Twenty Four Hours

It’s true what they say. Life can be jogging along quite nicely with very little drama or disruption and then unexpectedly from out of left field, boom! I had been experiencing some mild chest pains for some time, but they were inconsistent. Then last Tuesday I was having dizzy spells and I lost my balance a few times to add insult to injury.

Following some constant nagging from my dear wife, I decided to call my medical provider, Kaiser Permanente. Most of the branches remain closed owing to COVID 19, and one has to negotiate a series of ever decreasing circles to make an appointment with one’s doctor. I was eventually put through to a nurse adviser who asked me to describe my symptoms. Twenty minutes elapsed and she announced that she arranged for me to have an evaluation at one of their Medical Centers which was open.

She then proceeded to give me instructions: ” please arrange for somebody to drive you there within the next two hours. Go to Advanced Care and collect $200, no that’s Monopoly.  Give the Receptionist your name and health care number. She will do the rest.” My wife drove and we arrived a little after 2pm, but  wasn’t allowed to come in due to the COVID 19 restrictions.

No sooner had I found a seat in the waiting room practicing social distancing and wearing a mask, I was whisked into a medical room by  a couple of nurses who took my temperature and blood pressure. Another nurse arrived shortly after, sat me in a wheelchair and transported me to the Cardiology Department. Yet another nurse directed me to a private room and asked me to remove my clothes and put on one of those ridiculous hospital gowns and lay on the bed.

The vampire nurse arrived and extracted the first of many blood samples. A very sallow looking doctor walked in and announced that I was being wheeled out for a couple of X-Rays and would be having a CT-Scan later in the afternoon. I returned to my room and was hooked up to a series of wires which were fixed to my chest. The blood pressure strap was attached to my arm and would remain there for the rest of the day and night, taking my blood pressure every twenty minutes.  Oh yes, despite my repeated protests it was confirmed I would be staying overnight for continuous observation. Did I forget to mentions the oxygen clip attached to my finger. The Vampire nurse returned and inserted a IV tube in my arm to save me from any unnecessary punishment. This would prove to be very useful the next morning.

Somewhere among these various tests I attempted to call my wife who could have been dying of heat stroke sitting outside in her car. I had no service on my phone and a nurse was kind enough to lend me a phone. Fortunately my wife was still breathing when I finally managed to get through to her, and I gave her list of essential items I needed to survive the night. She did a pitiful impression of Arnie, and said: “I’ll be back!”

Later in the afternoon with X-Rays and CT-Scan completed, a nurse  hooked my phone up with the medical center’s WIFI. I called my wife again, and  I pleaded with her to bring me some food as I had not eaten since 7.00am, and a nurse had warned me that Medical Center cuisine was barely edible. The nurses were very  considerate, but my wife was my guardian angel. She dropped off my essential supplies along with my evening meal at approximately  7pm which was delivered to me by a masked security guard. Chicken nuggets, waffle fries and diet lemonade from Chik-Fil-A had never tasted so good.

I devoured every single morsel and crumb, and attempted to settle down for a very long night. Try having forty winks with a blood pressure strap squeezing your arm every twenty minutes, wires attached to your chest, an oxygen clip attached to your finger, and an IV tube dangling from your arm. By the way I can’t sleep on my back.

Miraculously I was beginning to doze when there was a knock on the door and in walked yet another nurse who I hadn’t seen before. She wanted to take another blood sample, but because of some protocol couldn’t use the IV tube, and promptly stuck a needle in my hand to earn her share of the pickings.

I was instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight, and I attempted to batten down the hatches for the night. Thank goodness I had my kindle to rely on because sleeping was virtually an impossibility. I did manage to doze for an hour only to be awakened by another nurse who determined my oxygen levels were low and she proceeded to place a breathing tube up my nostrils. No you will not sleep on my watch!!!

Daylight finally arrived at around 6.30, and I was informed I would be taken at 8.30 to another department and prepped for a “nuclear stress test.” The normal treadmill test was not available because of COVID 19. Upon arrival  I was required to drink a pint of water and walk continuously for twenty minutes. I was then transferred to another room and a chemical was fed into my body intravenously which simulated the treadmill test.

The only reaction I experienced was chills with goose bumps rapidly appearing on my arms. Feeling no worse for wear apart from goose bumps and having to eat peanut butter crackers, and  drink a small glass of coke to counteract the chemical circling my body, I was wheeled back to my room to await the results of my tests.

Two hours later, yet another doctor   whom I had not seen before, entered my room. She announced that all my tests had come back and were negative. The tests couldn’t find anything wrong with me. So I was prompted to say: “That’s good news, but does that mean I’m a hypochondriac?” She replied: ” No, it means we have eliminated certain issues, and you will need to arrange an appointment with your primary care doctor to discuss the next course of action.”

Twenty four hours later, almost to the minute, my wife was waiting for me outside to take me home. Watch this space for further developments.

 

 

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