Busy week with lots of new experiences, as trips to the hospital tend to provide. I've acquired a new vocabulary: Q waves, troponin levels, stent, LAD. A new diet: low fat, low salt. And new medications: aspirin, a Beta blocker, an ACE inhibitor, and nitroglycerin. Yup, I had a heart attack.
When I woke at midnight with heavy pressure on my chest I thought: the cat. It must be the cat sitting on top of me. But it wasn't heavy enough and there was no purring going on.
It's interesting how we react to these things. My first thought was to brush my teeth. I rattled around a bit and looked online at the Mayo Clinic site for the symptoms of a heart attack. (Hint, if you find yourself looking up heart attack symptoms at 12:15 AM, you are probably having a heart attack.) Eventually I woke Wilhelm who drove me to the emergency room. Took us 4 minutes to get to the hospital.
Though my initial EKG was uninteresting they put me in a bed anyhow, and started treating me for nausea. For six hours I took up an ER bed while they gave me aspirin, Maalox, and nitroglycerin.
After all that slow-motion low-level treatment things suddenly took off when they gave me a second EKG and the second set of blood tests came back. Between the time Dr Haggerty said to me, "You are having a heart attack" and when Dr Hostetler began a cardiac catheterization was less than 20 minutes. I didn't have the hiccups after all.
Thursday I was pretty sick, until a nurse named Ken found somethng to get rid of my nitro headache. Nurses are incredibly important when you're in a hospital bed. Thursday night I got less than no sleep. It's a cliche that they wake you up every hour to ask if you're sleeping ok. And I do understand that they have to take your blood pressure and draw blood, and that they might want another EKG. But the need to sign Medicare papers at 2 AM escapes me.
Friday morning The Fair Elaine came to visit me! She brought a tiny antique bottle wrapped at the neck with a little bit of lace and with some alyssum from her garden -- the lovliest and most appreciated flowers I've ever been given. And more important, she had picked out a book for me. Winnie the Pooh.
I'm not sure she (and her mom and baby brother, whom I am always tempted to call Kanga and Baby Roo) realized the situation I was facing. Finally feeling well and nothing to read except those afore-mentioned Medicare forms. Not a book in sight. The Cardio ward (everybody in the hospital abbreviates everything - cardio, cath, nitro, BP) does not have a library, more's the pity.
Four days in Bed 1, Room 603, Ward 6 North, Providence Sacred Heart Hospital. And now I'm home, surrounded by books, required to take my blood pressure every day, and on a slowly building exercise program: three walks a day, starting with three minutes each, adding a minute every day. And a whole new subject, heart health, to read about. Book recommendations gratefully accepted.