I’ve been away

Originally uploaded by StarbuckGuy

I’m writing this blog entry on my Linux laptop while sitting up in my hospital bed. I’d been getting a little bored during my stay, but once we heard that the hospital had a wireless Internet service, Marion brought me my laptop and I gave it a try. Bingo. Connected. A modest fee paid for a few days of service and here I am.

It all started a week ago, Friday, 11-April-2008, when an increased amount of angina pain that had gone on for a few days looked like a change from the milder pains to which I was accustomed. Marion and I agreed that a call to 911 was in order. Right after I had a chance to shower and enjoy a fine home-food meal. So, we casually called 911 and the big fire engine arrived shortly followed by the paramedics with an ambulance. They’re trained to take chest pains very seriously so I was bound onto a gurney and scooted up to Trillium hospital, a short five minutes or so away.

There I was stacked in the hallway with all the other patients waiting admission into an emergency room. The place was full up, as usual. But after about seven sprays of nitro with no subsiding of the pain and a steadily low BP reading, I was given a room. Blood work was done and an x-ray was taken. Both indicated that I hadn’t had a heart attack. I was relieved of course, and due to crowded hospital conditions, I expected to be sent home with a Popsicle or ice cream cone. Instead, I was admitted for further testing and observation.

Fridays aren’t good days to pick for having an emergency. Make a note to yourself about that. It was decided, based on my past history of a heart attack, and two stent procedures, that I should have an angiogram. I quite agreed this would be a capital idea, but the cardio cath labs are shut down on the weekend. On Monday my case was put forward to see if I could be fit in. Feeling a bit like a stand-by passenger on a holiday weekend I had three different appointments set for Tuesday, and each one was cancelled. I didn’t really mind, knowing there were people in more urgent need. I’d been stabilized and was resting comfortably — or as comfortably as one can in a ward with four patients, one bathroom, and an Italian guy whose snores could probably be heard two floors down at Tim Hortons.

They then gave me a “for sure” Wednesday morning appointment for 7:30am. I was awakened at 6, fed my heart pills, and reminded that I could have no breakfast. At around 10:30 I was told that my appointment would take place sometime in the afternoon. The nurse reminded me that I had to fast so I couldn’t have lunch. Uh huh. I think I got in around 2:00pm. My poor surgeon, Dr. Singh, had performed both of my previous angioplasty/stent ops and looked discouraged. “How was it this time?” I asked. “Blocked again!” He looked personally insulted. “How blocked?” I asked. “95%” he said. “Well,” said I, “at least it wasn’t my imagination that I was experiencing this.” “No,” he laughed, patting me on my shoulder, “you weren’t imagining.”

I can’t say I was greatly surprised. Despite the excellent work Dr. Singh performed, I’d already re-blocked once and if your body is prone to this kind of thing, I’d read it’s not unusual for it to happen again. For most people stents are excellent — the least obtrusive heart fixes going.

The hospital cardiologists reviewed my films and decided that it was time for an open-heart, bypass operation. Again no surprise. Of course the weekend is upon us again so I’ll be marking time for a few days more. I’m tentatively scheduled for noon, Tuesday, 22-April-2008, but I’ve already learned that schedules can evaporate quickly. And once again, if a new patient turns up who urgently needs the surgery in order to survive, that patient should obviously be treated first.

In the meantime I’ll trade emails with my friends, check out my favourite photo forums, listen to podcasts, and read the hospital menu carefully to identify what I’ve just eaten.

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