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Monday, June 11, 2012

Part 3: My "Sleep"over at the Hospital---Sleep? Fuggedaboudit.

Part 3- Overnight at the the "Little Shop of Sleep Deprivation", aka. Cardiac Wing.

{"Health is not something the doctor can apply to you like calamine lotion.  Health is something you do on a daily basis, and making wise decisions at the dinner table is one of the best things you can do to assure your good health", Dr. Michael Klaper,}

I had still been following the 'cardiac protocol' up to this point, having been given nitro a few times and nearly as soon as I was taken into my room in the cardiac wing and met my first nurse "Eva", this was continued by a nitro paste being placed on my back.  I would later come to detest nitro;  it is some nasty stuff and gave me severe headaches.  However, I reasoned, headache trumps heart failure any day.

I had also begun to notice, really, back in the E.R., that the places under the tapes and adhesives that were holding various I.V. ports, monitors, etc. in place were itching.  I was trying not to scratch them, but they were getting red and bothersome.  This is another thing that would come back to bite me in the butt.

Nurse Eva, who seemed very sweet, filled me in on procedures, pointing out first and foremost when I mentioned that I was going to be getting a stress test in the a.m.....that she needed to clear that up right now; the CARDIOLOGIST will or will not order that.....not the E.R. doc.  Thus began my first glimpse into the power struggle, miscommunication and general control-freak issues of the inner-workings of the hospital.

She went through many informational aspects of my stay at the hospital and when my husband spoke up at one point saying I hadn't eaten and that I really need to eat frequently because I am vegan, she jumped at me: "I asked you if you were on a special diet and you didn't say anything!!!".  There is no way in hell she asked me that.  I was waiting and waiting for a chance to tell her of my diet needs as this was foremost on my mind.  She said she would try to see what she could get me, but it was about 10:00 p.m. by now, kitchen closed.  Later, I begged for a bananas in the hospital--they were out.  After a time, she did scrounge up a packet of instant oatmeal (very small maybe an ounce or two), and a small dish of grapes.  Later she brought me a very tiny serving of fruit that I know had sugared syrup on this time, I just had to get something in my stomach, so I ate.

{Another side note:  Eva told us that her boss, was essentially on a vegan diet.  Turns out she does CHIP  ---Complete Health Improvement Program--- that I had learned about at the Appalachian Summit in Athens, Ohio last September.  I thought this really was a grand coincidence, since Caldwell Esselstyn really champions this program.  Also it was good to know she had some fore-knowledge of what a vegan is.

Learn more about CHIP here:

I tried not to look at my husband's face as Eva went on to explain the reasons why her boss had gone on that program, and they included to reduce cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and she finally got around to mentioning that her boss wanted to lose a few pounds.
This was the classical 'elephant-in-the-room' scenario as Eva really needs to lose I'm guessing at least 100 pounds.}

I was sipping some water that Eva had brought, but there was discomfort with every swallow and I kept telling the various nurses and techs that I could feel where the place was in my esophagus that was hurt, torn, damaged or whatever.  This discomfort, and not being sure what was causing it, also made me very cautious about putting ANYthing down my throat, so I know I was becoming dehydrated at this point even.  This would also later come back to bite me in the butt, big time.

My husband left and I finally got settled in and was having 'a moment'....true loneliness and probably the shock of the day wafting over me; I tried texting a dear friend, but she wasn't available, so pulled up the picture file on my cell phone, noting how little juice I had left on my cell phone.  Lesson learned there too.

I was never so glad to have all of those little candid shots stored on that phone....the ones that I never thought were all that good to begin with taken with my phone's less-than-optimal camera, but they are just there. 

As I scanned through them, I had all the great loves of my life on there....both my boys that I am so incredibly proud of, not for any particular 'accomplishment', but just by Who They Are.  My many good pictures of him on there, and then all the crazy farm pictures I have that probably only I would understand....half of a barn swallow as I tried to get a shot of those fascinating birds, just the corner of my mare's beautiful face....undoubtedly she had broken her 'pose' and had come up to sniff me mid-picture.  I scanned through pictures of my grand-daughter, my two best friends, my precious brother and other family members and felt the sense of their love.

Feeling somewhat calmer, I snuggled down in the sheets and pulled out my current book and began to read.

Just a very few pages into that, I heard what sounded like a thundering herd flying down the hall and thought to myself:  'wow, sounds like a bunch of kids running up and down the hall'.  In a moment, the 'herd' flew into my room and my nurse Eva (who as I mentioned, is about 80-100 pounds overweight, so buddy when she hits the ground, you can hear her coming) and another fairly large nurse appeared bolting into my room and tried to compose themselves, regain their breath and be non-chalant. 

Eva quickly came to my bedside and said, "you ok?".  I hesitantly answered "uh, yeah, I think so".  She pressed on:  "you didn't just feel anything?".  "Uh, no....feel something?"  Eva:  "You didn't feel something in your heart?".  Me: "Nope, don't think so". 

Ok, so by now, I'm getting on red-alert and the cardiac swat team has come into the room, they are taking vitals and printing out EKG's and I'm trying to just stay calm---(as I glance at the portable monitor and see a readout of about 151/95 bp!)

They continue taking my bp until it comes down a bit and they confirm that my EKG is ok, just normal, I tentatively thank them for keeping an eye on me and they depart.

I settle back to the book when AGAIN the thunder!!  I'm alert now and I hear the herd pass by my room and continue on down the hall.

I decide, ok, screw this....I'm going to try to actually just fall asleep--close the book, lights out...deep breathing, good god, get me out of here, I want to go home.  I finally begin to doze and Eva comes into the room which I hear and wake up to and she says "well, good news.  I didn't know whether to tell you or not.  You never had anything go off on your EKG alarm-wise".  She proceeds to explain to me that upon her return to the nurses' station after their visit in my room she sees that the number to my room she is reading as "3" is showing a pulse rate of 150.  She says, wait a minute, I just left her room and her pulse was 60....this isn't my patient.  That prompted the 2nd run down the hall to the patient who actually had the arrhythmia (she ended up being ok...I asked).

Turns out the room I was in used to be a double room and there were two numerical designations for it, and then a new numbering system was instituted but there was still this unknown problem with the number 3 on their monitors at the station.  Ok then, doesn't instill confidence, but still, I figure that it is a good thing...I am ok.

The next few hours are spent by being awakened by various vampires (met a lovely man from Africa that continued the vampire joke with me when I would go on to donate to his blood-collection on E.R. Trip #2), and techs taking vitals every two hours.  After dozing off following one of these tech visits, I heard the speaker system go off LOUDLY proclaiming "CODE BLUE, CODE BLUE, CODE BLUE...all staff report to wherever it was...."  This repeated a couple of times in case the relatives of the vampire that are still in Africa didn't hear it the first time.

No one likes to hear the words "code" and "blue" in quick succession and I had trouble settling after that.  Actually when I first heard them I put my hand to my own heart to make sure it wasn't me!  Finally when I did re-settle, Eva came in to check me again.  (Honestly, are these people trained in sleep deprivation techniques???).  We chatted a bit about her history, and I confessed to her that I was terrified that someone was going to come into the room and tell me I am dying.  She tried to reassure me that all my vitals looked good and scurried off to see if she could find blood enzyme test results.

I chose then to mention the massive headache I had been steadily developing...she said it was the nitro, got me some Tylenol, which didn't help and finally a bit later agreed to take off the nitro as I tried to tell her, look, I really don't think this is my heart!   She had obtained the next in the series of cardiac enzyme test results which confirmed my far, so good on that front.

As she ripped off the tape holding the nitro paste in place, she said ok, but that if my bp goes back up, it's going back on.  (More on bp starting to understand more about that vital statistic).

I inquired about the Code Blue case and she confirmed that that person was fine....she had collapsed while on the commode (a little too much information, but still, a welcome relief--by now, I'm feeling and invisible connection and kinship to the other inmates....I mean patients). 

Dawn was peaking through the blinds and I got up to close those and noticed that some other places of my body were beginning to itch.  I was simply too tired to think more about it at that point and opted to try, once again, to get a bit of rest.

I dozed fitfully until the shift change just an hour or so later.

To be continued:  Next:  A day at the hospital--get out before they make you worse.


Healing Breakfast

Again, nothing fancy here and a continuation of my healing theme.  I've been craving berries for some reason and I'm not about to argue with my body at this point.  Having come to a better understanding of how the body has its own agenda, I am LISTENING!

This is pretty much my regular oatmeal, with cinnamon & some golden flax seeds ground up on top.  To my berries, I also sprinkled some chia and hemp seeds.  I've gone heavy on the berries and found some real beauties at our local store:  raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and a few black raspberries. 
Berries, grapes, chia and hemp seeds
Wanting to add some savory, I rough-chopped some kale and tossed it in with the oatmeal.  It is late-season kale and a bit on the bitter side, but I've heard many times about the importance of stimulating all of the taste sensations.  Any chance I get to toss in some more nutrients, I will definitely take advantage of.

I have to say I was very surprised that the kale did not taste bad at all and blended in with the taste of the oatmeal very well.  I will continue to use this early morning opportunity to get some more nutrients into my body.  I am realizing that I need to be more pro-active on both the macro and micro levels of nutrition for my body.

Oatmeal with kale, cinnamon and ground golden flax seeds

Sue, on the healing path, in Ohio


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Oh no, I accidentally DELETED your comment Silvia. I was trying to reply to it. I was interested in your comment about healthcare over in Germany as I had wondered if it would be similar or different to my experiences here.

      It's quite concerning to me, but I do feel at least a little bit more educated having gone through this process. Thanks for reading.....working on part 4.

    2. I think health care in Germany is generally different from that in the US but intensive care seems to be similar from what I heard.
      But I have no personal experience.

  2. Forgot to say: I have experience of hospital stays and even worked in hospitals (a long time ago) but I have no experience of intensive care!

    And I am really curious to read more of your experience and what it was that caused you so much pain!

    1. Interesting to get your take about comparisons between the two systems. Our system seems to be just completely stuck on this 'protocol' system and chest pain = heart attack. I understand the need for procedure, but prople also need to THINK!
      I probably have 2 or 3 more entries on this whole ordeal.