Invincible…

Yes, I wish I was invincible, but I’m not. When we are young, we may think that we are invincible, but as we get older, and those health-debts start coming due, we may find that we don’t have enough in our health-bank to pay those debts. I was just reminded AGAIN that I am NOT invincible.

After my eye-stroke in 2007, I have tried to take better care of myself, and while doctors have kept hounding me to lose weight, I am the lightest that I have been since about 1980. But, the health-debt from my younger years was still too great, so this time I had an episode with my heart. I am no “fan” of hospitals, although I have spent a LOT of time in hospitals with my good friend and neighbor, Liz, who has had four surgeries and many other hospitalizations, but I had no choice.

This past Monday evening (1/25/16), I had just finished eating supper, so I got up to take my dishes to the sink, and suddenly my heart went into palpitations. I have had two or three of these episodes before, but they have all resolved within a few minutes, so I sat down in the same chair I am sitting in now, at my computer. A few minutes later, I checked my blood-pressure. It wasn’t particularly high, but my pulse-rate was over 150 beats per minute. Over the next few minutes, I checked it three more times, and as my pulse-rate went up, so did my blood-pressure. My pulse-rate topped out at over 170 beats per minute, and wasn’t coming back down. It was time to do something.

Thankfully, Liz got home about the time I started having the palpitations, and since I had been text-messaging with her about it, she was ready to go when I was. By the time I walked out my door, she had pulled her car in front of my driveway. We quickly decided that I should go to the nearest hospital, which is less than ten miles from here. When we got to the hospital, she told me to stay in the car while she went inside for help. Liz worked in an Emergency Room for several years so she knew what to say to get their attention, and within two or three minutes, she and two other people came outside with a wheelchair. I was immediately whisked back to the triage station, bypassing the waiting room, which was full, and admitting.

While a young fellow took my vital-signs, a young lady entered my information into their computer. A short time later, I was taken back to one of their treatment-rooms. After I got into that room, a nurse hooked me up to a monitor and inserted an IV line. She also drew blood for lab-work. A few minutes later, a technician brought an EKG machine in and ran an EKG strip on me. She did notice an anomaly on my EKG. An hour or so later, the ER doctor came in to tell me, based on my vitals, the lab-results and the EKG results, that she highly-recommended that I be admitted and see a cardiologist the next morning. I was a bit hesitant, but I also know that heart-disease runs in both side of my family, so I agreed. Liz had to go back home to try to get some sleep because she had to work the next day. By about midnight, I was moved to the cardiac care unit (CCU).

I am a frequent blood-donor, but that doesn’t mean that I “like” getting stuck. That didn’t keep a “vampire” from coming in every three hours for more blood. I didn’t sleep well that night because my system was still keyed-up and the air-vent above me sounded like a jet-engine. I may have slept for a total of two hours – maybe. Anyone expecting to get some rest in a hospital will get a quick reality-check.

The cardiologist came in first-thing the next morning, and he ordered an echocardiogram and a chemical stress-test. A lady appeared with the cardiac-echo equipment a few moments later. I have had several echocardiograms through the years, so it was no big deal. Shortly after she finished the echocardiogram, I was taken downstairs to nuclear medicine for the stress-test.

The stress-test was done in three stages, or phases. I was injected with a radioactive material, and then my heart was scanned with a gamma-camera. That scan took 15 minutes. Next, I was taken to the stress-test lab.

There are two varieties of stress-test, the exercise stress-test, and the chemical stress-test. Because I have limited mobility, due to severe arthritis, and COPD, I was given the chemical stress-test rather than the exercise stress-test. The exercise stress-test involves walking on a treadmill with the intensity being raised every three minutes while hooked to a ten-lead monitor. The chemical stress-test involves getting injected with a cocktail of chemicals which stresses the heart similarly to exercise while hooked to a ten-lead monitor. That may have been the most physically-grueling five minutes I have ever had, but my tech kept encouraging me through it. Once the chemicals wore off, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had survived it.

Because I and the other man who went through the stress-test at the same time hadn’t eaten since before midnight the night before, they took us to a little nook where we could eat and drink something. The orange juice tasted a bit strange and the turkey sandwich was a bit bland, but it was a welcome repast. After I finished eating, I was taken back in for another gamma-camera scan.

After I was done with all the tests, I was taken back up to my room where lunch and a big cup of water were waiting for me. Lunch was DELICIOUS! Yes, hospitals CAN serve good food, at least once in a while. My afternoon was spent waiting for results, and waiting, and waiting. I did manage to get a couple of cat-naps during that time. My nurse hooked me up to a bag of potassium, LIQUID-FIRE, and it was main-lined and bare-back with nothing to dilute it. When I couldn’t take the burn in my arm and shoulder any longer, I asked her to disconnect it, which she did. As hard as I try to keep my potassium level up, it wasn’t enough, and I sure hope I don’t get that low ever again.

The cardiologist finally came in to see me after supper, and when he did, he had a big smile on his face. I had passed the stress-test with flying-colors!!! He also told me that I have a strong, healthy heart, which was even better news. I had NOT had a heart-attack, and even though I do have some anomalies in my heart, I am NOT a heart-attack waiting to happen.

What I dislike most about being in a hospital is feeling “cooped-up“, because I am not able to move about freely as I choose. I don’t like getting stuck multiple-times, but being “cooped-up” is even worse. I did get excellent care, and kudos particularly to the nurses who cared for me. Special kudos go to Myra, my day-shift CCU nurse, because even though I gave her fits, she always had a smile on her face, and I always knew that she cared about me.

When my legs get restless and start cramping, I get restless and have to get up and move around a bit, so I would disconnect the monitor, hang the urine bag on my pants-pocket, and walk around. Every time I did, Myra would remind me to stay in sight of her, because if something happened while I wasn’t on the monitor and out of her sight, she would feel responsible. She accompanied me on one of my forays which meant that I could walk farther than just inside that small unit. Thank you Myra!

I am sure that Myra was ready to “get-rid” of me when it time for me to get discharged, because she accompanied me and Liz out to the lobby, where I gave her a big hug. Thank you Myra, because you made my hospital stay a bit more pleasant.

Special thanks go to Liz, who stepped up to the plate when I needed help. I was not in any condition to drive myself to the hospital. THANK YOU LIZ!!! You were my angel.

No, I am NOT Superman and I am NOT invincible. I am just an ordinary guy who is paying the price for pushing myself many times in extraordinary circumstances. I am reminded that the Apostle Paul also knew a bit about weakness and infirmities and left us this gem of divine-wisdom.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.”

In Christ,
Steve

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