The Rhythm Is Inside Me

Saturday was an interesting adventure, and nothing at all how I expected to spend my day. I had planned to finish cleaning up the living room, go through the shed to gather up all the Christmas stuff, and decorate the tree. Ha! Yeah, none of that happened.


It actually started on Thursday, with what felt like a lump in my throat that wouldn’t go away, in spite of eating and drinking . On Friday, the “lump” felt lower and hurt more when I swallowed. By Saturday, swallowing was impossible (even water) and the pain was radiating across my left chest. After much deliberation, we decided it was better to be safe than sorry, so we headed down the street and across the highway to the regional heart hospital.

The nurses there kicked ass, and the doctor was useless (pardon my belief, but in my experience, most doctors ARE completely worthless). This is a tiny hospital in a city full of giant hospitals, so there was no one in the waiting room. I got to the triage desk and the instant I said “chest pain,” they ushered me back and hustled.

My two nurses (one male, one female) could not have been better. The male nurse typed all my info into the computer while the female nurse attached a shitload of leads all over my body (I’m still finding them like Easter eggs), and hooked me up to various monitors. She drew about a gallon of blood and set up a heparin lock IV port, and did an EKG. The first one was too wiggly so they did a second one. The doctor looked at it and said it was still wiggly, and I needed a third EKG. That one finally came out better. I asked if that meant it was good because there wasn’t anything wrong, or because they could see it better. She said it was because they could read it better. That was sooo reassuring.  After I was situated, they let my husband come back with me. He said the loud alarm I kept hearing happened every time my heart rate went over 125 bpm. So my heart rate was high and my blood pressure was low, at 109/77.

Eventually, the doctor came back in, and while staring off into the space somewhere above my head, he told the air that my d-dimer (one of the cardiac enzymes) was high. All signs pointed to a pulmonary embolism, and I needed a contrast dye test to check the function of my lungs and pulmonary artery and vein. FUN! Because guess what?? I’m ALLERGIC to contrast dye. Fortunately, there was a different test that they could run, but they didn’t have the equipment there to do it. What? I thought this was a heart hospital?

Ron and I wouldn’t have been so worried if it weren’t for the fact that I spend a disproportionate part of my day sitting down. I sit way longer than the length of an air flight, but people can suffer from DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in that short amount of time. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that I could have DVT that threw a clot.

The female nurse came in to give me aspirin in case I was having a cardiac event, and some Ativan in case I was just anxious. I know anxious. We’re best buds. I knew that if nothing else, I was not having an anxiety attack. Needless to say, long after the Ativan kicked in, I was still having horrible chest pains. However, since I was falling asleep anyway, I sent Ron home. We literally live five minutes away, so he could be back if it turned out to be anything serious.

Sending him home was a good decision, because it took SIX HOURS for them to arrange for radiology at a different hospital and line up an ambulance to take me there and back (my wallet was screaming in agony when I heard that part). By this time, it was midnight. My cell phone was about to die, and there was almost no cell service in the ER, so once we were in the ambulance, I called my mom and my husband. That was pretty much all I got in, as it only took ten minutes to get to the other hospital.

The radiologist there was super cheerful and almost giddy. In spite of that , he did seem to know his stuff. He got me settled onto the frightfully small table, then pushed a radioactive isotope through my IV port, followed by saline. I hate when they do a saline push, because I can taste it in my mouth. It’s weird, and tastes like Pine Sol smells, if you mixed it with salt.

Although he technically wasn’t supposed to tell me anything (God forbid someone other than a doctor give out information), he winked at me and said everything looked good. While that was rather ambiguous, it actually was reassuring as opposed to the nurse and the EKG.

As we were leaving the hospital, they wheeled me past a guy on another stretcher and all I could see was his arm and the side of his head. He was covered in blood. I thought he must have been shot (this hospital is downtown, so a gunshot wound is most likely), but the EMT said he was a stabbing victim. Just as they lifted my stretcher into the ambulance, one of the security guards came outside and told the EMTs that the hospital was on lockdown, and they couldn’t leave. However, my rather large, burly EMT said we were out of the hospital before they locked it down, so we were leaving. He didn’t phrase that as a question, either.

I asked why the hospital was on lockdown. They said when there is a patient who looks like they have been a victim of a violent attack, they shut everything down to keep their attacker(s) from coming into the hospital to finish the job. I know I’d seen such things on TV, especially on E.R., but I didn’t think it happened in real life. Either way, I was really glad we were out of there, because the idea of lying on that stretcher for who knows how long was not the least bit appealing.

By the time we got back to the first hospital, the radiologist had read the scan, and said everything was fine, and there were no clots in or around my lungs. This was relayed to me by Doctor NoEyeContact, who again reported the results to the air above my head.

Here’s my favorite part: he said, “Your chest wall pain is from your fibromyalgia.” Um, no. No, it’s not. I’ve had fibro since I was at least 14, if not younger, and I’ve never had a pain like that. I’m not saying I don’t have chest wall pain from my fibro…I do. ONLY if someone pushes on the cartilage on or around my ribs. Unless someone or something is exerting pressure, it doesn’t just hurt. Or I should say, it wouldn’t hurt when I swallow. Doctor NoEyeContact told me to follow up with my GP in two days (in other words, Monday…not counting the fact that it was 3am). I love that my GP thinks most other doctors are useless, too.

After my scary 12 hour hospital adventure, Ron has been reminding me to get up and walk around every hour or so, and to be more active. I haven’t argued with him. I get up to get my own water/orange juice/milk, I don’t let my computer game determine when I can go to the bathroom (yes, I know it has a pause button!), and I’m just trying to be more active in general. It’s really hard to do when walking to the laundry room and back requires a half-hour nap, but I do it.

So today, I dragged Aubrey out of bed (with her muttering, “Are you fucking kidding me?”); we went out to the shed, dug out all the Christmas stuff, and put it on the basketball court. No, we are not rich; the people here before us were weird, and put in a half-size basketball court, which takes up the majority of the backyard.  After we had everything out, I told her to put it on the porch and Ron could bring it inside tonight. We both looked at the porch that is covered in all the stuff from the laundry room, and can’t go back in until the laundry room is painted. I was irritated enough that I had a surge of energy, and started to paint the damn walls.

The color is lovely, and so much better than the fluorescent lime green that was the previous color (put there by the basketball court people). I managed to get approximately six feet by 8 feet rolled on before I needed a break. At this rate, I should have it done by the end of the week. I don’t care. It will be done, and that’s all that matters. Plus it will keep me from sitting on my ass all day, risking a blood clot to the lungs. Seems like a fair trade.

“the rhythm has my soul…”


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