September 22, 2012

Matters of the Heart

The "Drama Queen" is trying to take this slow. No histrionics. Waiting for the full verdict before I go totally ballistic.  What is this all about, you ask?

I decided after three weeks or so of a scratchy throat which developed into a pain at the base of my throat to see a doctor. Self-medication is always the first option but when it doesn't work....  The fear, of course, was that my 40-plus-years of smoking had finally caught up with me. OMG! Cancer!

Things are working just fine. The doctor's office is on the Square; less than 2 blocks from the house. The appointment is at 7:30 a.m., which will allow me to be at Wally at 10 a.m.  How great is that? So at 7:23 a.m., I'm pacing in front of the office.  Honestly, there is no excuse to be late when you live so close. Doors open promptly at 7:30. Wonderful! I'll be out by 8:30 or 9 a.m., at the latest.

While having my blood pressure, pulse, temperature, yada yada, checked, I mentioned that I had experienced sporadic pin pricks in my chest the night before. "Well, we'll just take an EKG to be on the safe side."  Blood pressure's good; 116 over whatever. Nose and throat awfully red...the sinuses are draining.  "What color is the discharge when you blow?" Is she serious? I don't check the tissue!  Why is this woman taking a phone call in the middle of my visit and leaving the room?  I have to go to work and it is already 9 a.m. Damn! I don't have time for her to take a personal phone call.

Well, here she comes. Finally. "I just wanted to make sure that I was interpreting the EKG readout correctly. That was the doctor and he agreed. It looks as though you had a mild heart attack." Heart attack? Is she serious?  As a heart attack.  OMG. A handful of prescriptions later, I am bundled off to the hospital lab to have blood drawn for tests that will confirm their suspicions.  "As soon as we get the results, we'll let you know. In the meantime, don't take the Celebrex because it will interfere with the medication." She must be kidding.  Does she know how badly my arm, hip, and knee hurt after a day at Wally? And why did I just hear a commercial for Celebrex that mentioned it might increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke? I just had the damned prescription refilled.

It is now 9:45 a.m.  I have to call in. Trying to keep a stiff upper lip while I explain, without bawling, to management that I have to have these tests run and I need the day off. 

Down to the hospital. Am I at the right place? When did it become Lauderdale Community Hospital?  What happened to Baptist?  Sitting in the registration office and the phone rings. It is the doctor's office calling to make sure that I'm there.  Well, you've scared me to death; where did you think that I'd be? It is both comforting and frightening. Is this far more serious than I think? Am I getting ready to, in my best Fred Sanford voice, have the BIG ONE? Jeez a flip.

Back to Wally to pick up the prescriptions. Blood pressure medicine? For what? Didn't they just tell me that my pressure was fine? So the pharmacist explains that it will also "calm" the heart. Calm? How calm?  I'm not trying to wake up dead!  Since I have to take the information for GW Medical Faculty Associates, in D.C., to the doctor's office, I might as well get an explanation for the blood pressure medicine.  Same assurances. "Now make sure that we have a working number for where you'll be so that we can contact you."

Let me tell you, boys and girls.  I gave up nail biting years ago but it is a habit that I could have readily embraced while I waited. At 4:45 p.m., I called the office.  GONE FOR THE DAY? Are you kidding me? I have to wait an entire weekend before I learn whether they saw what they think they saw? And what am I supposed to tell my brother, my child, SF?  Everybody can't be worried and upset.  It might be a false alarm. Well, that decision was taken out of my hands because the phone rang, one after another. "You were on my mind." 

But here's the kicker.  No instructions.  What am I supposed to do? Exertion or not? Scared to go to sleep. Overcame that fear.  How much can I do?  Business as usual? Pamper myself?  What?

One of my greatest fears is that I will become disabled or have a medical emergency. We know that I'm on my own down here. I'm scared to death of falling, particularly in the tub. Now, the heart is thrown into the mix.  Please.  So the right arm is shot. Picked up something that I had no business picking up at work and am paying the price. Arthritis has settled into the hip and makes walking for extended periods very painful. Must have settled in the knee, as well, because it hurts like hell. Have an appointment for more steroid shots on Monday which, I'm told, will have no effect on the "calming" medicine. Hope not. And you can believe that I will ask about Celebrex.

Here's the bright spot of the day. The hospital's auxiliary was having a fantastic jewelry sale. Everything for five dollars! In light of the circumstances which brought me there, I felt like a little self-indulgence was in order.

In the meantime, here are the instructions for the heart:

Beat wildly. Madly. Beat double-time, overtime, slowly.  But whatever you do... Just keep beating. Please. I have a lot of living to do.

Be Safe. Be Blessed.

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