I had been feeling ugly all day.
In the evening my wife took me to the emergency room.
On November 14, 2018, I died.
If you are going to die, a hospital is probably the best place to do it.
Of course, I don’t remember.
The ONLY thing I do remember is PAIN!
I remember flying up from the ER table and that is all.
I was told I couldn’t possibly remember.
Well, they weren’t there.
Oh yeah, they were there.
But they don’t know. I know.
A New Day Dawned
A doctor came to see me and we discussed implanting a defibrillator so if my heart stopped again, the defibrillator would restart it.
It seemed like a smart thing to do – implant the defibber or whatever it was.
My concern was running the lines outside of my body into my heart.
I suffer from a leg infection “cellulitis” due to my diabetes.
The opportunity for transmitting that infection from my legs to my heart seemed pretty scary if there was a line running outside my body.
As I sit here typing this I have a huge gob of skin missing on my left leg.
It slid off the other night. I’ve been to the doctor, the ER, and
the Wound Clinic. But they can’t put Humpty together again.
Cellulitis is caused by fluid build-up between the layers of skin.
Bacteria love the warm fluid and quickly cause an infection.
The infection causes the skin to blister.
Blistered skin means a day later it sloughs off. And now it is raw meat. HURTS!
The doctor agreed. He recommended an internal device.
On a scale of 1 to 10 for awesome decisionmaking, this was a -0.
This is the rest of the story.
On a Friday afternoon in October, my bride and I were in the
car mosying up and down the boulevard when I COULDN’T
This is not a good thing.
I said, “to the hospital, NOW!”
She knew we were closer to a clinic than the hospital so she
zipped the few blocks to the clinic.
I asked her to get a nurse and a wheelchair.
I may not have said those exact words since an electric elephant was pounding my chest. (The pink battery bunny? Only much bigger.)
I was screaming at the top of my lungs.
It hurt so bad!
She came out with a big guy who said he had worked in the ER.
I was much relieved at the news. He was going to stay with me
until the ambulance got there.
The ambulance, lights blazing and siren blaring roared into the parking
Of course, the fire engine and patrol cars had to tag along.
They did their questionnaire and decided I had to get out of the
I alerted them to the fact that was a problem since:
1) I could barely breathe and 2) my legs were mush.
They brought out the coolest tool- a semi-rigid blanket.
Somehow they worked it around me, I stood up and they laid
me back on the blanket and moved me to the gurney. In the blink of the eye.
I have said on many occasions in the last two years – I will take a med-tech instead of some doctors. These people that work for Mayo Clinic Ambulance are AWESOME!
If you don’t have a primary doctor eligible to work in the hospital (my primary is a VA doctor) you don’t get a specialist. You get a hospitalist.
“His” opinion of why I had so much chest pain was: The upper chamber of my heart emptied into my lower chamber before the lower chamber had emptied.
They gave me some pills to slow down my heart rate.
I had three more of those attacks.
I wasn’t expecting anything different when I went to the emergency room on my birthday November 14.
That was the day I died.
Trying out my shiny new defibrillator
The power supply was implanted under my armpit and the wires were plugged into my heart.
It was implanted on November 16, 2018.
January and February were good – no new attacks.
The pills are working!
The defib hadn’t gone off.
March – a little one. Another pill to take.
April was good – Whoohooo! Better living thru Chemistry!
October “DAMN!” That hurt. What the hell!!!
If I had been standing I would have been on my butt!
Ambulance was called.
NOW thoughts were dancing in my head and not of sugarplums either.. The roads – especially the freeway in Duluth MN is enough to jostle every brain cell out of you.
Laying on your back on gurney.
In an ambulance. Rocky back and forth, and bouncing up and down.
I wrote a nasty email to the mayor once I was settled into my room.(My wife says I am too negative and mean to people. I guess I don’t understand her question.) I suggested to the mayor that she have the guy in charge of street repairs try riding in an ambulance on his streets.
Ambulance tech shaking and shoving a needle into an artery.
The ambulance techs has to prep you so if needed IV intervention as soon as you get to the ER you are ready to go.
I have had techs give me better IVs than nurses – By Far.
The ABSOLUTE WORST! IV’s are the ones they put on the top of your hand. They hurt for weeks afterward.
The ABSOLUTE worst IV? An ER doctor. He tried putting it in my hand three times. Three times!
I told him to put it in the crook of my elbow. My artery jumps right out of my skin there.
“No. It will pull out.”
I wake up in my room.
The IV is stuck in the crook of my arm!
To Finish the Story
I was in absolute pain every. For one and a half hours!
To the hospital I hollered.
In the ER I hollered.
By now I am screaming at the top of my lungs. An electric elephant was sitting on my chest and doing the tango.
I learned later that my heart rate was 228 instead of the normal rate is 100 – 150.
I had VT –Ventricular Tachycardia. Translated it means pain from hell.
This particular grey, gloomy day went on for one and one-half hours!
God, I hurt. I screamed, I swore, and I kicked.
“ What the heck happened?” I asked the ER doctor.
I later realized they aren’t going to tell you anything. Nothin’
The regular doctor probably would have a fit if the ER doctor told me something that disagreed with what the regular wanted to say.
The ER doctors are too busy to answer questions anyway.
Well, I survived so I was happy. But that HURT!
Made it past that most unlucky day – my birthday.
November – FOURTH WEEK
It’s back. And with a vengeance.
One shock upon another. The nasty thing is – if it has to shock you twice – Yup you guessed it. The second one is a lot stronger than the first.
The doctor came down and presented a proposal.
He was going home for Christmas.
He would go to his Alma Mater and talk with his professors.
They might even suggest that I go to their facility for a procedure. (Geez a choice of U of Pitt or Loyola, which should I choose?)
One more blast right after Christmas dang I hope the doctor is back soon!
The new year.
Here it is– – the ninth.
Two! A double whammy. Bam! BAM!
Ambulance is on the way. Much too cold to have my wife drive.
In the morning of all the crazy things.
OK folks. I am not leaving here until this thing gets fixed!
Well I had to wait for quite a while.
Finally, the doctor showed up. He doesn’t have time to do it this week.
But, the soft-spoken doctor that saved me when I was in the ER he would take the old defibrillator out.
This guy with the spiky blond hair would do the ablation on Friday – his day off.
First I had to have an MRI.
Have you ever had an MRI? The technicians lay you on a table that is about 6 inches wide and that brings you into the guts of this huge drum.
It makes noise. LOUD Noise. Rattle, bang, BANG, shimmy. My goodness, you could go deaf listening to the tunes it plays.
The real nasty about the MRI – it is NARROW.
I am not a small guy. My shoulders are squished, my elbow rubs on the drum as it rotates. Elbows get carpet burns.
But I made it thru the claustrophobia.
MRI is done and I’m whisked off to another room. Lots of hustle and bustle as the guys strap me in and hook me up to tubes.
I sure hope they remember how to get me out of here. They work so fast!
All of sudden I’m not there anymore.
The doctor, an electrophysiologist, tells me he hasn’t been able to make my heart fail.
I’m still under the influence.
“I can’t make it stop. The ablation worked. I dug around a bit, pulled something out. You don’t need to wear a defibrillator anymore.”
WOW. Was that great news!
No more jolts followed by searing pain.
Got off the table. Got dressed. Met my wife at the main door.
I haven’t looked back.
Thanks for stopping.