I am safely at home on our comfy couch writing this while my wonderful wife cooks a real, palatable, non-hospital meal. The doctors wanted to keep me in hospital because they had ordered a echocardiogram and they wanted to make sure it got done while I was still admitted. Apparently the ultrasound department tends not to get around to completing such requisitions very quickly unless the patient is already in the hospital. So I am still in hospital… at home.
This latest adventure all started with a visit to Wendy’s grandbabies on Easter Sunday. For a while now I have been feeling increasingly weak, or decreasingly strong, as most of you know. On Sunday, without any appreciable exertion, I managed to wind myself to the point of chest pain, palpitations, radiating pain and dizziness. It passed in a half hour or so after taking an antacid so we concluded severe heartburn. I thought we should probably mention it to the medical oncologist at my pre-chemo appointment yesterday. She immediately postponed chemo and strongly recommended I get my denial riddled ass down to the emergency department.
You’ll remember my posts about how the emergency departments get shit done. They can get X Rays, CT scans or blood tests done in minutes or hours instead of days, weeks or even months when your GP requests them. In the time I was there, I was X rayed, CT scanned, blood tested 5 times and saw the ER physician and three specialists. Impressive. No?
There is, however, a significant difference between being “admitted” to hospital via the ER and being admitted for a planned procedure. When they plan for your arrival, there is a room waiting for you with a proper hospital bed and all of the privacy, wifi and tv you can afford. In Emergency, you get to wait amongst lines of stretchers while the triage nurses identify your priority, then they plant you on another stretcher behind a thin curtain with a screaming trauma victim on one side and a vocally competing drug addict on the other. A stretcher is not, and I by my sore bones repeat, not, a bed. When I was “admitted”, the doctor told me I would be on the list for a real bed in a real room as one became available. Never happened. Emergency wards are not, my friends, a place that you want to try and sleep. Avoid them. Unless you really need to get shit done.
The results of the shit they got done for me yesterday are not good news. It seems I have a visible thromboembolus straddling the bifurcation of the main pulmonary artery trunk. In real english, that’s a big nasty blood clot in my lung that has caused a shortage of blood to my heart which in turn caused the chest pain and maybe damage to the heart muscle. A deadly combination if not caught early enough. It was caught early enough. I will never make any assumptions about medical matters again. I’m going to have my next surgeon remove my denial gland.
Those of you with a keen appreciation for irony will love the treatment plan. I’m sure the mischievous deities patronizing irony in medicine are laughing their eternal asses off. Remember when I came home from the surgery that turned my colon into a semicolon? I arrived packing a stack of syringes loaded with a drug called Heparin; specifically designed to, you guessed it, prevent exactly the sort of blood clot they found yesterday in my main pulmonary artery trunk. That’s not the ironic part. I hated those syringes and dreaded the daily chore of stabbing one into my abdomen. The hatred and dread were only tempered by the countdown to stab freedom as the stack got smaller one needle at a time. That last needle was plunged into my bruised and pockmarked belly with pure joy. Guess what, I get to do it again. Every day for the rest of my life. You gotta laugh. I did.
The cardiologist followed that body blow with a lightning fast double jab. She told me I would stay in hospital at least another night to facilitate an efficient echocardiogram, and there was no room and real bed available. Worse, because I no longer needed close monitoring, I was summarily transferred back to triage and stuffed into a remote corner that brought tears to Wendy’s eyes. That’s when she took charge.
Within minutes she had two separate nurses on the phone to the doctor to argue for a “pass” so that I could come home for the night without being discharged from the hospital. Something the doctor herself never thought of until the nurses conveyed Wendy’s sound argument. A quick Heparin shot and the extraction of a promise to be back promptly at 7:00 AM and I was out the door.
So I am amending my previous statement that Emergency Wards get shit done. It’s ER Nurses, under the firm hand of my darling wife, that really get the best shit done.