Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hospitalization Recap

As promised, the story of my hospitalization, illustrated with pictures, in full color.

Was it the beer or the cheese food sauce?
Friend Keith Kohli and I bought tickets to a Reds-Braves game, Keith being a huge Braves fan. We bought the tickets via Stub Hub two months before the game, and got a good deal on seats in the 8th row, by the 3rd base dugout. We went early, went to Jungle Jim's amazing grocery store, the Reds Hall of Fame, then to Moerlein's Lagerhouse, to have one beer and munchies. All is well.

We got to the gate entrance to discover we had tickets for the wrong game! Somehow we both missed this! We had tickets for the following day's game, so at least they knew we were only stupid and not trying to get in on yesterday's stubs. So, we went to ticket window, bought tickets for this game, and suddenly I had huge pain in my gut that felt like gas. The woman at the ticket window told me there was a Walgreens two blocks away, so we head that direction so I could get Gas-X or some antacids.

This is as close as I would get to this game.
We were stopped at the intersection for a light, and suddenly this wave rushes over me. I was sweating profusely and felt faint. I thought I was going to throw up, and since I was leaning on a garbage can to hold me up, I figured I was well situated. But my knees buckled and I really thought I was going to drop. Felt delirious. Keith asked me if I was alright, and who knows what I said. There was a traffic cop nearby. Keith got his attention and he radioed for help.

The first person on the scene gave me oxygen. That was good! Helped a lot! Next guy there asked me if I had any tingling in my left arm. I did. I think this is because I hit myself goddamn hard on the thumb with a claw hammer on the thumb I've broken 7 times about 10 days before. It started then, and stayed with me, in my estimation, because I spend too much time at a computer. I digress, but the EMT thinks 'heart attack' and everything they are doing is geared towards that. I can't complain. Well, I was delirious, and what do I know anyhow. Besides, I was having trouble saying all of this.

They loaded me onto a gurney and wheeled me into the ambulance. Keith rode shotgun. They hit me with an IV to hydrate me. By time we got to the hospital, I was feeling a lot better. But, since I just scared the bejeezus out of everyone, they're going to run tests. The nurse turns me into a pin cushion trying to find a vein. I started singing "Sister Ray". I don't think anyone got the reference, which is a shame, although if the nurse got it he would have been annoyed at the very least.

Everything on this trip had a twist.

The discussions with docs lead to family history, and my dad's recent surgery to repair an aneurysm in the descending aorta. Now all focus goes there, heart attack being cleared. But one doc says that it was probably just indigestion. I was x-rayed. They gave me a CT scan. Don't know if you've ever had one, but they make you drink a quart of chalk-water (helpfully coconut flavored) and then before your second pass through the machine, they hit you with a solution (via the IV) that allows them to see the internal organs. Wow, that hurt the arm! Felt like the vein was going to explode.

Back to the room, and the solution I drank is living up to the nurse's predictions that I was have a violently upset stomach and diarrhea. At least I can count on the nurse's predictions. This is the worst I've felt all week. It passes, and feeling good, I discover cable TV. Storage Wars is really excellent programming when bored out of your skull and you don't have cable at home. But before long, I got to the stage where I felt so well that just being there makes you crazy. I can't wait to see the doc, expecting to hear that they can't figure it out, and I get discharged. 

Another lead followed was for elevated kidney and liver functions. The first blood test revealed activity that was off the charts. I was asked how many beers I had. One. How many did I have yesterday? None. The day before? One. In the past week? Two. In the past month? 3 or 4. I finally asked what this was all about and was told that if only I was a drunk, it would be so easy to explain. Well, damn my eyes and my bad luck at being so sober. It would have explained the elevated kidney and liver function.

Did I just undergo strenuous exercise? Strenuous, no, but I did go for a run two days before for the first time in 8-9 years. I managed all of a half mile before my calves cramped into knots.

Eureka! A broad smile crosses the doctor's face. Well! That explains the elevated kidney and liver functions. I had an episode of rhabdomyolysis. That means the muscle tissue broke down such that proteins were released into the body to the degree that the liver was struggling to break them down. Ok, nice, but why did I faint? And why did I have intense abdominal pain nowhere near the liver or kidneys, but instead right below the sternum?

No explanation. The upside is that I was tested for everything bad- heart disease, cancer, liver failure, kidney stones, gall stones, etc- and everything came back normal. I have relatively low blood pressure, so I get to eat salt without concern.

I felt bad for Keith, having teased him with great tickets for a game. We did get to see much of it on the hospital TVs, and since he was wearing a Braves jersey, the staff helpfully let him know every time the Reds scored a run. But once it was clear I was out of the woods, the realization struck that I drove and the car was back in a garage by the ballpark. He would have to take a cab to the car and drive it home after all this. Thank goodness he drives stick also! 

Back home, I've had a few blood draws to follow up, and the numbers are back near the normal range for the liver and kidneys. The only thing my doctor could offer about the fainting is that my heart does the opposite of what it should in the face of pain. It should pump more blood to the organs, but mine pumps less. I have to be self-aware, and if I feel it coming on, lay down right away because I can't very well cause my heart to pump more blood.

And, quite gratefully, I didn't scare Keith off from future ballpark road trips, though I suspect he will want to drive next time. 

1 comment:

Todd S. said...

Maybe it's something about GAB and Libertarians. In 2003 I was planning a trip to Cubs/Reds game with some co-workers. Right before we were set to leave, I felt a pain in my side and had shortness of breath. Gall bladder attack. I got to see some of the game on TV at the hospital as I waited for surgery. If memory serves, Shawn Estes pitched one of his best games ever for the Cubs.