Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Scary Stuff #2

I left a little tidbit out of my last post. I knew that after a long and boring weekend, I’d be having a cardiac catheter procedure to figure out why I had Congestive Heart Failure. For some reason this freaked me out. I knew I’d be sedated during the procedure, which I translated to being conscious. Dental work is bad enough, and I’m talking about fillings - with Novocaine - and I’m still stressed out and fearful. Can you imagine how freaked out I was for this procedure?

The time came and I was wheeled down to the cardiac suite prep area. Two nurses were assigned to me and they were like a comedy team. They had me at ease (-ish) and then they started checking through all my paperwork, asking me the usual questions; name, birth date, etc. It was then the theater of the absurd started…

“Is there any chance you’re pregnant?”


You have to realize that I had been irradiated every day I’d been there, at least once, since I was admitted to the ER. Every single time I had to go through the “name, birth date, etc” and “Any chance you can be pregnant?” routine. I’m sure the answer had been recorded every time, not to mention it hadn’t changed in four days.

“Are you sure?” one of the cardiac nurses asked me.

“Yes.” I tell her.

“Well, has anyone done a pregnancy test on you since you’ve been here?” she asked me but was looking at the nurse with the computer and my records.

“No. No one has done a test.”

“Can you get up and pee?” she asks me.

“No. I went before I came down here, so I won’t be able to go again. Besides… I’m not pregnant.”

“We need to do the test to be sure. We only need a little bit.”

I laughed, incredulous. “I’m fifty-three years old. I am single. I am NOT pregnant.”

“Are you telling us that you won’t let us do a pregnancy test on you?”

“Yes. I’m telling you that.” I mean, seriously. I know the whole “House” quote, “everybody lies”, plays into their thinking, but you’d think that what was good enough for the rest of the hospital’s technical staff would be good for these two.

“Will you sign a document waiving our responsibility if in fact you are pregnant?” one of them asked. Now they’re all business?

“Yes.” I said and laughed incredulously, again. Honestly. Crazy pants!

They brought the form over and I signed it. The joking and putting me at ease ended since I was now a pain in the ass patient. They wheeled me into the procedure room, I shuffled onto another table, which the doctor and technicians could move, tipping me in different directions to get whatever they needed right. Then came the sedation, and thank God, I was out like a light.

The Cardiologist saw me the next day with my results. The cause of my CHF is cardiomyopathy. (Here is the definition from the Mayo Clinic: a condition where the heart muscle is abnormal. Cardiomyopathy makes it harder for your heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of your body.)  The doctor told me that there are three causes of cardiomyopothy, heart attack, blocked arteries, and a virus. The cardiac cath ruled out heart attack and blocked arteries, which means this was caused by a virus.

Basically, sometime in the prior year to eighteen months, I caught a bug of some sort. We can’t pin down the exact time frame because I didn’t remember having a bad cold and definitely not a flu or anything. The virus that I caught decided to attack my heart and my heart won, although it took on a lot of damage. The poor little muscle was working at 25% of it’s normal capacity.

Don’t worry it’s better now. Through medication and time, my heart is working at 40-45% of normal.

The weird thing is that I don’t have viral cardiomyopathy, which is very rare and I only know the term from Beaches. It’s what the Barbara Hershey character dies from in the movie. I was envisioning needing a heart transplant, not getting one and passing away on the deck of a beautiful beach house. I told you I was bored. My imagination went crazy.

The rest of my stay in the hospital was incredibly boring. I looked forward to the daily visits from my family and for the times that the parade of crazy roommates would be out for testing or asleep so I would have some peace and quiet.

I was released from the hospital on January 19th. So today is a sort of anniversary, too.
So goes the beginning of my crazy year.

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