I began feeling a bit weird during a nice luncheon with friends last week. It was the same feeling I had been having which had sent me to a cardiologist the week before.
I had not planned to finish my day lying flat on my back in the ER and hooked up to monitors and EKG, and looking at concerned unfamiliar faces, and my husband sitting quietly beside my bed. I didn’t feel threatened, but it was unsettling. There are two worlds, you see. The Healthy and the Sick. You never realize that until you join the Sick or someone you love does. In that world, you wear hospital gowns that gape in the back, and these kind but unfamiliar people and their machines take over your body. Maybe since your body has apparently betrayed you, you never knew it as well or really owned it the way you thought you did.
I went in at 6:00 and they played around with me until midnight, poking holes in me, taking both my blood and blood pressure, checking monitors which were doing what I don’t know. I thought they would have a quick look and I’d be on my way, so there I was without even a tooth brush, but at midnight they tossed me into a bed upstairs, with a sleeping woman who groaned audibly when the nurse told her she was getting a roommate. Impossible. I was having a dinner party the next day and hadn’t even shopped.
The next morning a nurse came in and told me she had been my nurse two years before when I had the shoulder replacement. I was in the same room, same bed. I began wondering if they planned this whole thing. They seemed to know everything about me. It was surreal and unwelcome, and the food was no better than it had been two years ago. But that afternoon my two daughters came in after having driven all day up from Southern California. I began to think maybe something could be wrong, and they had come to pay their final respects. It was a long way to come just to say hello. Grandchildren began calling to see if I was still breathing.
At 6:00 o’clock the next morning, I woke to the sight of three large paramedics asking if I was ready to roll. I grabbed my lipstick, which was the only thing I had with me to make me look a little human. I asked if I could call my husband, and they said “nope”, so they loaded me onto a gurney and into the ambulance. We tore through morning commute traffic to Santa Clara about 25 miles away, to another hospital, darting in between cars as we went.
I was glad Dr. Advice and I had not tried to find this place by ourselves because they hide these three enormous buildings on foreign and unknown streets in a city we have no reason to ever go to. It was too bad he had to find it alone without my superb navigational skills, because he did get a bit lost on the way.
While waiting for the action to begin whatever it was going to be, I had chance to talk to a cute little nurse with dark horn-rimmed glasses and wearing hospital green, and I told her they better be nice to me because I was a blogger and I would tell all. She told me about a blog she followed by a woman who met her French husband in a gay bar in San Francisco, and they got married and moved to Provence, where they had two children and raised chickens and pigs and a couple of dogs. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun even though I love dogs and eggs. I could do without the pigs though.
Then I went into the operating room and in zipline speed they did an angioplasty, and sent me upstairs to the cardiac floor and I was officially a cardiac patient. A piece of cake until they said my artery had been 99% blocked. It might explain some of the mysterious incidents I had been having for they past several months.
The cardiac floor is a place all it’s own. You remain lying prone and absolutely still for 6 hours, and they don’t let you cheat even for 15 minutes. Try it sometime. They may get in and get back out in the surgery, but they make up for it by 6 hours of torture. They also keep you attached with a dozen wires dangling underneath the same kind of gown they seem to use everywhere. One size fits all and they said it isn’t big enough for some people. I suggest they either go on a diet or don’t get sick. Forget modesty, they don’t know the word, and you can’t even get up to go to the bathroom alone because you are tethered to an IV, and there is a sign just ahead of the bed which says in no uncertain terms NOT to get up without help. Later they connect an alarm to you to make sure you obey. I have always been a person who went Up the Down staircase, but believe me, I obeyed this one, because the nurse I got was a very large man who looked like he meant business. After spending another night, we picked up more medicine, which I guess goes along with the operation, plus another for nitroglycerine. My clever granddaughter said “Good. Now we can make a bomb.”
Well, I’m back home, and Dr. Advice is cooking. Need I say more? He did make my daughter’s oatmeal pancakes for breakfast yesterday to celebrate our 67th anniversary, and to go with the beautiful red roses which suddenly appeared, so all is better than normal. I will share the recipe for the pancakes in another post sometime. It’s the only way to eat oatmeal.
I make light of the occasion, but I am grateful to everyone for the wonderful care they have given me, and very glad to be here.