A couple of months ago – on Christmas Day in fact, Pat decided to scare the hell out of everyone and try to have a heart attack. He had been complaining for months of a sore shoulder but figured he was just getting old. He never had all the classic symptoms of a heart attack – chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in his arm – partly because he never actually HAD a heart attack. He had what is lovingly referred to as a ‘cardiac event’ – which means ‘either change your ways or we plant your ass in the ground”.
Christmas Day was the usual family craziness – children and grandchildren, laughter, dinner and we even threw in a surprise visit from our son, Bob who lives in New York. Before anyone tries to blame Bob’s surprise for Pat’s “cardiac event”, we have to give Bob credit for looking up heart attacks and all the bad things associated with it (including death) and picking at his dad until he finally agreed to go to the emergency room later that evening. In fact, I had been after him for weeks to see the doctor – but apparently he wants to keep his children happier than his wife, because they were all telling him to go to the hospital – and he finally (and thankfully) listened to them!
It is amazing how fast an old, slightly overweight man who complains of a possible heart attack gets into the emergency room. He immediately jumped to the head of the line, they hooked him up to monitors and starting poking and prodding him. The young woman who did the EKG took one look at it, tore it off the machine and ran out of the room without saying a word – definitely not a good sign.
After blood was taken, IV’s hooked up and some nitroglycerin administered, the doctor came in told us that Pat’s EKG was a little ‘wonky’ and looked ‘funky’. Although I was a medical transcriptionist for seven years, these were medical terms with which I was not familiar. The doctor explained that Pat had not had a heart attack but they wanted to keep him overnight, do an echocardiogram in the morning and possibly a heart catheter after that. For the lay person – this means they wanted to make sure he didn’t have a real heart attack after they sent him home, so they were going to keep him up all night monitoring him and then give him more tests in the morning.
During all of this, Pat was still protesting that it was just his shoulder which hurt from lifting too many bags of leaves and being old. Nobody was listening to him any longer – they figured the blood had been cut off to his brain and he was just rambling.
The next day, Pat was cranky from being awakened at regular intervals during the night, having needles in his arms and there being absolutely nothing worth watching on TV! The echocardiogram was performed and ‘blips’ were found. Again, one of those pesky new medical terms that was going to cause more tests.
We now proceeded to the next step of the process, having a heart catheter procedure. To put this in plumber’s terms, they snake a wire through your pipes to check for any clogs. Unfortunately, in Pat’s case, they found a big fur ball in one of his pipes and his plumber had to get it opened back up. The procedure itself went smoothly – but Pat’s main complaint was about the before/after experience. His plumber/doctor liked to play rock music during the procedure – and it was music Pat loved – except maybe not under these conditions – as he fell asleep Pat heard Bad Moon Rising and You’re Already Gone being played – which didn’t do much to calm him down. As he woke up, he thought he was dead since Stairway to Heaven was being played. Pat told them they really need to think about their playlist.
Pat’s guardian angels were working overtime for him – but they had time to plant a few ‘laugh’ seeds to keep things interesting. We learned the new medical terms of ‘funky’, ‘wonky’, and ‘blip’. Pat learned what a ‘bikini wax’ was as he was being prepared for surgery (he doesn’t want one in the future – the bikini wax – the surgery sounded a lot less painful). He listened to good music – although not quite appropriate for the moment – but it now supplies a lot of laughs for people when he describes his experience.
However, the best part of having his guardian angels around was that Pat only had a ‘cardiac event’ and not a full-blown heart attack – so we get to keep him around for a while longer – and remind him that if he doesn’t behave and go to the doctor when he has pain, we will take him for a bikini wax.