Re: I think I'm having a stroke

Author:Jim Vandewalker

Email:jimvan@gate.net

Date:1998/04/03

Forums:alt.slack

 

In article

<mtown11send-0304980620410001@1cust19.max12.boston.ma.ms.uu.net>,mtown11send@earth11link.net (Michael Townsend) wrote:

{ In article i.stang-ya02408000R0204982201080001@enews.newsguy.com

{ i.stang@subgenius.com (Rev. Ivan Stang) wrote

{

{ --> Dad, even though you make so many snide comments about my taste in music, I

{ --> still wouldn't want you to keel over of a stroke and get MORE brain damage.

{

{ Well thanks Rev. Stang, and thanks to the rest of you well-wishers.

{

{ Unfortunately, I wasn't kidding.

{

{ So I went to my doktor yesterday morning,

{ Saw the

{ neurologist in the afternoon, and he immediately scheduled an MRI.

 

Must be a lot of that stuff going around. I just spend most of the last

four days in the hospital. And what I found out was country music videos

sure are WHITE. They have a LOT of Big Blonde Hair gathered around wailing

adenoidal singers, many of whom are overweight guys in HUGE HATS. And

boots. Wearing black. Country music GIRL SINGERS are a LOT BETTER LOOKIING

than country music guy singers.

 

Tony was my second roommate and he turned on the TeeVee first thing after

they came and stuck us both for blood at 5:30 in the morning and left it on

all morning, and didn't, so far as I can tell, look at it much after that.

In fact, he first left it tuned to Nick, Jr, which is pre-schooler cartoons

(I kind of liked the Richard Scarry cats and pigs at first, but it got

really creepy after a while.)

 

My first roommate was Jody, one of those little scrawny rednecks who always

look dirty: grubby-looking skin, greasy hair -- no front teeth, had that

mush-mouthed whistle on sibilants, sounded like a HeeHaw reject. He

complained bitterly about being nearly blind and wanted to get out of the

hospital so he could go back to "makin' shum money," although he told the

social worker he was unemployed because of not being able see well enough

at night to drive a truck. He also spent some time calling his [presumably]

wife to assure her that his application for SSI would't affect her three

children's checks. The edges of some deep-laid welfare scam, I suppose. He

looked like he was about 65, but kept repeating that he was "just a young

guy, only 45 years old, only 45 years old." He had the fixed grin and

wide-eyed bonhomie of a -- a -- well, some stereotype with a fixed grin and

wide-eyed bonhomie.

 

Jody was there when I came in and watched while about eight nurses and

aides, and janitors for all I know, attacked me and stuck NEEDLES in me and

sucked out a LOT of BLOOD and pumped in CLEAR FLUID, including

nitroglycerine which has NO FUTURE as a recreational drug. There's some

rush when it chops the bottom out of your blood pressure but it gives you a

terrible headache. They let Jody go not long after lunch, about which he

complained bitterly. Hospital food is never greasy or salty enough for

your true down-home redneck. I didn't care much. I laid there and looked

at all the wires and tubes hooked up to me and thought about mortality.

 

Tony showed up late in the afternoon with his wife, a truly spectacular

woman, well above six feet in height and surely about 250 pounds (seventeen

stone) in weight, not huge of girth so much, but enormously THEWED, with

thighs like nail kegs and a chin like a baseball. No eyebrows or eyelashes.

She wore stained electric blue knit pants and a Devil Rays t-shirt Tony,

like me, had some chest pain and was scheduled for a stress test next day.

Unlike me, he had only a heart monitor with insectile wires stuck all over

his chest and a WalkMan sized broadcast unit in a kangaroo pocket in his

hospital gown. Thus he was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom, while

I was tethered to my IV pole and my Heparin and nitroglycerine drips and

had to pee in a bottle in bed.

 

The night shift nurses showed up with bunny ears -- in honor of Easter, I

guess, and not Hugh Hefner. Debbie was a sarcastic brunette with (based on

her hyperkinetic demeanor) some potential for prescription drug abuse. Or

she may be naturally wired. Or maybe she just goes home and kicks her cat.

Mary was a sly readhead who likes to pull tape off hairy body parts --

actually what she liked were the screams of agony, so I (no stoic) was her

favorite patient.

 

Tony's wife left fairly early and I eavesdropped an incomplete domestic

drama. Tony called home several times during the course of the evening and

she wasn't home yet. Well after the 11:30 bloodletting, Tony had a call

from Dawn (the giantess's name) and asked her where she'd been. I couldn't

hear the answer of course, but she showed up the next morning after I got

back from my stress test and he asked her the same thing, and other than

some not particularly responsive remarks about going to Winn-Dixie for

milk, she never answered. Tony did not confront her with the fact that it

doesn't take three hours to get milk from the Winn-Dixie.

 

She'd showed up with assorted Egg McMuffins, and other direct-application

cholesterol goodies because Tony'd told her to bring him some "real food."

He had, of course, the same objection to grease-deficient hospital food as

Jody. Tragically though, Tony was on "Nil Per Os" because of his pending

stress test, so he got to lie there and watch her eat. J. Spratt and

spouse, Tony being a long thin drink of water.

 

My stress test was not comforting. I got up when they came for me and

brushed my teeth with zinc oxide and fish-oil ointment, something I've been

afraid I would do since I started carrying the tube around in my shaving

kit (due to the onset of these hemorrhoids) because the it looks so much

like a toothpaste tube. In the event, it was not quite as horrible as I had

feared, but it boded ill, I thought. I was plonked into a wheelchair, my

wheeled IV pole between my knees and whirled through a maze of corridors to

NUCLEAR MEDICINE, where I was injected with RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPES, lashed to

a ten inch wide plank and shoved into a WHIRRING, GRINDING MACHINE, while

the tech complained bitterly on the phone about the tyrannical nature of

radiologists and their contradictory demands, and IMAGES blinked on and off

on computer monitors.

 

Then I was hauled out and propped up on a treadmill JUST LIKE LIFE. They

started out easy and then got FASTER and STEEPER. At the end, puffing and

wheezing, I was RUNNING HARD just to STAY IN ONE PLACE. Before they do

this to you they make you read a paper that says, basically, that sometimes

patients DROP DEAD from this procedure, and if you do, it's not their

fault. Once again, JUST LIKE LIFE. Off the treadmill, it was more

RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPES and back to the WHIRRING, GRINDING MACHINE.

 

Back at the room, kindly Nurse Ratched gave me some soggy toast and what I

am sure is called a "serving" of Special K. This was one of those plastic

tubs with a pull-off lid where the container bulks far more than the

contents. No doubt some accountant could prove in mind-numbing detail how

much less expensive it is for the hospital to buy "servings" like this than

to pay minimum wage to get dishes washed. I also had a cup of the second

worst coffee I have ever had. The worst had been the night before's

"snack" -- a tiny tub of orange sherbet and a styrofoam cup of coffee that

surely had been in the pot for weeks. It had that delectable greenish

tinge and that oily viscid feel on the tongue. I drank it all, had a

sleeping pill with the 11:30 bloodletting, and slept as well as you can

with a forest of wires stuck to your chest and a needle in the back of your

hand.

 

After my late breakfast -- Tony's stress test had been put off to 3:00 and

he'd only been allowed some toast -- Tony had the TeeVee on the country

music video station. Finally he dozed off and I turned the box off. When

he woke up, I tried to be a Good Roommate and said "Why don't you turn the

TV back on if you want to," but he declined, and dozed fitfully, clearly

disoriented at being in the presence of a TV set not on and babbling. He's

the same kind of soft-spoken, non-assertive redneck I got drafted with all

those years ago. These folks have some limitations in the areas of

intellectual companionship, but bigod there's none better to be in the Army

with. If I'm gonna get shot at, I wanna be surrounded by Southern poor

white trash every time. I had some experience with big city boys and

Midwesterners -- I once wound up in a platoon full of blue-collar louts

from Cleveland, perfectly stereotypical ethnocentric xenophobes who went to

define "Ugly American" -- and I was DAMN GLAD to get back to the rednecks.

Their casual brutality, disregard for their own and everyone else's

mortality, sardonic self-deprecation and natural affinity for engines and

firearms make them the BEST KIND of soldier.

 

Tony came back from his stress test and said "Quick as they come in here

and tell me my papers is ready I'm OUTA here." He called home, but Dawn

the Giantess wasn't there yet, even though it was now 3:30 and Dawn had

left the hospital about 12:30. Tony left, wishing me luck, and I never

learned any more about Dawn's curious inability to get home in a reasonable

time.

 

My stress test results were not comforting. The cardiologist told me there

were indications of ischemia (a nice way of saying DEAD HEART MUSCLE),

apparently not large, but this test couldn't pinpoint location. The

choices were to catheterize (i.e., stick a periscope on a wire from the

femoral artery in the groin up into the coronary arteries) or to try to

manage the condition with medication. The latter being less invasive,

that's what we opted for and, after some infuriating bureaucratic

confusion, I was sent home at 9:00 that night. Ringing in my ears, however

were the cardiologist's dire warnings that if I had ANY PAIN I was to get

myself POSTHASTE back to medical care.

 

Well, I got home, had a brief look at the email and alt.slack, and turned

in, rejoicing at being in bed with NO WIRES or TUBES. 4:30 am, however,

brought wakefullness and the same chest pain that had taken me to the

doctor's office two days before. I got up and had a shower, knowing that I

wasn't going to get the chance again soon, skipped breakfast, and had

Maggie drive me out to the Emergency Room, where I explained the SAME THING

to each separate person I met, several of whom were probably janitors and

telephone technicians.

 

I will say that persons showing up in the ER complaining of chest pain DO

NOT WAIT. They are forthwith whisked to the back, stripped, and STUCK FULL

OF NEEDLES. The nitroglycerine drip was no better the second time around.

One nurse figured a single IV would be okay, and got that started, no

problem. Even though she appeared to be only twelve years old, she was a

dab hand with the needle. Her partner, a lout with delusions of George

Clooney, insisted that because there were going to be two different

medications (nitro and Heparin again) there had to be two separate IVs, and

started gouging at my hand. When he failed to get a good stick, he allowed

that both meds could run into the same tube. I then lay there for THREE

HOURS watching people walk back and forth in the hallway talking on cell

phones. All the conversations appeared to be about shopping lists and the

night's social calendar. Garbled radio transmissions from EMT trucks could

be heard.

 

Finally a sulky and well-upholstered young woman showed up to take me to

"the Bay." Unfortunately she let my IV line dangle over the edge of the

gurney and hardly slowed at all when it snagged on a stationary object we

were passing at walking speed. This HURT INTENSELY. The young woman was

annoyed at my expression of agony, but stopped and gathered up my IV line

from where it had been dragging on the floor, perfunctorily checked to see

if much of the back of my hand had been ripped off, and with a bad grace,

wheeled me into the elevator.

 

At the Bay I was descended upon by another gaggle of nurses, and SUBJECTED

TO INDIGNITIES. I was shaved in INTIMATE PARTS, had ANOTHER IV started, and

was told to compose myself to be catheterized. I then lay there for FOUR

HOURS, and listened to the fellow in the next enclosure explain (several

times) how, having grown up in the hills, he had been used to having

everything fried, although he had since cured himself of this cultural

quirk, and now committed no dietary sins except for an overweening fondness

for cheese. He swore he ate salad many times per week and red meat only

once. Also the woman with him was not his wife, athough they had been

living together for five years. He claimed a great hatred for cookies and

candy bars and denied all use of fast-food burgers and fries. Although

equipped with a convincing southern accent, he was clearly not a good ol'

boy of the same calibre as Jody and Tony had been. I read a book about the

supposed treason of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson immediately before WWII

and dozed fitfully.

 

At 2:00 the whole bed was wheeled into the Cath Lab, and I was transferred

to another plank-like table, this one not quite so narrow. I was swabbed

with Betadine and LARGE QUANTITIES of DRUGS were dumped into my various IV

lines. I must say that FINALLY these were some substances with recreational

potential. I was DRUNK AS A COOT within minutes. I have vague memories of

being prodded at DOWN THERE, and then finally being able to see a looping

video of an invisible and throbbing heart delineated by branching

radio-opaque blood vessels. And the cardiologist said there was NO

INDICATION of obstruction. ALL CLEAR on the coronary front. The stress

test was a FALSE POSITIVE.

 

So apparently we're back to the gastro-esophageal theory of the origin of

my early-morning chest pain. However, even though cleared of all suspicion

of cardiac disease, I nevertheless had a BIG HOLE in my femoral artery, a

blood vessel from which it is possible completely to exsanguinate (this

means BLEED TO DEATH) in SECONDS, its volume and pressure are so high. I

had also spent the day being pumped full of ANTI-COAGULENTS, so there was

some realistic concern that if the cork were removed untimely, I might

FOUNTAIN TO THE CEILING. Therefore I was left to enjoy my drug-induced

stupor for a while and then SET UPON by a pair of nurses who CLAMPED ME TO

THE BED while they drew the catheter. This took half an hour by the clock.

They then put a sandbag in my groin and enjoined me from raising head or

leg and left me to my own devices. The rest is silence, broken only by me

fitfully trying to sleep YET ANOTHER NIGHT hooked to BEEPING MACHINES with

NEEDLES IN MY ARM.

 

--

Jim the Prophet

Licensed SubGenius Preacher

jimvan@gate.net