Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back in the Hospital Part 1

Saturday night I started feeling some angina. I took my pulse and it seemed irregular to me. It also seemed very slow. The pain was worse than what I normally experience and I got concerned. I packed my laptop in case I was going to end up in the ER, but then I left it in my room as I went down to the lobby. I just wanted to talk to someone. Once there, the pain ebbed and flowed, and I finally asked the staff to call 911. I also asked them to go snag my backpack from my room. It's not like I'm obsessed with my computer or anything.

The paramedics arrived and the pain went away. This actually made me feel annoyed. I hate crying wolf. Fortunately, the pain came back. What a bass ackwards sense of priorities I have in those situations! The pain hit a 4 on the way in. Nitro helped. Once in the ER, I was at an ebb in the tide of angina, but it kicked up again. They gave me 1 mg of diladid which took the edge off considerably. a couple of hours later, they came back with my treponin level. It was elevated - .6. Based on that, they told me I was having a mild heart attack.

This is not what I wanted to hear. of course. It was a busy night, and there was someone ahead of me in the "cath lab" where they do angiograms. This was fortunate, because when a cardiologist got a look at my case, he called it off. It turns out that treponin levels can be elevated by many types of heart injuries, including those that you get during ablation surgery. They still had the fact of my angina to consider, so they admitted me. One more night in the hospital.

Once in my bed, at the opposite end of the five bed ward I was in last week, I tried to settle in to sleep. But the poor guy in the next bed was breathing harshly and coughing and moaning loudly. He would shout out for apparently nonexistent people. The nurse would come in and tell him he needed to wear his oxygen mask. He would argue the point, then comply. After that, he would sleep quietly for a while, then knock out his oxygen mask, after which the cycle repeated itself. I'm not sure how many cycles we went through that night, but I know I was awake for each of them.

Sunday morning, I got the news that I was "NPO" and couldn't eat or drink anything, This is standard procedure when you come in from the ER. Until a doctor looks your case over, nobody can tell if you might end up in surgery or need a test that requires fasting. I was waiting for the doc to show up for a couple of hours or so, Then came the word that he had refused to look at my case, because of the complexity. He handed off responsibility to the cardiologist I had seen the night before. So I waited for another couple of hours for that doctor to show up. When they chased him down, he pushed the decision back on the first doctor.

When troubleshooting network problems, and at other times, there's a phenomenon I call "blame deadlock." That's where two or more parties point fingers at each other in a loop. It's like a mobius strip with Escherian ants crawling along it. Each ant's head always points at the butt of the next ant in the line. The whole group keeps on marching ad infinitum. These doctor's had their noses firmly pushed into each other's butts.

The nurse finally broke the deadlock. Predictably, the cardiologist got his way, and I talked to the other doc. But before that, he had lifted the NPO order. Of course, the problem then became ordering a lunch tray late. This process always takes about an hour, and this time was no exception.

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