Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dying is a weird feeling . . .


. . . particularly when one has no warning whatsoever that it's on the agenda!

I've never had any heart disease problems - not so much as a twitch from that organ. I've been shot (and shot back), hit by vehicles (accidentally and deliberately), been through eighteen years in a fairly rough civil unrest situation, but never had to worry about my heart. I'd learned the classic symptoms of heart disease, of course, along with the other basics of first aid (chest pain/discomfort; radiated pain and discomfort into other parts of the upper body, including the arms; shortness of breath; and related symptoms such as cold sweat, nausea and lightheadedness), but only as an academic exercise.

So, on Monday morning, I set off about my activities without a second thought. The previous week had been unusually busy, physically demanding and a mental strain, as I'd sold my house and moved into rented accommodation for a few months. I had to get a last couple of belongings I'd forgotten, drop off another key to my old place, and do a number of other things.

It was at a local store that I began to feel rather strange. My chest began to hurt, and simultaneously the same sort of pain - and the same intensity - started showing up at the back of my left upper arm. The combination did not please me. Surely it can't be a heart attack?, I remember thinking to myself. That would be too stupid for words! It was still fairly mild - so against all my training (which was that one never ignores such clues), I continued with my day's errands.

That didn't last long. By the time I got home, in early afternoon, the pain was getting worse, and I was getting worried. I picked up the phone and called my physician, getting through to his nurse, and asked her for her advice. It was, of course, to to do what I should already have done - get my butt down to the hospital! Sighing, I headed for the bedroom to throw a few clothes together, still refusing to believe that this could possibly be anything serious. However, as I did so, I became suddenly light-headed, adding yet another piece of evidence to the puzzle - and by now I was seriously worried. I stopped fooling around, and called for an ambulance.

As luck would have it, my new place is only a minute or two away from one of the assembly points for Ambulance Driver's employers, and two ambulances were outside almost faster than I could put down the phone. The paramedics came in, took one look at me, glanced at each other, and had me sitting down right then and there. They deployed their EKG machines simultaneously, slapped the electrodes on my chest, took a reading, and said with one voice, "Oh, sh-i-i-i-t . . ." (AD says this is described in medical circles as 'a clue'. Srsly.)

Well, things got seriously out of my control, right then and there. Within seconds I was strapped to a stretcher and being wheeled out to an ambulance. A paramedic interviewed me in the ambulance while another sprayed nitro under my tongue, popped two huge pills into my mouth to lower my blood pressure 'faster than the Space Shuttle leaving orbit', gave me a few aspirin to chew, and had me swallow half a bucket of water to get the rest down: and then made me re-swallow another round of pills as a sudden bout of nausea came out of nowhere to make me regurgitate them all. Tthen it was hey-ho for the hospital at a heck of a speed, me being tossed all over the stretcher, and the paramedic not looking particularly worried about that as he fed me doses of nitro every three minutes.

I was rushed through into the emergency room at the run, and my clothes were already being ripped off as they connected me to their own EKG's and confirmed the readings radioed to them by the paramedics. Another simultaneous "Oh, sh-i-i-i-t," and they had me on my way to the cath lab, cutting my trousers off rather than waste time removing them in more traditional manner. I tried to protest such indelicate haste, but no-one seemed to be too willing to listen as they slammed a few syringes of local and other anaesthetic into me for a heart catheterization, to see what was going on in there. I can remember the walls fading out, the lights flickering and dying one by one, as a minister came rushing up to give me a belated blessing, and not being able to hear him as the third light went down, then the second, and at last the only remaining one, and for a moment I remember being absolutely terrified that I couldn't see or hear anything any more, and would I ever wake up? Then it all faded out . . .

Clearly, I did wake up again, and I've made a recovery from quadruple bypass surgery, for which (and for your prayers) I'm profoundly grateful. Still, there was a time on Monday afternoon that I wasn't so sure. Here's hoping I can avoid such adventures in future!

Peter

36 comments:

JPG said...

Peter - -

It's great to see you back on the 'net, podnuh. The Power of Prayer, and all that.

Just take it easy and follow your health care professionals' instructions.
JPG

Anonymous said...

Great to see you made it through. I had a similar experience, and am now almost 6 weeks out from getting a triple bypass (at the ripe old age of 37). Mostly the same symptoms as you, but my EKG never showed ANY problem at all (so it took longer to get the nitro and other goodies).

In any case, take care, be careful getting up and hang on to that chest pillow!!!

You will be amazed at how quickly you'll feel better, and stronger. You'll also be annoyed at the physical restrictions the docs will give you. Listen to them!!!

leadchucker said...

Glad to see you back. Take care of yourself!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

It is good to see you up and running again, so to speak. I'm glad you made it through this.

Here's to a speedy, full recovery (on that Doctor's schedule man, not the one you'd like!).

Castr8r said...

Very happy to have you back! It sounds like you were well cared for in spite of your best efforts...
(I do the same thing.)

Radagast said...

Glad to see you back online. You had us all worried for a while.

Julie said...

Good to see you back online Peter ... here's to this being a "once off".

eriko said...

I am happy to see that one epitaph was not followed by another. I am not a person of faith but you give me faith in those that are. Here to a few more turns around the sun for us all.

from a stranger in the PNW

Vonster said...

Good to see you getting better Peter. Very descriptive of your experience. I would think doctors would cloak their feeling more rather than let you hear their surprise?

Thank you again for everything you post, I really enjoy it all.

Noons said...

Man! What an adventure!
Good to see you back on board, Peter. NO repeats, OK?

tjbbpgobIII said...

Anon. at 8:11pm I was the same age as you the first time. You are right about the chest pillow and I hope he doesn't sneeze like I do. It hurts.

Strings said...

No doing this again, Peter: you know I have people down thataway... >:|

Glad you're back: Spoon and I send best wishes!

mostly cajun said...

Delighted to see you made it. Gives hope to the rest of us old farts...

MC

Dave S said...

Welcome back!

:0)

Dave S

Miz Minka said...

So glad you're back to blogging! I think you were pretty lucky, considering how long you ignored those earlier symptoms. Thank G-d you're on the road to recovery now! Thoughts and prayers sent your way.

WR Olsen said...

KatyBeth Grayson needs an influancing figure in her life (in addition to AD) and it looks like you have been selected for the job. So for her sake (and for the enlightenment of the rest of us) please keep yourself in good health for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Raven Padre

Welcome home!

Raven Steve

Anonymous said...

Obvious from the comments how many of us have been with you in Spirit. I join those others in being most happy and grateful for your recovery.

Yours is the first blog I visit every day, and we'd all like to have you with us for a good long while yet.

Welcome back. Peace and good health to you.

Goatroper

Murphy said...

Allright!

Here's to plenty of nice uneventful days for your immediate future.

m.

Tom said...

Peter, it's good to see you posting again! Your blog is the only one that I check everyday without fail and I frequently relay your interesting and varied stories to friends and relatives. It sounds like you are very lucky that competent help arrived so quickly.

Take care of yourself. You are still in my thoughts and prayers.

Mark said...

Welcome back, get your strength back, and IN TIME get back to hittin' them keys. The internet can wait a little while for your wisdom (ahem, yea, right). You know what I mean!

tomcatshanger said...

The things we really should pay attention to some times hu?

Congratulations sir! Here's hoping you a speedy recovery.

Max Drive said...

You, Sir are a tough man.

Glad to see you back. Go slow and fully recover.

Congratulations on your return from the "dark side."

Christina LMT said...

So glad to see you up and about (so to speak!). Please take it VERY easy during your recovery. We readers of yours are a selfish bunch, you know...we don't want to lose you OR your writing! ;)

Crucis said...

AD gave us an update over at his blog. Glad to read the good news and that you're up and about---mostly. Take it easy and recoup.

Jim March said...

Dude! You scared the crap outta us!

Oh man...could have been worse. Don't do that again! :)

Old NFO said...

Welcome Back Peter...oh yeah, the pants, well they are replaceable, YOU aren't...

Peter said...

Peter,
I am very glad to see you are back writing. I hope you have a quick and smooth recovery.
Godspeed

Evyl Robot said...

My family and I were praying for you. I'm glad to see you're back!

Brigid said...

I couldn't believe it when I heard it after I returned from the mountains. You are much too young and hearty for this, but any of us over 40 are at risk. I'm glad you pulled through and are able to communicate with us.

Here's some prayers headed your way.

militant_marmot said...

Glad you are up and about. Hoping you are feeling better soon. Best wishes!

Shell said...

Welcome back, Peter. May your recovery be speedy and thorough. God bless.

Shell

Dante said...

Glad you stayed out of the light. It would have made Al Gore cry to have his interweb diminished by losing the likes of you from its blog roll.

Stay on this side of the veil for a bit longer if you please. We’d miss ya’.

Matt said...

Good to see you back at it and in good spirits.

fuzzys dad said...

I am happy to hear your getting back on track.You are now a member of the zipper club. My wife is a member.

Grace Bridges said...

Out of the loop for a couple of weeks and see what I missed! Flip, man, you just take care and rest up!