Behind My Red Door

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It started out like any other day… fact I was really enjoying the last week or so. Having to be close to home for my mom’s blood tests, meals and sometimes injections, I had been spending some time revaluating how I want to spend my time when I am not not watching Lili, taking care of my parents needs, doing my magazine work and caring for our home and gardens. Everyone keeps telling me – “make time for yourself.”

So I made some time to do what I love ….…which is decorating of course!


In fact, I was feeling pretty good. Concerned about my mom’s needs and where all this is going for my folks of course, but feeling OK for the most part. And Monday morning was a pretty typical day –other than being tired from not much sleep. That happens to me periodically though so no concerns. I did some chores and I made the drive to my folks house where I tested my mom’s sugar and made their lunch. I chatted with my sister about a low blood sugar level my mom had. I talked with my dad about making an appointment for my mom because of some vision concerns and when I could do that. Just before I left their house, my DIL Angela sent a text that Lili was asleep so I grabbed 2 bites of the low carb, heart healthy meatloaf I had made for my folks knowing it would be some time before I could have my own lunch. Boy, was it ever a long time! LOL

I got to my son’s house, and settled on the couch with the baby monitor close by until Lili woke up. I am not a daytime TV watcher but I was happy to see Oprah’s new network on their cable line up and I started to watch a new very uplifting show.

Sitting there, I suddenly felt a very brief and very mild pinchy feeling in the center of my chest. I thought – humm, wonder what that was?? It didn’t feel like acid reflux or anything like that. Within seconds I felt very light headed and I laid down on the couch and the feeling took over my whole body as if I was going to faint. Then my heart started pounding out of my chest. I quickly called my DIL and told her what I was feeling, I told her to call my hubby and get him to come there to watch Lili (he works just 5 minutes away) and to call an ambulance. I was thankful she was safely in her crib. The first episode seemed to start to go away but came back even stronger and I remember thinking – ‘don’t close your eyes. Fight to stay awake’ which I did.

By the time the EMT’s got me into the ambulance, the EKG was good and I actually felt much better but I knew it was best to be checked out. I was taken to a hospital that has a world renowned cardiac unit and I was very quickly evaluated. All initial tests came back well within normal. They never even gave me aspirin or attached a bag of saline to the port in my arm. I thought I would be released but because there seemed to be no typical explanation for how I felt, there were some concerns I might have an atypical arrhythmia for the first time, so they wanted me to stay longer for additional testing , which I was happy to do. I won’t go into all the details, but I will say I never blacked out or had any other chest pain, or any other typical symptoms or even any of the atypical ones you read about woman having when they have a heart attack. And my B/P , cholesterol and blood sugar have always been well within normal ranges and were in the hospital as well.

Knowing I had no heart damage etc., I REALLY didn’t want to stay overnight though. I had a bad experience the last time I spent a night in the hospital after a reaction to anesthesia in day surgery in 2002. Since then I have referred to that as the longest and hardest 24 hours of my life. But even though they said that my risk factor was very low, the attending even called my family Dr. to get him to convince me to stay overnight for more monitoring and observation “just in case”, more blood work and so that an important test that could be done early the next day. THEN I could go home. EARLY they told me. In this case, the Drs you see in the cardiac unit follow you up to the floor even so it would be the very same team facilitating my release. They went so far to promise me a REALLY GOOD sleeping med with Benadryl as extra backup so I could get a good night’s sleep, which was a HUGE concern of mine ~ especially because I was already sleep deprived at the moment. I told myself “listen Linda, you are in one of the best cardiac units in this country. Don’t be stupid. Listen to these Drs. With the promised meds, you’ll sleep and before soon it would be over. You have your phone and Ipad, a TV, a bed and bathroom. And it will come with peace of mind in the end.”

So I agreed to the admission and a few hours later was moved to a room. As I was being wheeled down the hall, I was so excited to see they were all private rooms. Until they got to mine. I won’t even tell you the word that came to mine. I was told at that point – you’ll be in the bed by the window… Okay, I thought, that is the best spot by the a/c at least. NOPE! Within seconds it became clear that the room mate had moved over there. Again, another bad word came to mind.

It began as soon as I sat down ~ I mean SANK down on the bed. It was a rubber air mattress that constantly deflated and occasionally inflated. They quickly got me a ‘regular better mattress’. Then I met my roommate. She informed me that she was freezing being next to the cooling unit, so they turned the a/c to warmer and I was roasting ~ ok truthfully ~ sweating all night long. I suggested we switch beds so I could enjoy the cool air since I was very uncomfortable in the heat but she also insisted she wanted to enjoy the night sky which meant the curtains were left open and despite the flimsy curtain between our beds, the room was awash with bright all night long from the spotlights on the parking structure outside the window.. The ‘better” bed was not. I could feel every bit of metal under the thin mattress and my hip joints ached after a few hours. My roommates noisy visitors left around 10 PM and her constant phone calls stopped. Did I mention she was hard of hearing so she had her TV blasting and her cell phone ringer on loud?

So finally I had that sleep med that I was so excited to get around 11 and settled in to enjoy a nice night of sleep. It didn’t even make me woozy. One drink would have done more. I had the Benadryl too – again feeling lie this would do the trick.

Of course there were the important and necessary interruptions during the night for blood enzyme levels and heart monitoring etc. Hers and mine. I know those can’t be helped. She slept through both of our interruptions and snored like a freight train. In fact the next day she told me she slept very well. I only said “ I know, I heard you.” She laughed. I didn’t. I was awake ALL night long.

I was so excited to leave my room for the early morning echocardiogram and was even more excited when I was told I was cleared to go home shortly. WOOHOO I thought. The sign on the wall said they wanted patients to be released by 11 AM so make sure your ride was there BEFORE 11 AM. That works for me I thought then. Now ~ I don’t think they know the definition of 11 AM or ‘shortly’.

My roommates first visitor came bright and early and for the next 9 hours I had to listen to their loud conversations of religious and political beliefs with her son swearing and talking death and illness. I was very patient until around 1 PM, and then I very nicely told every nurse, aide, intern, and resident that would listen that I was beyond exhausted. That I was on total sensory overload, and feeling MUCH worse than when I went in there. They all claimed that they tried to get my paperwork moved along. I reminded them they needed my bed for much sicker patients who had been in Cardiac ER hallway all night long.

I knew I could just sign myself out and pack up and leave but of course I didn’t want to do any of that without the proper release papers signed. I didn’t want to make a stink. I know how overworked and underpaid most of the staff are. But I also knew my sanity was being sorely tested. I reminded myself I was blessed to know my heart is sound. That I had a wonderful hubby to go home to. I prayed. I meditated. I read my eBook on my Ipad. I emailed a few close friends. I joined my roommate and her daughter in conversation until I couldn’t take the innuendos and slurs any more. I walked up and down the hall. I remade my bed. I washed up over and over. I changed my skivvies and johnnie 3 times to cool off. I did everything in my power to stay cool, occupied and to take my mind off the heat, discomforts and the constant loud voices and beeping of monitors and alarms. But I needed it to end.

What it FINALLY took to get released was for me to say to someone was that ~ ~ I need some peace and quiet. I need the loud voices to stop. I need the beeping to stop. I need some sleep. I need a cool room with less light. I need to go home. My husband is on his way now and I do know how to safely remove my IV.

Guess who was back with signed papers, and a wheelchair in 5 minutes. I was finally free and all it took was 9 hours and me acting psychotic. It was now after 5 PM.

I have never been so happy to be home. It never looked so good. We had a nice dinner, I had a hot shower and as soon as I had some time to unwind, I went to bed. And slept 12 hours last night and I have done nothing today!

Is this really the worst thing that has ever happened to me? No. Do I ever want to go through a long totally sleepless night on sensory overload again? No. Is this just a blip compared to what some people endure in a hospital with serious illness and accidents? Of course. Would I still have had my DIL call for an ambulance knowing what I know now? Yes. (Did I really say that?)

Because if I hadn’t gotten checked out, every time I felt the slightest odd feeling and I was alone with Lili or driving a car, I would wonder if something bad would happen. And while this doesn’t guarantee nothing bad will ever happen, I know my ticker is ticking and pumping like it should and has no evidence of any tissue damage either.

So what happened? So far there are no answers. The fact that I didn’t loose consciousness bodes well. In fact all my tests bode well. Many things were ruled out. Did stress cause this? Maybe. Did anxiety play a part in this… while I don’t believe it caused it, I definitely feel it exacerbated it once it started. Other than tired, I feel fine.

So what now? I believe everything happens for a reason and I need to learn from this. I believe I need to work even harder on managing stress and being less ‘anal’. I feel I have done a good job of letting go of so many things as I age. I am not nearly the perfectionist I used to be but I am sure I can find more ways to ‘let it go’.

I am blessed to have learned my heart is sound and it’s my job to keep it that way. My resolve to eating the right kids of food is doubled now. I have slipped up too many times.

I am going to spend more time where I like being the most. ~ in our home. I will continue to do my best for my folks, watch Lili 3 afternoons a week and work part time for the magazine. But I will say NO more often to others though and YES to me.

So why even tell you about this?? First it was therapeutic for me to write this out. I know I sound like I was just being a crazy person, but sleep deprivation and sensory overload does that to me. Go figure. I should have been more insistent about the a/c and closing the curtains and other things. And secondly, I have been truly blessed with well over a combined 150 emails and comments asking me if I am OK, what happened etc. I wanted to make sure the word got out – that I am OK and this is the best way to reach you all. And with the details too so I don’t have anyone hypothesizing either. I have to trust these world renowned cardiologists, residents, and interns. All of them – and believe me I saw MANY. How lucky I am live to so close to such a wonderful hospital.

And if you happen to be someone I say NO to, I hope this gives you an understanding of why.

But most importantly, I wanted to tell my story if I could help just one person take seriously the effects of stress, or the need to pay attention to your health, and that you really need to speak up and be your own advocate where your health is concerned. My outcome with respect to this is positive. When it comes to your health, please take the actions you need to make sure yours is too.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers, calls, emails, comments and concern. I cannot tell you how much it has meant to me.

Today I am thankful for:

EMT’s, Paramedics and other emergency response personnel

Modern EKG machines

Cardiac blood markers


The entire cardiac team that cared for me and all the personnel in the hospital from cleaning to food service to record keeping and beyond.

Until next time ~ prim blessings, A very grateful Linda

PS ~ The next time I am back I will share some pics of my decorating changes and a wonderful APP surprise I got in the mail today!! Thank you Kristine!!

PSS ~ it was also the 39th anniversary of meeting Mr. Red Door. I gave him an anniversary present to remember!!