…I woke up on a Wednesday morning, August 22nd, and didn’t feel right. Discomfort in my chest, shortness of breath, and the slightest exertion such as tying my shoes wore me out. People always ask me about chest *pain*, and maybe one’s personal definition of pain applies here, but I’ve never felt chest pain, only discomfort. Which I normally blow off as acid reflux, which I have too, and which mimics the same symptoms.
Anyway, I get ready for work, and am sitting on the side of the bed contemplating what to do. I finally decide that I’m going to call in and go back to bed. I can sleep it off, I tell myself. So, I do that, and also text Missy to let her know.
Missy is suddenly worried. The doctors said after the angioplasty that if I experience ANY signs of pain or discomfort to get myself to the ER, either by ride or 911. She tries to call. No answer. Keeps trying. No answers at all. (I was sleeping.) Fearing the worst, the worry gets to be too much so she leaves work and heads home.
I wake up about 9:30am as she’s crawling into bed with me. I eventually wake up fully, and she asks me whats going on. I figure there’s no way I can my usual uncommunicative self, so I fill her in. She’s now riding that fine line between feeling relief that I’m “ok”, and feeling upset because I worried her so much. She also insists that I go the the ER… so we get dress and I go to the ER.
We get to the ER… she drove… and I walk up to the window and am greeted by three ladies. One asks what I’m there for. I say that I’m having chest discomfort and am going to have by-pass surgery in 2 to 4 weeks. They immediately burst into action. The one takes my info, another one offers me a wheelchair, and a third speaks into a microphone on her chest, something that was all code but obviously about me to get people in the back into action. And action it was. I didn’t even have a chance to sit down even if I wanted to. I am escorted to a room where they begin to undress me from the waist up, and start poking and prodding and asking questions, about four people total, if I recall correctly, and even more enter and do their thing and leave at various times afterward. I bet I was worked on and talked to by over a dozen people just in the ER. It was actually kind of impressive in its efficiency.
I get my chest x-rayed. There are various tests, many involving the drawing of blood, I take my first ever nitro glycerine pill, more questions, and I swear every person who wondered within a 100′ radius felt the need to break out their stethoscope and listen to my lungs and heart.
I going to have to apologize because I don’t always remember all the technical terms and names of the tests, but they did one checking for some anti-body or something in my blood, and it checked out fine, but they had to wait I think three or four hours to do again, which checked out fine. Meanwhile, my cardiologists partner was on duty that day, and I met her and she was helping to try and figure out what might be wrong, and whether or not I might have to stay.
At the end of it all, she says that she’s not comfortable with my lack of diagnosis, she can’t rule out anything, so she’d like to keep me overnight for observation. Ok, I suppose. (I always wonder what they’d do if someone refused. I’m sure it happens.) They get some paperwork done, and wheel me, in my bed, upstairs to my room for the night. For this trip, and my x-ray trip, they always seem to have the most petite young women wheeling my and my huge NASCAR-looking bed around the place, yet they seem to be used to it and aren’t struggling too much.
Anyway, I get the most awesome room. For a hospital and in Cedar Rapids, anyway. It’s a corner room, with a clear view of the s-curve of the adjoining freeway, and lots of light and a very airy feeling. I ask if I can request the same room for after my surgery… they laugh. My new assigned main nurse asks me to tell something about myself so she can put something on my white board to help people connect. I say that I’m very sarcastic, and it works, because that little tidbit does help spur conversation during my stay.
Missy and I settle in for the night. Missy goes home to take care of a couple things. My son and my sister visit, and we have the most wonderful conversation for about an hour, just catching up. It almost feels like a night out at a hotel, except for the constant checking on my breathing… I’m tellin’ ya, every person that walks by.