I spent the last couple of days in the hospital for testing after having a “cardiac event”.  First of all, I’m all right. Here are some fun details about my stay.

Features:

  • 54 hours time served
  • 2 different hospitals
  • 14 hours in emergency
  • 5 blood tests
  • 20 vials of blood taken
  • 2 IV ports inserted; one regular and one XXL
  • 15 police officers present (not for me)
  • 3 patients who seriously lost their grip and got violent
  • 10 code whites (aggression–familiar to me as an Education Assistant)
  • 3 cardiologists
  • 3 EKGs
  • one angiogram (it’s nothing like a candygram), without enough sedation
  • one chest x-ray
  • one cat scan which required an XXL needle jammed into my vein 2 hours before the procedure (it jutted above my skin, hurt like a sonofabitch and left a ghastly bruise)
  • 4 heart-healthy hospital meals
  • heart monitor, oxygen finger tourniquet, blood pressure cuff (sized for a 6 ft tall man, it cut into my armpit and extended an inch past my elbow, couldn’t bend either arm) all of which had to be kept on at all times
  • one code red, hospital lockdown

Bonus extras:

  • fear
  • hours of waiting
  • hours of fasting
  • extreme thirst
  • super bumpy ambulance rides
  • scary low blood pressure (74/39) and pulse that kept my monitor ringing alarms
  • 4 different heart medications

Lessons learned:

  • if you think you’re having a heart attack (or an unkown scary cardiac event); go right away to the hopital and don’t drive yourself  there, get an ambulance! I fell back to sleep, then drove myself to emergency 4 hours later, after 30 minutes of driving around looking for a parking spot and walking downstairs from the 5th floor of the garage
  • bring something good (and long) to read
  • pack a lunch
  • bring extra water
  • have cash
  • be very patient
  • but advocate for yourself at all times
  • it is nice to have meals brought to your bed, no matter how  bad the meal might taste
  • adjustable hospital beds are great
  • most nurses remain kind and patient throughout 12 hour shifts

If you have to stay overnight, bring:

  • your own pillow (in a bright or colourful pillowcase to show it’s yours)
  • your own meds (I got my first dose of my regular meds one hour before I was discharged, after being there 2 and a half days, and giving my med list to every doctor and nurse I met)
  • lots to read
  • your own toiletries including shampoo
  • slippers!
  • tank tops are good for access to medical devices
  • lip balm
  • hand lotion (I sanitized my hands obsessively and they got really dry)
  • ear plugs
  • sleep mask
  • candies for dry mouth (water seems to be a precious commodity)
  • patience: there is no such thing as an appointment time for tests or procedures because anything can and will happen

The majority of hospital personnel were wonderful. One was indifferent and one was quite rough–see XXL needle. All the cardiologists were really friendly and down to earth. There was a volunteer at the hospital where I had the angiogram who told me about the procedure and scared the crap out of me. Turns out his version was a worst case scenario, and so not helpful! He started his story by saying, “Let me put your mind at ease”.

'The needle was THIS big!'

I was alarmed about my regular meds, nobody was concerned that days went by without me taking meds that you are not supposed to suddenly stop taking.

I learned that I have a heart condition called SVT (Superventricular tachycardia). http://www.emedicinehealth.com/supraventricular_tachycardia/article_em.htm

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT, PSVT) Overview. Supraventricular tachycardia is a rapid heart rate (tachycardia, or a heart rate above 100 beats per minute) that is caused by electrical impulses that originate above the heart’s ventricles.

Mine is on the serious side because my heart rate gets really fast and it lasts a long time, but it remains untreated. The med they tried me on was the one that made my blood pressure scary low.  Other than that, my heart and lungs are really healthy, so yay! I learned I am so much more patient than I thought it could be, but there are limits.

*This title is courtesy of my daughter’s text: “I’ve been waiting 25 minutes for my bus. I wish I was relaxing in the hospital”. (Jokes=Love).

 

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