Where’s the Reset Button?

I’m beginning to think I may have to hit the reset button on 2019.  Things are not going the way I thought they would, certainly not the way I wanted them to — and I’m not even talking about Trump’s Reign of Stupidity.  

Two of my grandkids’ grandfathers died in January.  Jen’s father died New Year’s Day and Cory’s father died recently. Although both had other health problems, they ultimately died from heart attacks.  I’m sure their deaths played a part in why I ended up at the Emergency Room at Allenmore last Tuesday night.

My doctor switched my blood pressure medication after I complained of repeated episodes of gout from the diuretics.  About four hours after taking the new medication, my heart decided to explore new territory and started racing up to 140 BPM though I was just sitting on the couch watching television.  After an hour of monitoring it and having no luck getting it to drop back to normal with controlled breathing, I pushed the aFib button on my Apple watch and, for the first time ever, it flashed that I had aFib.

I debated calling 911, but since the pain didn’t seem as bad as it had been during my Father’s heart attacks,  I went to the nearest Urgent Care center instead where they “confirmed,” sort of, that I was having an aFib attack.  They sent me to the REAL  Emergency Room.  Because they sent the results ahead, I was seen promptly and blood samples and another EKG were taken. There were no rooms available, and we were sent to the waiting room.  After about an hour I was taken in for chest x-rays and sent back to the lobby to wait another two hours.  After awhile it became clear that this must not be an emergency because I wasn’t dead.  I assumed that if I’d really been having a heart attack I would have been seen much sooner — since I had medical insurance.

No longer focused on my imminent death, I started to look around. A woman approached and asked us if we had “a dollar.”  I thought she might need to make a call, but she came back with some food from the vending machine, laid down and went to sleep on the bench across from us.  I couldn’t  figure out if she was merely sleeping there because it was safer than sleeping in the streets or if she was waiting for someone who had been admitted.  Though she appeared to be one of the poorest of the people in the lobby, it was clear that poverty was a common denominator for many of the people there, which probably explained why she asked Leslie and I for money instead of someone else.  

There were a lot of very sick looking people who looked like they had avoided going to a doctor until they woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t stand it anymore.  Many doubled up in pain spent nearly as long in the lobby as we did. Mostly I was struck by how many of those awaiting care were young, too young to have to go through what they were going through.  I suspect that if they’d had more money, or medical insurance, they would have been sitting in a plush doctor’s office weeks ago and would have been able to avoid their current situation.  

I was even more shocked as I was finally escorted to an emergency room, the 14th room on the left.  Not only were all the rooms full, but hospital beds lined the opposite side of the hall with patients receiving transfusions and God knows what else.  I tried to keep my eyes pointed straight ahead, not wanting to look anyone in the eye. Meanwhile, Leslie and I both prayed we wouldn’t contract something far worse than what I already had.

We must have waited another thirty or forty minutes for a cardiologist to finally appear.  Despite the Urgent Care diagnosis, he wasn’t sure I had actually had an aFib attack at all; in fact, he seemed quite sure that it was a different kind of problem.  I think he wanted to leave it to me to decide how I wanted to go from there, but I replied that I would trust his judgement.  In the end he prescribed a blood thinner and referred me to a cardiologist, while suggesting it might take a month to actually get an appointment, another sign that whatever I had it wasn’t a true “heart attack.”

Relieved, but still a little shell-shocked by the whole evening, we started down the long hall to the lobby and our car.  Before we could escape. a loud buzzer went off just in front of us and a doctor raced past us announcing that the patient’s pulse in room 2 had just stopped.   Nurses came running from every direction, and we did our best to stay out of their way while still trying to leave without seeing any more than we had already seen.  

When I read “I can count my blessings and still be utterly overwhelmed and defeated at the same time. Just sayin’ “ on Facebook the next day,  I was amazed at how well it described my feelings as we drove home.

7 thoughts on “Where’s the Reset Button?”

  1. Damn, Loren!

    I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this, but so very glad you’re at home.

    Yeah, if there’s a chance you have aFib, you need to see the cardiologist. If this is the first time you’ve been on a blood thinner, definitely check to make sure it doesn’t have any issue with additional minerals or other meds you take.

  2. Yikes, Loren, that’s quite an ER experience. I do hope you’ll see a cardiologist just to make sure that everything is okay. I also wonder if your racing heart could be a rare side effect of the new blood thinner medication. My sister has spent many a night in ER with debilitating migraine headaches. The scene you describe is the same as she describes every time. Take care there, Loren.

  3. I had my first A-fib attack in June of 2001. The cardiologist described it as “more a nuisance than anything more serious” – I know now that isn’t really true, but it did make me calmer, which was probably his intent. I was 47 at the time. Had another episode about 3 years later, than another a coupe of years after that. They put me on an anti-arrythmic, which worked for about 4 years then stopped, and they switched me to another one, which worked for a few years until it stopped. That was in 2014, and they told me it was time for a cardiac ablation. Had that done in July 2014, and that fixed it. It isn’t a completely non-serious thing, but it also isn’t a super-serious thing, and they can, in many cases, fix it now. Good luck to you, and if you ever need to talk about it, I’m here.

  4. Don’t get me wrong – it’s scary as hell when it happens that first time, I’m not making light of it. But there’s a good chance they can get it under control for you.

    1. Actually it didn’t scare the hell out of me, it just made me worry more than I like to worry. I’d rather deal with it head-on than just worry about it without taking action. I may get back to you.

      I see a cardiologist tomorrow if I can make it there through our second snowstorm of the week.

  5. Gout seems to be a common side affect for a lot of blood pressure medication. For a while, my wife was taking Allopurinal (sp?) along side of her medication to keep the gout from flaring up. If your previous medication worked well for you, that might be an option.

    I hope they find the cause of your troubles, I hope it’s something they can treat, and I hope it’s affordable. I’m wishing you all the best!

    1. Now that I’ve had an aFib episode my doctor thinks they will put me on an entirely different blood pressure medication. I’m just waiting to see a cardiologist after the snow that has shut everything down around here. I’m more annoyed than worried.

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