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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
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Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by mrsthing on 14 May 2009 10:14pm
I had some nausea, dizziness, and mild chest pains radiating into my left arm and jaw yesterday, so I called my doctor. The front desk clerk said they had no openings that day (!) and recommended I go to a clinic or ER. We have a drop in ER clinic in my town so I drove over and walked in. It seems "chest pains" is a magic phrase, because before I knew it, I was in a wheelchair being whisked back to a room in the ER, immediately hooked up to an EKG and an IV drip (saline), had blood taken, was given an aspirin to chew on and a nitroglycerin tablet under the tongue, and when the pains recurred a few times (though not as bad), a shot of morphine. THEN I was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where I saw a dizzying array of nurses, PAs, and doctors, each of whom told me something different about what was going to happen. I had to spend the night in the hospital, and it was awful. My roommate was an elderly woman who talked non-stop and complained about everything while her TV was on. When they told me this morning I'd have to stay another day, I complained, and they made arrangements for me to have my stress test tomorrow in the doctor's office.

Geez. Either you can't get the doctors to pay attention, no matter how serious your symptoms are, or they overreact magnificently.

The doctor put me on Zocor, though--after dieting all winter and exercising for 6 weeks, my cholesterol and triglycerides are still really bad. At least now I know it's genetic and not my fault. Still have to diet and exercise, even though it doesn't help the cholesterol much.

Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by peripatetically on 14 May 2009 10:44pm
This almost sounds too familiar as Kaz can attest to. Soon I guess I will let you guys know what happened on my vacation to the Virgin Gorda. Most importantly, though, is that I'm so glad you are back home, Judy. Apparently you passed the stress test?

Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by peripatetically on 14 May 2009 11:39pm
Here's what I was talking about----

As you might remember, Larry and I headed off for a vacation (on Monday April 13th) to Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
Everything was great, we boarded and sat there waiting for our first beverage offering from the airline attendants. I had closed my eyes briefly and then glanced at a magazine. Larry had his eyes closed too, but opened them and said he felt sick. I figured he meant nauseous so I checked the seat pockets for “vomit” bags. (Airlines no longer have them, by the way.) As I turned to tell him this, his eyes were weird--- his mouth down to his chin, pupils as big as saucers, he was sweating profusely, and he was gray. He didn’t speak, didn’t hear me, recognize me or respond in any way. His arms flailed. I shook him and told him to say something and all that. I grabbed the stewardess by the arm (She was standing just past our seat by now with the drink cart). I told her frantically that something was wrong and things went into action fast. No doctor on board, of course….. We tried to get a response from him and still nothing. Questions about allergies, diabetes, medications. All negative. He’s always been as healthy as a horse. Then, he was no better and failing fast. Stewardess called out for 4 strong volunteer men to put Larry flat on the floor of the plane, on his back, FAST! Several men came running to him as I untangled his legs from around the seat in front. I swear, I thought he’d be dead at any second. It was THAT bad. Either dead, or become a vegetable due to no oxygen in the brain. While down, his color returned a little bit, but he was still acting oddly. A nurse who was sitting across the aisle and forward a seat, took his BP. It was very very low. Cold wet rags were applied to his head and back of neck. Information was given to the airline attendants from me and they wrote down all details of the incident. He finally came to, stunned, not knowing why he lay on the floor with a million eyes peering down on him. He was sluggish but managed to get to his feet and was then helped to his seat. . He was given oxygen and orange juice and I continued to hold wet cold clothes to his forehead and neck. He began to drop out again, but didn’t quite get as bad as the first time.
After about 5 minutes of panic, it was determined that the plane would have to land and medics would have to come on board. We landed in Norfolk , Va. (only aobut 30 minutes into our flight. God was with us in that we were still in US territory. Had this happened anywhere in the islands, medical care would have been so bad he may never have lived. And if he had, the insurance would not have covered the care.

Anyway, the medics made us leave the plane and I’m glad. Larry, of course, wanted to go on to complete the vacation. He said he was feeling so much better but I was terrified to keep going. Well, off we went. EMT’s met us right there and took our carry-on luggage. Our checked bags stayed on the plane to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Off we went to the hospital, 20 minutes away. I could hear Larry talking the whole time in the back of the ambulance while I sat with the driver up front. Prior to this, the medics and airport personnel discussed the situation , the details and assured us that our bags would be safe, and that Am. Airlines would call us at the hospital to let us know when the bags arrived in San Juan.
When we arrived in the ER, he was seen right away.Everyone--, nurses, techs, docs, were shocked at our story. Everybody who is hearing this now, too, and knows us is in real disbelief. If he answered the same questions over and over 10 times, you can multiply that a few more times. I was a big part of conveying details, because he didn’t know everything since he was unresponsive, blacked out, unconscious for a good amount of time--- Just plain out completely. You name the test, and he had it done. And we didn’t have to wait too awfully long for the results, which was wonderful. Everything was negative and looked absolutely normal. We both felt great about that, of course, but I still wondered what happened and was scared to keep going anywhere, in a way. They kept saying possibly we could continue on to our vacation later that day or even the next, if that had to be. At this point, we were hopeful. But we also had to remember to notify the resort and airlines a gazillion times as things changed with each passing hour. I used the telephone so much I could scream.
The main doctor who was caring for Larry in the ER was stumped about one thing---- why this happened while he sat calmly, not standing or doing anything. She just didn’t like the sounds of it. Our hopes dimmed when she said she wanted to admit Larry to the hospital. She did, and I was on the phone again telling this to the airlines and resort. (Resort was to meet us with a representative at a certain airport in Tortola.) So he was kept for observation overnight and we still had hopes of continuing the next day, pending a good night and another test in the early morning. That test was an echocardiogram. Again, he had lots and lots of tests already and nothing showed a thing. He felt like a million dollars and still does. We waited all day to hear how it turned out because as soon as we got word he passed the test, we could leave. I had already booked another flight by that time! Finally, that afternoon (by which time, it was too late to get that 2nd flight anyway) I had to cancel it again and make one for the 3rd day, but there were NO flights that 3rd day, so it was the one after THAT---UGH!), anyway---- a doctor arrived wearing a white jacket with “Cardiology Department” written across the pocket. Well, my heart skipped 10 beats and so did Larry’s. His “echo” test was grossly abnormal. There is a number that measures the function of the heart, called the ejection fraction. It should read 50-80%. Larry’s was a mere 35%. It was super-serious. They had to do a cardiac catherization but it was too late that day so it was done early the next day. Making things more complicated was the fact that we didn’t want to go ahead with any of these procedures without family around. Nor did we want them done out of town. We wanted to go home, in familiar surroundings and with family. We worried if things were really really serious, surgery should be done where family can visit and give support. The doctors forbid him traveling or being driven in his condition. Our doctor discussed it with many others and all agreed it was like rolling dice on his life. He was not allowed to be driven in a car or ambulance with medics present either because at this point we didn’t know what test results would show. We knew it was bad and we had no choice but to go forth, so resigned ourselves and willingly went with the flow. In the meantime, we discovered that we were in one of the best cardiac hospitals anywhere and our doctor was very very well recognized in his field. I had said from the start that I trusted the guy wholeheartedly. I could tell he knew his stuff and was not being overly careful. He was right up front and minced no words. But he was not an alarmist either. Larry’s condition was this doctor’s specialty, as well . The doctor was a Hopkins man so ya know he was fantastic. Can’t ask for too much more than that!
Finally, the cardiac catherization result came back and the doc said his heart was as clear and as clean as a whistle, with no damage, just fine. No need for bypass and sees nothing wrong with it the vessel linings. But Larry was found to have a leaky aorta, (We knew that before the cardiac cath. test from something done earlier, the day before.) With that, the next step was to insert a defibrillator and that was done the same day in the late afternoon. However, once we knew about the cardiac catheterization test, we knew we couldn’t proceed with vacation, so again, I made calls, this time to cancel everything, including return flights.
Although there was a good result from the catheterization, we knew now that Larry had a very large heart and aorta but the heart was extremely weak, not pumping blood through the body like it should. So the defibrillator was absolutely necessary. He is now also taking 2 cardio meds and at first an antibiotic. He’s already been to his regular doctor here and a cariologist (one we both know very very well from our medical connections at the hospital where he works and I used to work. Better still, of course, is that he has a great reputation).
While this happened, Larry also saw an opthamologist too because every 5-6 months , his eyes get fuzzy a little bit for a few minutes. Soooooo, that’s the state of affairs from my end of the world. Larry has cardiomyeopathy, admission diagnosis was syncope, which for him =heart failure.
For two weeks he was not allowed to lift his arm above his, lift or push anything weighty, and shouldn’t sleep on the left side. Otherwise, after seeing the cardiologist, he was given permission to do anything he’s ever done. However, he’s not allowed to drive for 3 months.
I am totally exhausted, to say the least, and I am chauffering him everywhere almost daily.
Meantime, we heard from the resort who offered us credit to return within the year. God Bless them! (We are already rebooked for next April for a week at no extra cost. )
Luggage: We finally located our luggage and got it back late one night 3 days after returning home. It wasn’t in San Juan after all. It had never been checked into the computer ANYWHERE once off the flight we were on originally. They had to manually and visuallly look for it. It was locked up in Tortola but nobody knew for 3 days. I thought it was stolen for sure.
I finally got around to speaking to Am. Airlines since being home, , because everybody said even though we didn’t have flight insurance or travel insurance of any kind,, they might do something for us. In fact, I think Am. Airlines themselves said that during one of my many phone calls to them from the hospital. To sum up that part of the story, Larry’s cardiologist wrote a note confirming what happened and he will receive almost the entire amount of money for us both.
The hospital personnel treated us great. People were so upset for us, so sympathetic and sorry about everything. They gave me free food coupons for the cafeteria, free phone cards to call home and elsewhere. Two people offered their vehicles so I could shop for anything I needed. Two nurses lent out their cells phones to me on different occasions. They offered to get me a hotel room two blocks away at a huge discount rate (I refused). I’d never have slept and would have wondered what was happening at the hospital). I slept in the most uncomfortable chair on the planet in Larry’s room. I wore a hospital gown at night and a pair of hospital slipper socks, wrapped myself in many blankets. 3 nights of it! Even the surgeon was shocked to see me there one morning all tucked in. And we had no change of clothes. Imagine how we felt, or at least ME! I DID have my make-up, thank the Lord! Most of the time I was composed, but stressed to the hilt. Sometimes I’d break down from being tired and worn down. The first two days were kept from family because tests were fine and we thought we could finish the trip in V. Gorda. Once the catheterization was needed, I had to start making calls home. After that, of course, the calls increased in both directions. Then my friend who lives in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., Andrea, was going to fly down to meet me but it was almost time to know whether we could come home. But she was going to drop everything at work and at home to be there for me. She was also going to pick up luggage at the airport if it had been found and flown back home.
So, things are not settled by any means. Larry will be taking a beta-blocker and an ace inhibitor for life.

This has been updated. It was originally written in email form to several friends to let them know what happened right after we got home. I happened to still have it in my "Sent folder.

Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by mrsthing on 15 May 2009 12:41am
OMG, Patty--what a trial! But it sounds like all the right people were there when you needed them. That's such a comfort.

Alexandra had an episode after vomiting where she went completely white, even her lips, and her pupils dilated so you couldn't see the irises. Then she passed out. Turns out it was a precipitous drop in BP, and we have to watch her carefully now if she gets another stomach bug.

I have my stress test on Friday afternoon. If there's a problem, they'll have to send me for an angiogram. I hope they don't have to do that. But I expect it'll be fine. I suppose it's just as well they're doing this now instead of waiting until something serious happens. I guess...
Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by tucsonmike on 15 May 2009 4:08am
Good luck with your stress test. I hope you feel better soon.

Patty, that was a heck of an adventure you could have certainly done without!
Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by johnnythemonkey on 15 May 2009 9:04am
Really sorry to read about you and Larry's experience Patty. I had a feeling that something had gone wrong when to did'nt post about your holiday but could'nt have imagined what happened.
The good thing is ,Larry was well looked after and a previous undiagnosed condition is now being treated.
It's nice that the resort has offered you a holiday next year but I hope as soon as Larry is feeling better, you can have a much needed break nearer home.
Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by kazzzz on 15 May 2009 9:09am
Oh Judy so sorry to hear about your ordeal, and it's so similar from Larry's. I did know about Larry a couple of weeks ago and have been in email contact with Pats.

I'm really hoping that everyone will be OK, what a worry for all involved:(
Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by suzulu on 15 May 2009 11:33am
Judy and Patty, so sorry to hear about your ordeals. How very stressful for you all.
Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by johnnythemonkey on 15 May 2009 1:27pm
Sorry not to mention you in my earlier post Judy. After reading Patty's post, I forgot that it was you who started this thread. Glad to hear that you are at home and well after your ordeal.
Re: Mrs. Thing's Not So Excellent Adventure by Spursfan on 15 May 2009 2:39pm
There isn't a lot I can add, but just to wish you all well from now on!


Anne xx
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