Getting To The Heart Of It

  • Wednesday / September 3, 2014
The Sarcoid Life: 1,25 dihydroxy-vitamin D or The Things We Learn Whether We Want To Or Not!

Getting To The Heart Of It

A Man Walks Into An ER …

There’s a joke in here somewhere, I’m still searching for it. ‘Cause right now I’m more serious than a heat attack! Boom! No. Didn’t have one. But my chest sure was hurting enough — this man walked ino an ER …

It started over the weekend. I was feeling even more shitty than normal. And that’s saying a lot! Because these past several months I’ve been feeling pretty shitty! This current round of “Stump The Doctors” was becoming more frustrating than usual.  You are hypothyroid. You’re not hypothyroid. But no matter the diagnosis … I’m still too damn tired!

The Endless Summer …

I lost an entire summer to ill health! It’s Memorial Day … oops … Labor Day weekend already? How can that be? I’m feeling poorly & I’m not sure what to do. I scrape through the weekend, alone. Just me & the kitties. I had barely enough energy Sunday to drive the mile to Wegmans for some necessities. I make diner, watch a little TV and off to bed. Monday morning. Not much better. I slept nine hours, but feel like I slept zero. Throughout the day I’m experiencing pain on the left side of my chest. I’ve felt this before. It comes & it goes. I get a little worried. I muddle through Tuesday, still tired, still pain in my chest. I decide it’s time to bite the bullet and go to the ER.

I arrive at 3:40-ish PM. I get signed in. In the waiting room I text my friend Gina, whom I had been talking to earlier. By 4:00 PM I’m moved into the interview/intake area of the ER. The nurse asks, “why are you here” and I proceed to unravel the litany of what’s going on currently & what has gone on … all summer. Eventually I end up in an ER curtained room where vitals as well as an EKG are taken. Once done I’m put in a rolling recliner in the hallway, where I wait. And wait. And wait.

During the wait, I’m reading the Rob Lowe biography “Stories I Only Tell My Friends”. Good thing I brought my iPad, iPhone & chargers. Never leave home without them! Especially when you know you’re going to be in the ER for a while. Little did I know how long that would be!

Oh The Things You Hear … Dear John!

When I was first walked into the curtained room, I noticed a middle-aged African American man strapped to a bed, in one of the “real” rooms on the right side of the hallway. In the second or two, I saw his face, I saw bloody red scrape marks where his face hit the ground—repeatedly. It was accented by patches of white gauss and tape, on his right cheek and over one eye. The momentary visual was quite disturbing. But common fair for an ER, I would imagine.

For the hours that I spent in the recliner, the battered and quite inebriated man, regaled the entire ward with histrionics, that were upsetting to most, but sounded to me, like a master playing The Dozens. Oh … he was good! Problem was, he’s playin’ with anyone who walked by or tried to come into the room. Every nurse and doctor in the ER knew “John”!

“Hey BITCH! You’re mother came over last night! She sucked my cock! Damn she was good! I forgot to give her the sevens dollars!” Then you could hear the guttural yelps of a man mid-yet-extended orgasm. He’d stop for  a beat or two, then he’d just scream at the top of his lungs, in his broken-down, deep raggedy voice, “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeep me!” It got even funnier when a younger African American Woman, no relation to John, was both egging him on and trying to comfort him. She evidently had her drink on too. John would say something more outrageous than the next. Or he’d find a particularly “fun” phrase and repeat it over and over again, AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS!!!! It’s amazing the amount of stamina this guy had. I did realize how sad his situation was, but he was so loaded … he just didn’t care!

At one point I’m taken off to get a chest X-ray, then brought back to my wall seat. John is still raging against the machine! At one point a nurse or orderly is sent into the room and John starts in on a new  rant … “Hey HOMO! Get the fuck out of my room! Who the fuck sent a HOMO into my room. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeep me! There a HOMO in my room!!!” Sorry, but I was cracking the fuck up! OMG!!! I hear some guy behind me “oh that’s not nice, a good friend of mine is gay”. I want to stand up in a show of solidarity with John “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeep me! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeep me! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeep me!” “Cause on this post-Memorial Labor Day Tuesday after three hours in that hallway …we all needed help … no matter how you say it! John, most of all! He also defecated  himself, and was left to sit in his own feces for hours, because no one wanted to deal with him or clean him up. “I shit myself! Come wipe my ass!” Help indeed! Welcome to New Jersey baby!

Room With A View …
Getting To The Heart Of It 1

Three hours of listening to John rant and people’s disgust or indifference were certainly enough horrific entertainment for one day! I was relieved get out of the hallway & put into a private ER room. And there I waited. And waited and waited. So I read and read and read. Every once in a while a nurse would come in to do blood pressure,  pulse ox, check the vitals … dollar gas! And every once in a while I’d just stare out my room with a view at the cute guys working the main ER desk. Woof!

Getting To The Heart Of It 2

It’s now 9:00 PM. I’ve been pushed, poked, prodded, and leached. Finally! A doctor arrives with some results. He looks over the EKG readout, silence. He opens his computer, and starts asking questions. We go over history. I have to PROD him for test results. “Noting remarkable, except elevated creatine levels in your kidneys”. Yup, my nephrologist says … nothing to worry about.

Mystery doctor is there for maybe ten minutes, telling me that they want to keep me for observation. They also want to set me up for the nuclear stress test the insurance company has been ducking. Now that you’re in the ER, it’s easier to push it through. My reaction: Don’t tell me you’re going to keep me unless you have the thing BOOKED and it’s actually going to happen. “Yeah … we’ll make it happen.” And with that, mystery doctor disappears … never to be seen again!

Two hours pass, I flag down a nurse. Did the doctor book my stress test? “I don’t think so” Um well … if this is NOT going to happen … then get me released ASAP … I just want to go home! I’ll check into it.

An hour later … “… they’re getting you a room. They want you to stay.” Huh? What? Stress test? “No. They wouldn’t be able to book a stress test until tomorrow.” So this doctor just lied to me? “I don’t know.” Hmmm ….

I’m wasted by now. I haven’t eaten since the banana I ate when I left for the ER at 3:00 PM. I’ve been in the ER for nearly eight hours! I’m really pissed and just give in. Okay! I’ll stay for observation. As long as John isn’t anywhere in earshot, yeah I’m good. Hell … I brought earplugs anyway … a good scout come prepared!

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling … Keep Those Patients Rolling …

It’s now 1:00 AM! I’m finally rolled out of the ER and am pushed clear across multiple buildings to the cardiac care unit. This nurse got a serious workout! Luckily I get a private room! Der is a Gawd! Oh look … more paperwork to sign! More questions to answer! But I did get a tuna fish sandwich on a hospital Kaiser roll! I ate it greedily. Got hooked to a portable wireless chest monitor, well there were wires attached to me … just none to keep me in bed. Once wired, some more vitals, and I can finally go to sleep! Ear plugs in … good night nurse!

Three hours later. Some guy rolls in a cart, turns on the light … SURPRISE … more vitals and a quick EKG. Back to sleep. Around 7:00 AM some guy from maintenance comes in with a ladder to fix my pull curtain. WTF!!?? Roll back over. An hour later … a cheerful nurse … more vitals! Ugh! More sleep! Around 9:00 AM breakfast. Mmmm food! Okay hospital food. Sulfured scrambled eggs, and some meat product masquerading as Canadian bacon, fresh fruit, orange juice, and oatmeal. I pretty much eat it all & make the best of hospital sustenance. When my tray is taken away, another cheerful woman comes in for my lunch order. I give it and she’s on her way.

Doctor! Doctor! Is There a Doctor In The House!

It’s now almost 10:30 AM. Still no doctor. I ask the nurses if I’ve been scheduled for a nuclear stress test. They say no. Not yet. We have to wait for the doctor. Tap, tap tap. Wait, wait, wait. I’m getting angrier by the second. I have an endocrinologist appointment at another hospital in Long Branch I’m supposed to be at, at 11:30 AM. I had to wait a month to even see her! I now have to call and cancel! Thanks y’all!

Sometime after noon, the doctor finally rolls in. So doc, will I be getting a stress test today? “No. We found an abnormality in your EKG. I’d rather you go for a cardiac catheterization. Then we know what’s really going on.”

First off … WHAT? There was abnormality in my EKG? WTF!!! Um … why didn’t the doctor in the ER see this? “We can set you up for this tomorrow or the day after. You’ll spend the night. And maybe we can do it tomorrow.” Spend another night? No fucking way Jose! He started getting very aggressive and condescending. I turn to him and say … I don’t want to turn this into a pissing match! I’ve dealt with too many doctors having gone through the diagnosis of my Sarcoidosis. I KNOW an advocate when I hear one. You’re not one! I want to speak to MY cardiologist Dr Pinnelas, and once he and I go over all the data, WE’LL make a decision. I want to be released, now!

And that was that. Well … not until he wanted me to be sure that neither he nor the hospital was liable, “for my bad decision”. And if anything happened after I left, it was my decision that precipitated it, not his. Thanks doc for your concern & fuck you very much!

Within an hour I was sprung and on my way home. Once home I made my doctor appointments. I see my cardiologist on Friday. I wait his input. My endocrinologist? You guessed it … ANOTHER month away!

And that friends, is how I spent my last few days! Happy Memorial Labor Day! Oh yeah … it was memorable laborious alright!

“Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeep me!” That’s certainly getting to the heart of it!

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Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his two cats rocky & rose & living to tell tales about it

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