. I told him without hesitation; “Doc, I realize English is your second language, but I swear I clearly said I wanted a hair transplant, not heart.” Strangely he didn’t laugh, but still I appreciated the direct and honest approach. Then again, he did say, “If you survive this surgery, buy a lottery ticket; you would be the luckiest patient I’ve ever had." Some of you will probably think I exaggerate, but I assure you those were his exact words. Hey like I said, I prefer direct.

I decided right then and there if I was going out, that I was going to face this with a sense of humor. Don't want to bore others to death. My biggest concern was how hard this would be on my loving dedicated wife and she didn’t need to suffer any longer than absolutely necessary. Ha, little did I know, she had already been informed of the prognosis and instructed to get my children here for what the doctors now considered to be inevitable, and it wasn't a hair piece.

Next episode; It ain’t over till the fat guy sings…The trick is just avoid fat guys.

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 2nd, 2012, 6:05 pm
by ROBO Pop
rcarroll wrote:Sorry ICDers,

But Robo Pop is going to drag this out. So here is the ending:

It was ...Colonel Mustard, in the library with the candle stick. :D
You read ahead didn't you? Ha, there's an alternate ending...

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 3rd, 2012, 8:39 am
by Suzanne
Okay ROBO Pop...I'm going to get myself a coffee. I'll be back with it in about 10 minutes and I would love ~ Part Quatre to be ready.

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 3rd, 2012, 10:03 am
by ROBO Pop
Suzanne ~ Your wish...

Here we are at episode 4, and I'm still not sure how this ends. Maybe I should read ahead.

Back to my story ~ If memory serves, it was immediately after my discussion with the surgeon about a heart transplant that my lovely wife stopped by to see me. The poor woman was responsible for holding everything together, household chores, paying bills, taking care of a herd of beasts at home, working full time, and visiting me at the hospital. The situation had to be difficult, and impacting her immensely after more than a week of this, so her mind was most assuredly elsewhere when she walked in and immediately blurted out; “we’re being audited by the Infernal Revenue Service!”

Novices, take note, this is what is referred to as a cardiac stress test with nuclear booster, and should only be administered by professionals under a doctors’ supervision with Cardiac resuscitation equipment nearby. She did not even express a “hi honey, how are you”, just boom right to the punch line. Nothing left to do but wait for my ambulance ride over to the hospital up the street and eat nitroglycerin to stop the pain that mysteriously appeared with my wife.

There was good news in this eternal story. The cafeteria found me finally, and were quite generous with food to make up for their failure in previous days. They delivered delicacies that a condemned French connoisseur would savor as his last meal. Breaded, deep fried, soaked in butter, drenched in thick rich gravy, and they even provided prodigious amounts of salt on the side to ensure my every desire was met. Experienced CHF patients know these are the worst food items possible for us and yet, the hospital cafeteria happily provided a plentiful supply for my personal consumption. One can only assume they were trying to get rid of me in any way possible and were losing patience waiting for the transfer to be executed so to speak.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter, I had a limitless supply of Percocet at my disposal. Ostensibly it was for the back pain caused by my limited mobility from the heart pump implanted in me, but I think it was really to subdue me. Most nurses have a shortage of time and don’t fully appreciate the genius of my humor. Who cares, beats being high on life, and I was really beginning to enjoy myself.

I can only assume that the drugs prevented me from suspecting my family knew the bad news since the kids showed up unexpectedly. They’d just been here at Christmas, a few weeks prior and here they were back from Phoenix, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Not that it’s important, but I have three grown children, one of each. You guys, I meant a Republican, a Democrat, and an Independent. Coincidentally they had a family meeting, without my participation, and decided that they were not going to let me feel sorry for myself and worry. Rumor is someone also submitted a motion to cut my branch off of the family tree, but the vote was shelved until they could find my will. As a result of their decision, combined with my own decision to keep things under wraps, we all avoided discussing the grim reality of the situation we were faced with, in a ridiculous attempt to protect each other from more anguish.

Secretly, I was struggling with the idea of a heart transplant. I could not get my mind around the concept that even having another person’s heart, I’d still be me. Illogical thoughts, especially for a guy who spent his life dealing in logic, and scientific analysis. But, and I’ve never voiced this out loud, my fear was strictly that I would lose my wife. I was afraid I would not feel the same toward her because the mythical romantic component of the human heart would not be my own. How could I possibly risk hurting her, she is my reason for being.

I knew these were unreasonable thoughts and probably fueled by drugs, but I wasn’t willing to find out I was wrong. Unfortunately, I had other things to contemplate for the immediate short term.

There was some more positive and negatives. The plus, I was finally scheduled to be transferred up the road to another hospital. The minus, they were not equipped for a heart transplant, and the surgeon was not accredited to practice there. I would need to go to the University Medical Center. A command decision was made for us by the hospitals and doctors involved. With all local hospitals operating above capacity, and patients literally being stored in hallways, they would transfer me to the next hospital while we waited for the transplant facility to free up space. At this point, I feel like a frickin used car being traded off repeatedly for something better. But, another caveat arose, because of the heart pump, I had to have a paramedic with specialized training for the ambulance ride four miles up the street to my next destination. It may be clear to some by now that the number of medical and peripheral professionals I employed during my adventure should warrant some sort of civic award.

Finally, a paramedic with the right combination of training and expertise was found for my joy ride, and the next hospital on my tour had a bed reserved for me. Ironically, the hospital I was leaving became worried about liability, so they had a renta nurse ride along to my new digs as well, or else they were hoping that she wouldn’t find her way back, nurse Cratchet was that bad. She was undoubtedly competent, but less than charming to be sure. Her presence in the over crowded ambulance created some rather annoying issues for the paramedics. She was squeezed in the ambulance between my feet and the back doors to the van. We all joked about the possibility of me accidentally nudging her out the doors as we drove over to the next stop, but decided against it.

Upon arrival on my next stop on what was expected to be much like Cher, my final tour, I was assigned a personal nurse to take care of me while I awaited another transfer. My nurse is a ringer for Ellen DeGeneres both in appearance and sense of dry wit. The two of us were a bad combination, two nut cases together trying to outdo one another. When my wife arrived at my newest digs, and asked how they were treating me, I claimed the nurse was trying to kill me. Without hesitation, Nurse Ellen admitted she was, and started unplugging equipment, while wondering aloud what each connection’s function was. Not to be outdone, I dropped my head to the side and feigned death. Nurse Ellen was great and kept my spirits up under some trying circumstances, ironically we discovered she lives in my neighborhood, just a few blocks away. Holy mother, maybe she really does want to kill me.

My stay at this facility lasted only three days, but they wound up being critical to my long term results. Dr. Blunt, my surgeon, was becoming worried that my chances were declining further, and I would die before even reaching the University Medical Center hospital where he would perform the transplant. Further compounding the problem, a heart pump can only be used for 10 days, we exceeded that. On day three here, Dr Blunt finally told them to stick me in an ambulance and get me to the university hospital, bed or not.

At the same time, I finally voiced to Nurse Ellen my concern about a transplant and the fact that it really hadn’t been discussed as much as dictated. I had concerns, and felt as a minimum, the surgeon should talk to me about it. She must have shared this information with the surgeon, because suddenly I was removed from the transplant list. Seems once you express any misgivings whatever, they yank you off that exclusive list, no discussion. There are far too few hearts available and too many patients in need for them to have any roadblocks arise. I learned later that a patient across country may benefitted from my decision.

I am fairly certain the entire medical staff joined together to force my transfer to my final resort destination, the place I refer to as Club Med.

Once again, I was crammed into the ambulance with the same Paramedics and headed up the road. Not sure if I mentioned they had me on diuretics, did you guys know that due to budget cuts in Arizona they’ve closed all rest stops…I challenged the driver to get us to my next stop before the jaundice level of my skin reached the critical levels and the dam burst. We went through town at break neck speeds taking corners on two wheels. Siren and patient screaming, at 300 decibels. As we crashed through the double doors at Club Med, they all threw up their hands and danced like jocks who had just won the Super bowl and were headed to Disneyland.

My next stop on my farewell tour, Club Med, is in downtown Tucson and is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University. Anyone who has never been to a teaching hospital, whoa, what a treat you are missing. The doctors truly are practicing there.

Next episode; is the end in sight…, or bottoms up

Re: Heart Disease For Dummies …or… Miracles can be fun

Posted: May 3rd, 2012, 4:44 pm
by garya
If you are into this sort of stuff; serial episodes. While waiting for Robo to rebreathalize, may I recommend on Netflix; Sports Night (1/2 hr comedy-24 shows available) and The Killing (adult cops & robbers, 1 hour, 13 shows available). House of Cards was also pretty good (12 episodes?).