The Beating Of My Heart

For a couple of weeks, I hadn't been feeling so well. Not the usual cold or sinus troubles or the flu or the I hate my job so I've got the blah's feeling. It was more of a general "somethings not right, but I'm not sure what it is" feeling. Then I woke up a couple of times in the night and the sides of my hands and feet would be asleep, all tingly pins & needles until I flexed them and got the blood flowing again. In my case, that's not a good sign at all. I have a bad ticker and have already been to the other side and back so it's best I not push my luck. Then the other evening I was doing a little power walking exercise and I felt a bit of pain in my chest and my left arm, a pain that's all too familiar. Time to get my butt to the doc. And the doc said it's time to get my butt to the hospital for a coronary angiogram to figure out what's wrong.

Turn's out, my body had been busy growing scar tissue over one of the stents I have which had started clogging it up. The doc did a roto-rooter job and then inserted another stent inside the original two and opened it up wider. This story isn't about that though. Well, not exactly. It's about Conway Regional Hospital and my "interesting" experience while spending two days in this fine health care institution.

Check-in was quick, easy, and except for the $450 upfront co-pay I had to put on my credit card right then and there, not an issue. I was escorted to a prep room where I lay on a bed for a while looking at the lady directly across the aisle looking back at me. A pretty nurse brought me one of those "Hey, look at my naked butt" gowns and said to take off everything but my socks. I got an armband with my name and other information banded around my wrist and then another nurse came in and stuck me with an IV in the back of my hand. That one hurt. A really nice guy came by and put a bunch of cold, circular  electrodes on and around my chest and ran two EKG tests, took my blood pressure, heart rate, and temp. In comes another nurse to take  some blood. Saying my armband was in the way, she ripped it off, stuck another needle in me and walked off with 2 vials of blood. Don't ask my why she couldn't use the IV line that I was already stuck with. Maybe she just needed needle practice and I was handy.

For those who don't know, an angiogram is where a thin catheter line is inserted into a vein in your groin area and snaked up through the vein into your heart. And that means no hair at the point where they cut into you. After receiving a replacement armband, an aspirin and a Valium, the prettiest nurse yet came at me with a razor in her hand. Thankfully, the Valium  was kicking in as she gently performed her assigned duty or an embarrassing situation may have come up.

After being wheeled into an operating room, I told the nurses not to be peeking under my gown while I was out and then I woke up in the recovery room. As they wheeled me into room 322, I had enough sense about me to realize my right wrist hurt and there was a plastic band tightly around it. Asking the nurse about it, I found out that instead of going in through the groin, they had done the procedure in the new manner of cutting a hole and going in through the right wrist. So this left me with the rather interesting dilemma for no good reason of being half bald in a very personal area. Do I shave the rest or just run around half-n-half for a while?

The nurses left after telling me if I needed anything to just push the little call button. The wife left to go pick up Youngest-daughter and I was left to amuse myself for a while raising and lowering the bed. While pushing myself into a sitting position, I accidentally bent my right wrist back and it started bleeding. I'm taking a blood thinner so it's not really dangerous, but when I bleed, it doesn't stop right away. And it didn't this time either. I pushed the call button and watched the blood start rolling down my arm. I pushed the button again and again and soon the blood had covered my arm and was dripping on my gown and on my blanket. Twice I saw a nurse walk by my room and I called out to them, but they didn't stop. Eventually my nurse stuck her head in the door, saw me holding up my bloody arm and said, "Oh my God!" After cleaning it off and rearranging that funky plastic bandage on my wrist, she found that the call button had not been hooked up. Good thing I was just bleeding out and it wasn't a real emergency or anything.

By now it was almost 7:00 and all I'd had to eat all day was a small bowl of Cheerios. Evidently somebody forgot to tell the kitchen I would be hanging around for the night. My dear, wonderful wife made a Quiznos run and brought me back a sandwich. I had just finished wolfing it down when my night nurse brought in a food tray. She said someone hadn't entered me in the computer so she had them make one up for me. I appreciated it so much that I ate most of that also. By 8:30, wife and daughter had left and by 9:00 I was sound asleep. Thankfully, my night nurse woke me up at 10:00 to tell me she would be my night nurse and if I needed anything, just ring the call button.

I don't know exactly what time it was; dark-time-thirty for sure, but I was once again sound asleep when I became aware of a claw that had ahold of my foot and was dragging me off the bed! Before I became fully awake, I realized it was the monster that lives under all beds and comes out only in the night and it had me by the foot, pulling me down into it's dark, stinking lair to suck out my blood and do all kinds of horrible, unspeakable monstery things to me! Then the monster asked me in a soft female voice if I was OK and I slowly realized it was just my night nurse, Vicky, shaking my foot to make sure I wasn't dead or anything. Three more times during the night, the ever vigilant Vicky woke me to take my blood pressure and make sure I didn't die on her watch. At 7:00 I woke up again realizing that room 322 is directly across the hall from the utility closet and the door slams every time one of the cleaning crew  goes in or out. I gave up trying to sleep, turned on Good Morning America and waited for breakfast.

At 9:30, I asked Tee, my new day nurse, what time breakfast was served. 8:30 was her answer. I kindly pointed out it was 9:30 and I hadn't gotten mine. The wife arrived and offered to get me some breakfast, but not wanting to repeat the 2 suppers scene of the night before, I just asked her for coffee. Conway Regional Hospital's outpatient waiting room coffee sucks. Thankfully it's free.  At 10:00, Tee brought me a breakfast tray of scrambled eggs, dry toast, coffee and milk. Tee said I hadn't been entered into the computer so the kitchen didn't know to make me a tray. She had them make up an extra one for me.

A nice cleaning lady came in and while watching her give the room a quick wipe down and mopping, I noticed the bottom area of several of the walls. They looked like a thousand things on rollers had knocked into them, worn off all paint and gouged out chunks. It certainly didn't look clean or sanitary. I had noticed a couple of drips of what looked like cheese sauce on the floor and some corn flakes laying up against the walls so I hadn't been exactly impressed with the cleanliness anyway, but when she left and the dripped cheese sauce and corn flakes were still on the floor, I was a bit concerned. I expect hotel rooms to be clean, but you NEED hospital rooms to be clean. If you are in the hospital, you've got enough problems of your own - you don't need to be catching someone else's'!

After she left, I had occasion to use the restroom. They had pumped me full of liquids the afternoon before to flush out the dye used in the angiogram so I had used the room several times the night before, but this was the first time I had turned on the light and really looked around. I noticed a couple more corn flakes on the floor (corn flakes in the bathroom?), but what I saw in the shower really upset me. Hair. Lots of hair. Pubic hair. And it wasn't mine! Not any of what was left of mine anyway. There were pubes on the floor and much to my amazement, even on the wall about waist height. What the hell was this? Rocket pubes! I mean, how does a pube get there? If my pubes were shooting off like rockets and my crotch was going bald, I would definitely know there was something seriously wrong and I would immediately get myself to a doctor. And then it dawned on me, rocket pube dude WAS in the hospital! Whatever they had, I sure didn't want. When Tee came back later to get my breakfast tray, I asked her to go look in the shower. She was very apologetic and said she would let housekeeping know. When I told her they had already cleaned, she said she would call the head of housekeeping.  True to her word, it was only a few minutes later that the same cleaning lady came back and did a thorough job in the shower and got the corn flakes off the bathroom floor. Later on, the Director of Housekeeping stopped by, apologized, kind of made a few excuses, but did say he would get to the bottom of this and the next time I'm there, it would be different. Now that was real comforting.

The wife had called my doctor's office about 10:00 that morning and was told the doc was on the floor making his rounds already and he should be with me shortly. Of course I had to wait to see him before I could check out. So I waited. And waited. And low and behold, I was served lunch right on time. Evidently, now that I was about to be released, I was in the kitchen's computer. I read a book on my iPad. I watched episode after episode of the Law & Order SUV marathon on TV. At 2:55, the wife called the doctor's office again to see if he had forgotten about me and was told he now wouldn't be around until about 6:00.  At 3:00, the good wife made a coffee run - to a coffee shop, not that swill in the waiting room and at exactly 3:02, my doctor walked in my room. Sure glad his office keeps up with him so good. He told me everything he had done to me. Told me to be on bed rest for 3 or 4 days. And then he told me that if the same thing happened again, the next time would require open heart surgery. Now there's something to look forward to. After that bit of good news, he told me I could go home.

I called my wife to come back quick, the plastic band was cut off my wrist and a pressure bandage put on in it's place, the needles were pulled out of me, the circular electrodes were unhooked and peeled off, and I swapped my drafty, embarrassing gown for pants and shirt. I was home in time to meet Youngest-daughter as she got off the bus from school. I'm good to go again and her smile when she saw me and the way she ran into my arms made me smile all over. It was good to be home again.