WE INTERRUPT THIS LIFE FOR MASSIVE PULMONARY EMBOLISMS.
OR - How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
Me (and Joey) in the Intensive Care Unit at the Hackensack University Medical Center, August, 2006
I had Arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of July 2006, and ten days later, Dr. Quack said everything looked fine. So, Joey and I decided to take a drive from our home in Florida up to New Jersey, to 'Surprise' our friends and relatives with a visit. We loaded up the Highlander, and hit the road. We're marathon drivers, preferring travel in our car than in airplanes whenever possible. We've driven literally hundreds of thousands of miles together over the years. We joke that Willie Nelson's ON THE ROAD AGAIN is our Theme Song.
After driving for a few hours, I was starting to feel uncharacteristically exhausted. We can usually make the 19-hour drive in one shot; we'd recharge our batteries with a Venti Starbucks or three and keep on driving through the night. But this time I knew coffee just wouldn't do the trick. Joey and I checked into a hotel somewhere along I-95.
After a restless few hours of sleep, we were back on the road before dawn, and we arrived in Joisey at 7:30 AM on August 9, 2006. We stopped for breakfast at one of our old favorite 'greasy spoon' diners, and arrived on our friend Mike's doorstep at 8:25. (I remember looking at the dashboard clock before Joey shut the car off.) Charlie, Mike's dad, came out to sit on the front porch with me, while Joey and Mike were looking over some electronics components we brought up for him to tinker with. (Mike is nothing short of a genius with that kind of stuff.)
I looked at my watch and noted it was exactly 8:30 now; Charlie was chatting away about a party he recently attended, and suddenly, he began to fade in and out and his body started to move in waves like a translucent Jell-O Jiggler. I shook my head, and closed my eyes for a second, and looked at Charlie again. He was no longer fading in and out, but suddenly I was. He asked me if I was all right, as I wiped perspiration from my forehead. I said it must be the heat and I was tired from the drive. Charlie made a joke about us living in Florida, and how I should be used to the heat by now, but his voice sounded like he was talking from inside of a coffee can. I could barely understand what he was saying; everything was muffled and strange.
I stood up, and said I needed to get out of the sun and sit for a while; Charlie followed me inside and took a seat in the Living Room. He looked worried. I just plopped myself down on the stairs in the entrance foyer, across from him.
As soon as I sat on the stair, the floor leaped up into the air in front of me, and it started to dip down to the left, and then up again and then down to the right. It reminded me of those moving floors in Fun Houses…
The floor was break-dancing, and I thought for a second I was going to vomit. Charlie was saying something, but I couldn’t speak for fear of yakking my guts up onto Charlie's carpeting. I remember he looked frightened. I didn’t hear him call for Joey, as there was a roaring, echoing sound in my ears, and I knew right away that it was something more than my being hot and tired from our drive. Joey and Mike came into the foyer, and one look at me was all Joey needed to snap into action. He helped me walk to the car, and we headed for the Hospital. (Somewhere in there, I remember refusing a ride in an ambulance via a phone call to 9-1-1.) But within two or three miles of Mike and Charlie’s house, I began to start feeling better. In another five minutes or so, I was feeling perfectly fine. Go figure! Joey was still frightened, but I told him I must still be worn out from my knee surgery and the drugs I was still on, and I’ll be just fine. Reluctantly, he allowed me to talk him out of going to the hospital, and instead, he drove me to CVS to get some aspirin. Joey parked at the curb, and I headed inside. By the time I reached the correct aisle and picked up some Tylenol, it was Fun House time for me again! The floor was coming up at me, and I felt like a marble being rolled around and around and tipped up and down inside of a shoebox. I began to perspire – no, SWEAT, and I held onto the shelves, trying to drag myself through the store to the front door.
I barely made it to the cash register without falling down. I actually leaned across the Formica countertop, panting, as I was very short of breath, and extremely dizzy. I held onto that counter like it was a surfboard in an angry sea.The Clerk must have thought I was on drugs or something, and he seemed petrified of me.I couldn’t speak correctly around my tongue, as it felt as thick around as my arm.
The clerk scanned the Aspirin into the cash register.I threw a ten-dollar bill at him, and I left the store, staggering like a drunk. I remember the clerk yelling to my back that I forgot my change, as I attempted the hundred-mile gap between the store and our Highlander.The sidewalk wasn’t cooperating, as it pitched up into the air and down again, like I was riding in a roller coaster.
Somehow, I managed to plop myself back into the car; my hair was plastered to my forehead and sweat was literally pouring down my face like tears. Joey immediately drove full speed ahead for the Hospital without saying one word to me. I was panting, and couldn’t catch enough breath to reply if he had asked me anything. We got within a mile of Hackensack University Medical Center when I started to feel better again.
I wiped my face with a tissue and my breath started to come back, and within a few more minutes, I was feeling like myself again. I felt fine. What the heck was going on? I was overweight, and of course, the first thing that went through my head was I was having a heart attack. However, I had no chest pain, no tingling feeling in my arms, and no other symptoms of a heart attack. As I rationalized my symptoms with Joey, I tried to diagnose myself on the drive. I told him it obviously couldn’t be anything serious, or I’d be dead or unconscious by now. And again, I was feeling fine, and I whined (and complained) that I didn’t want to go to the Hospital.
I wanted to call our friends and surprise them that we’re up for a visit! I wanted to get all of us together and have dinner and a few cocktails at our favorite local pub.I was looking forward to having a party!!I didn’t want to waste our vacation time with an unnecessary visit to the emergency room! I told Joey I was just exhausted from the surgery, and I didn’t sleep well the night before, and any other reason I could think of for not going to the Hospital. We had reservations at a local Hotel, and I suggested we check into our suite and take a nap and a nice hot shower, and I was sure I’d feel as good as new.
Joey dropped me and our rolling suitcase off in front of the lobby entrance and he went to park the car. As soon as I entered the lobby, the Fun House had returned, along with all of its symptoms; this time - magnified! I stood at the check-in desk, panting, and holding onto the granite countertop so I didn't end up on the floor. The Clerk asked if I was all right, and I couldn’t answer her. It’s kind of hard to speak when you can’t breathe. She seemed nervous, as if she wanted to call the Police.
Thankfully, Joey entered the lobby and checked us in. The clerk asked if she should call for an ambulance. I refused, complaining I needed to shower before I did anything else. (Can you believe how stupid I am?)
So, Joey half carried, half dragged me up to our suite and plopped me on the sofa while he read me the Riot Act about my needing to go to the Hospital RIGHT NOW.
“My Mother always told me to wear fresh, clean underwear in case you ended up in the Hospital Emergency Room! I have been on the road for more than 24 hours, and I need a shower and a change of clothes before I go ANYWHERE!My mother would KILL me if I went to the ER without a shower and fresh, clean underwear!” I insisted.
Joey, reluctantly let me take my shower, as I felt just fine once again. I was sure this was all related to my recent knee surgery. Perhaps it was a reaction to the combination of the anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers with something I ate for breakfast in our favorite Greasy Spoon Diner?
While I was running these thoughts through my thick head, the drain in the bathtub suddenly grew to be the size of a manhole cover as I fell forward in the shower as Fun House Time returned once again. Thankful for the safety railing installed on the wall, I clung to it and it kept me from falling onto my face. I was now too weak to lift my arms high enough to rinse the shampoo from my hair. I barely had enough breath to yell out for Joey. Bless his heart, as at that second, my Knight in acid-washed blue jeans opened the door to check on me! Immediately, Joey helped me to rinse off and towel dry. He nearly carried me (no small feat!) to the bed, and he helped me to get dressed.
This time, I wouldn’t put it off. I actually WANTED to go to the Emergency Room. Something was very wrong, and whatever that ‘something’ was, it was pretty frightening now that it kept happening, and the symptoms were getting stronger each time. Just as I sat in our Highlander, the Fun House started yet again, and it was the wildest Fun House Adventure for me yet! I was out of breath, soaking wet from sweating, dizzy and very, very frightened. We arrived at the Hackensack University Medical Center Emergency Room in no time flat, and they took me in immediately, ahead of everyone else waiting there before me.
Within two minutes, (I’m not exaggerating) the ER Physician told me I had blood clots. He said it was a textbook case scenario: I had knee surgery less than two weeks earlier; and I was sedentary for hours at a time in the car. I didn’t get out of the vehicle to walk around to get my blood flowing every hour to hour and a half. Failure to do this one little trick was enough to cause this very serious, life threatening condition I was now facing. (Dr. Quack never told me any of this important information when I left his office the day before our trip…) I was immediately put onto a gurney in a curtain-enclosed cubicle in the corner of the Emergency Room.I was informed several Specialists were paged and would be with me shortly. I had two IV lines inserted into my arms, and one was hooked up to a bag of Heparin, a blood thinner. I was also hooked up to a pulse/ox monitor, which clamped onto my finger, a blood pressure cuff was put onto my upper arm, and several leads from the heart monitoring machine were attached to my chest.
I told a nurse I needed to go to the bathroom. She handed me one of those plastic bedpans, and I looked at it like it was an alien life form. “There is NO WAY in Hell I can pee in this hat.”
She said she’d help me, and I gave her my “You touch me and you’re dead” look. She pulled the curtain all the way around the gurney I was lying on. I said, “I don’t mean to be a problem patient, but I’d rather explode than pee in that hat.” The nurse informed me I had blood clots, and needed to remain HORIZONTAL until examined by the Specialists. I shook my head at the bedpan and she smirked and curtly replied, “Suit yourself.” and walked out of my cubicle. A very young hospital volunteer popped in a second later, holding onto one of those Johnny gowns; the ones that open in the back and show your ass cheeks to the world. She told me she needed to help me get my clothing off and into the Johnny gown, because the doctors that were paged to see me would be down shortly.
I mentioned to the volunteer I had to use the bathroom, and she perked right up and said, “Come with me! It will be easier to get your clothes off if you’re standing anyway!”
I realized this volunteer had no clue what I was in there for.She obviously didn’t know I was to remain lying down because of the blood clots.But rather than wrestling with this young volunteer to get my clothes off and into a Johnny gown, I could kill two birds with one stone and sneak off down the hallway to use the bathroom before the Cavalry arrived.Besides, I felt fine again.Go figure.
I disconnected the wire leads to the heart monitor, removed the blood oxygen sensor from my finger, and opened the Velcro sleeve to the blood pressure cuff. I got up off the gurney, held the IV pole with the heparin bag on it, and rolled it along the hallway to the Ladies Room, following the perky volunteer. She told me she’d wait outside of the door should I need anything.
Once inside, I locked the door, and I used the facilities. (Many sighs of relief!!) When I was finished, I removed the bag of heparin from the IV pole, and managed to take off my clothing, except for my panties. (I wasn’t there for an OB/GYN exam, so the panties stay!)
I put the Johnny gown on, and realized it barely made its way around to my backside. I felt air conditioning on my back, and knew there was no way in HELL I was leaving this bathroom with nothing on but my panties and a Johnny gown!
Fortunately, there were several more Johnny gowns folded on a shelf in the bathroom, so I went through five of them, looking for size tags. (There weren’t any) Meanwhile, the discarded gowns were spread all around my feet on the floor.
I put a second Johnny gown on backwards and tied it in the front, covering all of my bare parts. I reached over to re-hang the heparin bag, and accidentally knocked over a box of plastic urine specimen cups. They clanged to the floor, making a LOT of noise. (I’m talking LOUD!)
While I was collecting the specimen cups off the floor and re-folding the discarded Johnny gowns, a lot had been happening down the hallway in the Emergency Room.
Apparently, when I removed the heart monitor leads from the snaps on my chest, as well as the blood pressure cuff and blood oxygen sensor – they all started beeping and squawking at the nurses’ station like I died or something, and people went running to my cubicle, to find my gurney empty.
And here I was, standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom to make sure I was covered with the two Johnny gowns, taking my sweet old time doing it, too.
Meanwhile, two of my new doctors were frantically searching the Emergency Room for me. When they located the young volunteer standing outside of the bathroom door, I heard loud voices… ANGRY loud voices. Apparently, they were upset with the young volunteer for allowing me to leave my cubicle.
They started knocking on the door, ready to open it, thinking I had died in there or something. I heard one doctor say he was getting the key to open the lock. It was then I yanked the door open. Before anyone could say a word, I said to them, quite matter-of-factly: “With 70% of Americans being obese in this Country, ya’d think you’d have some plus sized frikken gowns around here, so I don't have to wear TWO of them!”
The doctors looked at each other, then at me again. Both doctors verbally crucified me for getting off my gurney and leaving the cubicle, but I was adamant that there was no way in HELL I was going to pee in a hat!
Within seconds, I found myself back on my gurney, being pushed by no less than five Hospital Workers, and followed by three Specialists. I felt like I was on one of those Medical shows you watch on Television. I was put back into my cubicle, and a flurry of Hospital Workers suddenly surrounded my bed at the same time, all of them yelling out orders. I always heard you have to wait for HOURS to get some attention in the ER; but here I was, getting the Royal Treatment.
The heart monitor, pulse/ox finger thingie, and blood pressure cuff was reattached, and a phlebotomist appeared with a plastic tray holding a supply of clear plastic tubes, syringes, and other blood-drawing supplies. Blood vials were taken, and a person appeared from underneath someone else’s armpit and wiped a spot on my stomach with an alcohol pad, pulled a little inch of skin up in-between her fingers and injected me with something that stung like a bee. She explained it was LOVENOX, a super strong blood thinner.
My new Doctors appeared at my side, handing Joey their business cards, lightly berated me again for walking down the hallway to the bathroom, and began asking me questions about all sorts of things. Joey answered one doctor and I spoke with the other.
The flurry of Hospital Workers still came and went all around me while I talked with one of the doctors. I had a third Intravenous line put into the top of my hand. (now I had three IV ports!) The one in my elbow was hooked up to the HEPARIN, and the new one was to hydrate me. The third port stayed empty, and I was told it was in case of an emergency. (I didn't ask - I didn't want to KNOW what OTHER kind of emergency they meant!)
I was injected twice more in my stomach with LOVENOX, and a Technician showed up in my cubicle with a portable X-Ray machine. I was made to sit upright on the gurney, and they took a few shots of my chest. (I always smile and say "Cheese" when X-rays are taken. (Go figure!)
Then someone came at me with a long thin needle that was pushed down through my wrist, and into my artery to draw arterial blood to obtain the oxygen content. (That frikken HURT!)
As soon as they left with their Arterial Blood, a man showed up with what reminded me of a sonogram machine. He spread some goop on the wand, and traced the path of the arteries in my legs, to be sure I didn’t have any more blood clots waiting to let loose.
Immediately, I was made to lie flat on the gurney, and I heard the word STAT used way too many times for my liking, while even MORE Hospital Workers showed up in my little cubicle, shouting out orders to do things to me I didn’t understand.Suddenly I was frightened, and began feeling very strange. In attendance now was a Cardiologist, a Thoracic Surgeon, a Pulmonologist, a Neurologist and two other doctors I didn’t get the dirt on yet. I began to take another trip through the Fun House again, but this time, I felt more secure I was in a hospital.I was still feeling very strange, and I told the doctor closest to me that I was frightened. He held my hand.There were arms all over me, hooking up wires, attaching bags of medication to the Heparin already on the IV stand, and even a fourth shot of LOVENOX in my stomach.
The Cardiologist told me a clot went through my heart, and caused a mild heart attack.Since I still had no chest pain, he said that was a good sign, but it was possible I suffered some damage to a valve as the clots pushed through.A Defibrillator was turned on, and ready to rock and roll. (A defibrillator is that dual paddle thingie they jump start corpses with to bring them back to life) Yep… this vacation was showing the signs of being one of my best ones yet!!
I started to feel very weird now, and this time it was even scarier than my previous trips through the Fun House. My heart was racing, I felt dizzy, out of breath, and very, very frightened. Especially when I looked over the head of one of the nurses and saw Joey’s eyes. His face was pale, and his eyes were wide and brimming with tears. He looked absolutely terrified.
“Somebody give my Husband a Budweiser, please?” A few people giggled, and one nurse led Joey away from my cubicle.
My doctor still held my hand, as someone put oxygen onto my face. My heart was racing like I was running a marathon, and I was hot, clammy, dizzy, out of breath and felt like I was going to die. (I was told later that I almost DID.)
Then, in the middle of all of this mayhem going on around me, I took my right hand (the one with the IV’s in it) and removed the Oxygen from my face.I looked up at the doctor holding my left hand and I said with every bit of strength I had left: “Hey Doc! I’m feeling very high or something! I don’t want to die, so my husband can go and marry some skinny chick!”
Everyone around me laughed, and as the nurse replaced the Oxygen over my face with a smile, my Doctor asked me how I could keep a sense of humor at a time like this? I smiled and told him the truth: “If I start to cry, I won’t stop.”
What felt like an eternity later, I began to feel better once more… the immediate crisis at hand had obviously been averted. I was still alive, and that’s all I gave a crap about anyway.
Within minutes, I was wheeled out of my cubicle, and down the hallway, and put first in line (cutting in front of several others on stretchers) outside of the CAT Scan Room.
The Technician explained what they would be doing a contrast CAT scan of my chest, and joked I must be related to one of the doctors, as I didn’t look ‘sick’ enough to be a ‘REAL” STAT patient. (STAT patients are near-death, or could die if proper diagnosis was reached in a timely fashion, so treatment could be administered immediately.)
After my CAT scan, I was returned to my cubicle, where I was introduced to yet another of my new physicians. He also commented that I didn’t look as sick as I was.I said, “Thank you! …I think!” It was later explained to me that I had passed a series of very large, very life threatening blood clots from my calf, where they formed after my knee surgery. These were called DVT's. (Deep Vein Thrombosis). Once I was on my feet and walking around today, the clots let loose, blew through a valve in my heart, causing a minor heart attack and some significant damage to a valve. Then the clots passed through my heart and ended up in the arteries of my lungs, where they were called Pulmonary Embolisms. (PE’s) Indeed, I was extremely lucky to be alive. Of course, I don’t do ANYTHING half assed.When I do something, I do it whole hog or I just don’t do it.Having Blood Clots and Pulmonary Embolisms weren’t an exception to the rule.My embolisms in my lungs were called MASSIVE Pulmonary Embolisms (MPE’s), and very few people survive them when they are this large. I was told I was an enigma, (of course!) as there was never a patient in their vast experiences as physicians, which had survived such large MPE’s before. The largest MPE’s were usually only seen in Cadavers. And I kept pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t one of them.
After I was pronounced ‘stable’ (probably for the first time in my LIFE!)I told Joey to go back to our hotel and get some rest.If anything happened during the night, the nurses promised to call him immediately.
I had a catheter inserted. (Yay! No need to pee in a hat!!) And I was to remain HORIZONTAL until I passed a series of tests tomorrow. Yes, Doctors. I’ll be a good inmate. I mean, PATIENT.(I only agreed because they threatened to tie me down to the bed if I tried getting up again! ...and I'm not into that kinky stuff. heehee!)
My room in the Intensive Care Unit had a view of the roof of another building, no telephone and no TV set, as only very sick people are admitted to ICU.
However, I felt fine, and I was terribly bored, so I started talking to the nurses.I told dirty jokes; we made fun of some of my doctors.(One never smiled, and had ZERO bedside manners, but was supposedly the best in his field, so I couldn’t care less about his social skills. However, I just couldn't resist imitating him.)Eventually, I convinced one of the nurses to sneak in one of the cordless phones from the Nurses’ station.
I called my Mom to give her the happy news about where I was spending my Summer Vacation.After the initial shock and question and answer period were over, she gasped and nearly dropped the telephone in my ear.
Urgently, she asked, “What time did this happen this morning??”
“I’d say exactly 8:30. I remember is was about 8:25 when we pulled up to Mike’s house, and I started feeling strange about five minutes later. Why?”
“What is today!!??” Strange question.
“Um… Wednesday.” I replied.
“No! The date! The date! What is today’s DATE!?” Mom asked urgently. (hmmm… was Mom hitting the bottle or something?)
“Is this a test?” I quip.
“Think! Think of what today is! August 9th, 2006! What happened four years ago on August 9th at 8:30 in the morning!!??? Oh my GOD!!” Mom sounded really scared.
Then it hit me: At 8:30 AM on August 9th, 2002, my Father passed away of a fatal heart attack. Exactly the same time, exactly the same date, and just four years later, I nearly joined him.
My mother said solemnly, “Your Dad went to bat for you this morning, you know. He bought you more time! I can’t believe the coincidence! He had to have a talk with God or someone so you wouldn’t die this morning.”
Mom isn’t one of those prophetic crusaders or religious zealots or anything, but what she said sounded eerily like the truth to me somehow. I hung up the telephone and I kissed my fingertips and blew them into the air around me. “Thanks Daddy. I owe you one!” I whispered.
I then called one of my girlfriends. I told her Joey and I drove up to New Jersey to surprise everyone, and I ended up in Intensive Care instead. “Surprise!”
She said she’d let everyone else in our clique know what was going on, once she got finished crying. I told her, "Don't cry! I'm not DEAD yet!!"
I love my friends, but we all have our own unique idiosyncrasies.All given the same situation to deal with, you’d get a series of different reactions:I would crack inane jokes, one of my friends would laugh nervously, one would cry, one would become hysterical and literally jump up and down and would need to pass the phone to someone else, one would ask a gazillion questions, one would tell me to get a second opinion (even if it wasn’t a medical issue!), one would get angry and cuss like a drunken sailor, and one would become religious and start preaching. Our diversity is what keeps us together, I suppose.It also keeps Life interesting when we’re all out drinking together with our significant others! We laugh a HELL of a lot!
The next morning, I was taken to another floor to have a chemical stress test and an echocardiogram. They explained they would be injecting a chemical into my IV port and it would speed up my heart rate. It needed to reach a certain number of beats per minute, and they would be able to judge how much damage was done to my heart, thanks to the blood clots.
I was very uncomfortable, as I needed to use the bathroom… I had a catheter in place for liquids… but my stubbornness would not allow me to crap in a hat. NO FREAKING WAY. So I suffered in silence instead, and passed some Silent But Deadly farts that would make any big, burly, beer guzzling man jealous.
A Technician appeared and she checked my ID band around my wrist, compared it with her chart and introduced herself to me as Deirdre. She explained the procedure I’d be having in a few minutes, and said she’ll be by my side during the entire thing, and I need not be afraid… blah blah blah. She was very nice, and we chatted it up for a while. I commented that I wouldn’t be permitted to take a dump in anything but a hat unless I passed this test.
Deirdre looked at me like I was crazy, and said, “Come on! There’s a bathroom right here up the hall!”
I guess Deirdre didn’t know I was told to remain Horizontal until I passed the chemical stress test, but I didn’t care at that point. When ya gotta go… ya gotta go!
She disconnected my leads to the heart monitor, and helped me remove all the other encumbrances like the pulse/ox on my finger, the blood pressure cuff, etc. I needed to keep the Heparin IV in my arm, but I felt FREE!! I leaped off the gurney with gusto and followed Deirdre down the hallway, still sporting my dual Johnny gowns!
We reached two doors. One had the Male/Female symbol on the door, and the other had the words PHYSICIANS REST ROOM. She turned the knob of the Male/Female bathroom door, and someone inside said they were going to be there for a while. Deirdre looked up and down the corridor and told me they really aren’t permitted to use the Physician’s bathroom, but since I was already there…
She let me into the Physician’s rest room, and instructed me to pull my catheter forward so I could do my business and keep everything sanitary.
Bliss! Wonderful release! I haven’t ‘gone’ since we left our house 3 days earlier… so I felt wonderful! Deirdre, standing outside of the door, asked if I was all right… and I blissfully moaned, “Fine” as if I were experiencing an orgasm. She giggled through the door as I finished my business.
Then I flushed the toilet, and walked my IV stand over to the sink to wash my hands. As I tossed the paper towel into the trashcan, I realized the toilet took all the yucky stuff away, but the water was beginning to back up, filling the bowl of the toilet!!! I was horrified! I began to jiggle the toilet handle, and started to pray silently, “Down! Down! PLEASE!! Go DOWN!!”
As the water approached the rim, I threw open the door, rolling my IV pole out ahead of me, yelling, “Whoop! Whoop! Abandon ship! Head for the lifeboats! Women and Children first!”
Deirdre began to laugh, and then realized I wasn’t kidding. The toilet water was NOT going to stop filling up the bowl!
“Shit! [I'm sure no pun was intended!] It’s going to overflow!” she gasped, as she noticed a Doctor walking in our direction with a newspaper underneath his arm! The two of us shut the door to the Physician’s Rest Room and literally RAN back down the hallway (me pushing my IV stand ahead of me) to where my empty gurney waited against the wall. I leaped onto it, and quickly resumed my ‘horizontal’ position, as Deirdre quickly re-attached me to everything I was hooked up to before my bathroom break.
She picked up my chart and began to examine it with great interest as the Newspaper Doc walked past us.
“Deirdre! The chart! My chart is upside down!” I whispered to her, and she flipped my chart into its correct position with a giggle. “I hope I don’t get you into trouble.”
Newspaper Doc opened the door, and the water was already making its way out of the bathroom and out into the hallway. “Deirdre” he called, “Deirdre, did you just have your patient use the Physician’s rest room?”
Deirdre looked at me, and then at him and lied, “No, Doctor. Is there a problem?”
He smirked, obviously not believing her, and said, “The toilet is overflowing all over the place. You KNOW this rest room is for use only by physicians.You understand patients are NOT permitted to use this bathroom, correct?”
“Yes, Doctor, of course. If you’d like, I can call down to Maintenance and get someone up here with a mop.” Without waiting for his reply, she turned away from him, and headed for the nurses’ station to place the call, stifling a giggle.I did my imitation of a comatose patient on a gurney.
Newspaper Doc sniffed at me, turned on his heel and opened the now vacant Male/Female restroom door and slammed it closed behind him.
Deirdre returned to me on the gurney and her face was red from giggling. “Wow! That was a close one!” She smiled.
A young man, about Deirdre’s age, approached us.
“Hi Russell” Deirdre said. “What’s up?”
“Deirdre, your patient used the Doc’s bathroom. I saw you standing outside of the door asking her if everything was all right.”
“No, Russell, I was standing outside of the Male/Female bathroom door. You saw wrong.”
Immediately, I knew Russell was what I’d term an ‘ass kisser and a rat’. (Where I used to work, the place was LOADED with them!!) Russell smirked at Deirdre, and then he turned to me. “Did you, or did you NOT use the physician’s rest room?”
I looked incredulously at him and spoke to him with a voice that sounded like I had some mental issues, “Uh… duh… I used the baffroom wit da widdle pittchurs of the boy and girl on it. I dint see a baffroom wif a pitcher of a doctor on it.”
By the look Russell gave me, he wasn’t buying the mental patient reply.
“Listen! SOMEONE used the Physician’s rest room, and you and Deirdre are the only two people in this wing.”
“Wrong, bub.” I replied using my regular voice and my very pissed off tone.I propped myself up on my elbow and faced him, while giving him a once over with my evil eye glare: “YOU are in this wing too, Buster. And I can vouch for Deirdre’s whereabouts and she can vouch for mine. So YOU should make yourself scarce for when Doctor Newspaper comes out of that bathroom, all pissed off he had to place his golden ass onto the same toilet seat as the Commoners.”
Russell blanched, turned on his heel and disappeared without another word. Deirdre started laughing until her eyes filled with tears.
Finally, it was time to have my Echocardiogram and Chemical Stress Test. Deirdre and my Cardiologist wheeled me into the room, and soon, the tests were underway.
A little while later, while my heart was chemically induced to slam itself unmercifully against my rib cage for all it was worth, Russell opened the door and poked his head inside.
“Deirdre! Deirdre! I know who it was! It had to be Karl! I saw a comic book rolled up in his back pocket!”
Deirdre and I both of exchanged knowing looks and wide grins.She giggled, and I continued to listen to my heart doing drug-induced calisthenics and not enjoying it at all. After I failed my tests, I was back in the hallway, awaiting ‘transportation’ to take me back upstairs to Intensive Care. After waiting for over an hour, Deirdre phoned Intensive Care, and one of my new Nurse buddies I met from the day before came down to wheel me back to my room. Apparently the 'transportation' department was busy... transporting.
The Nurse from Intensive Care asked Deirdre where I was, and Deirdre said I was on the gurney against the wall. A seond later, I heard both nurses burst into laughter. I had pulled the white sheet up over my head, removed my non-slip socks, and had my now bare feet sticking out from underneath the sheet. I looked like a corpse, waiting my turn to see 'Dr. G. - Medical Examiner' or the guys from 'CSI'.
When I arrived back upstairs in ICU, it looked like a surprise party was planned for me! A bunch of my friends were there, as well as Joey and his Mom. My Mother-In-Law had tears in her eyes as they wheeled me into my room. That started my girlfriend Lynda to tear up.I started to recount my experiences regarding Newspaper Doc and the Physicians Rest Room, and had everyone laughing in no time flat.
(Story continues after photo below.)
PICTURED: Lynda, Jimmy, Richard, Me and Tony. Joey took the picture, and Dotty (my mother-in-law) was there as well. Richard got the biggest kick out of the sign above my bed. It was a person bent back-wards walking up the stairs. Until this day, I have no clue what that sign meant. So Richard made up his own meaning for it. LIMBO LESSONS? heehee
Two of the nurses from the desk came into my room, (I thought for sure they’d chase everyone out, but they came in to see what was so funny!) and joined the party.
I spent eight days in Intensive Care, and was moved over to Telemetry in Cardiac Care for another two weeks. During that time nearly every one of our friends came to see Joey and me, as well as some of my friends' parents! It was a lot of fun, even under the circumstances. The most people we had in my room at one time was 12!! (They have a very liberal 24-hour visitation schedule!)
We had planned to drive up to ‘surprise’ everyone… but the only one that ended up surprised was ME.I never realized how such a simple surgical procedure could result in such a serious illness. I had no clue how deadly blood clots were. After three weeks in the Hospital, I was discharged to return home… this time, we made sure to stop every hour or two to walk around and get the blood circulating.
I was supplied with loaded syringes of Lovenox to inject into my own stomach, as well as a load of prescription drugs. My Jersey doctors contacted my Family Physician in Florida, and by the time we arrived home, my Florida doctor had made appointments for me with a Pulmonologist, Cardiologist, Neurologist, Internist and Hematologist.
After my very first doctor’s appointment the day after we returned home to Florida, I was immediately admitted into the Hospital again, where I spent yet another week of poking and prodding… just to confirm everything the New Jersey doctors said was true?? Or just to run up my Insurance?? (A little of both??)
I just couldn't believe I was really that sick! I felt tired and a little weak, but I felt pretty good! But within two weeks of my Florida hospital visit discharge, I was back in again for three days, due to dizziness and short-term memory loss. (But I don't remember. heehee)
A week after my second hospital admission, I was admitted a third time for more testing. All of my medications needed to be changed; some eliminated, some new ones prescribed. I was highly allergic to most of the drugs they put me on, and I experienced every single negative side effect they were capable of. It literally took months to get my medications straightened out, and many more trips into the hospital for more tests, poking and prodding! Here I am now… a little more than two years since I first got sick, and I’m still working on getting back to feeling 100% ‘myself’... but all in all… I’m on the mend and finally beginning to feel stonger.
(Story continues after photo below.)
Me, back in the Hospital again in Florida... Blood Clots are Serious Business!!
My advice to anyone having surgery on his or her hip, knee or ankle: TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT LOVENOX.
I was told Lovenox should be administered to every patient after a procedure is performed on their lower extremities, because over 40% of all patients develop blood clots after surgery… and those clots could be avoided by one single injection after the procedure. (You won't even feel the little pinch.)
In addition, if you drive or fly anywhere, or even if you sit at your computer for hours at a time, BE SURE to get up and walk around for at least five minutes every hour or so, just to shake out your arms and legs to avoid clotting and to help keep yourself healthy!
This has been a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by CelluliteQueen.com.
NOTE: I've described everything as I remembered it; although some medical terminology, medical procedure and equipment names, etc. may not be 100% accurate. (I delivered Mail for a living; I am not a Medical Professional!)
The drugs Heparin and Lovenox are miracle drugs, and I'll never forget them, or how they both helped to save my life. (Several times!)
In addition: ALL names used in this story were changed for obvious reasons. (And just for the record: "Russell" really IS an ass kisser and a rat.)
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