I received quite a surprise this Holy Thursday. I noticed that my heart rate had been slowing. I tend to be like a rabbit in many ways. I use the Rabbit analogy in how I experience myself. My heart tends to have a fast beat. My mind races, not so much in lots of directions, but it seems to make lots of jumps and makes too many comparisons for others to keep up with me. It is not that I am smarter, just run at high speed. I eat fast and talk, I am told, rapidly. Even when in top shape in my younger years, my heart rate never went below 70. The week before Holy Thursday I was very fatigued and found myself breathless if I walked very fast, or attempted to go up stairs. On Holy Thursday my heart rate was in the 30’s and 40’s. So I had a John, a good friend drive me into the emergency room at the VA hospital, here in Atlanta.
Of course with my symptoms I was taken back at once and put in a room so that they could monitor my heart beat. I was dizzy and slightly nauseous. I have no complaint about the Atlanta VA. The doctors come from Emory and they also bring their students in for experience. They did not know how serious my problem was, or if I needed a Pace Maker or not. So I was admitted.
The room I occupied was empty at first but I soon got a room mate. His name of Eugene and he was a cook at one of the Restaurants at the Atlanta, Airport. I like cold, he liked hot, so he had the room at 75. After about an hour of feeling like was going to suffocate, I asked him if I could turn the temperature down a bit. I exclaimed my intense discomfort n a room that is blowing hot air. He nicely agreed. After an hour or so I asked how he was doing. He said he was fine, but I could tell by his position in bed that he was cold. I explained to him that I was not using any cover and would be honored if he accepted my blanket. He said no, but I told him that I will not use it; I find the room just right. So he agreed and I covered him up. I felt bad about asking him, but once he was covered he slept very well. I also had the window view and could see a bit of Atlanta’s skyline. The floor was quiet, though of course we both had to be monitored. So I can’t say I was able to get any real rest while there. So many beds, so little rest; not a complaint, the care is needed.
On the second day it was decided that I would get a Pace Maker. The lead doctor, after looking at my EKG’s, decided that the stress test that they were going to give me was not productive. So I as scheduled that day for the operation. I was happy, because if not that day, I would have to wait until Monday for the procedure. When I was taken down to have the pace machine installed, I was surprised that I was not nervous. In the past, the slightest medical procedure would make me tense and anxious. So I was happy about the change.
They gave me some medicine to induce twilight sleep, but it did not work very well. So I remembered the whole thing. I think the medicine was called ‘Verside?’ The only thing it did was to make me slightly more nauseous. They used a local pain killer around the Pace Maker sight. There was some pain but it was bearable. I felt like a lump of dough being kneaded and made a statement to that effect. They laughed and said they understand for they had to push hard to get the Pace Maker in Place. It took about 30 minutes and I was taken up to my room.
I did have some problems while there. My blood pressure became very high after the procedure and I develop a severe headache. Starting at the neck and then ending up in the top of my head. I felt like someone thrust an ice pick into the area. I would slowly build up to an 8 or 9 on the pain scale. If it ever got to a 10, I think would have got up and ran around the hallways screaming trying to get rid of the pain. It was constant. They had some strong painkillers that I could receive every six hours. The meds worked for four hours. I would receive two tablets at once. On the second morning I asked the nurse if I could just take one and then in four hours take the second. He was kind enough to do that. However I found that I really hate narcotics. They make me woozy and depressed. So I asked to be switched to Tylenol. A mistake, for I thought I would get two tablets every 4 hours. Instead I was getting just one every six hours. So I had a very bad 24 hours. I was surprised at how afraid I became and how difficult it was to keep my body from bolting. I knew I was going to be ok, but the chronic pain, without my being able to take my own over the counter pain medicine was difficult to handle. When the doctor came I explained my problem and she told me that many people come in with Tylenol toxicity, so they were hesitant to give too much. When I explained my pain and how I could not eat because of that, she became concerned and authorized me to receive two at a time, though only every six hours. I was thankful that she listened to me.
I was supposed to go home on Sunday, but they said they had to keep me another day because my potassium was too low. So they hooked me up to an IV and started it. Later in the afternoon they asked me if it was ok to move me to another room. My other roommate left earlier in the afternoon. I said yes of course. My new room mate was named Spike; he was 68 years old and talkative. He was a smart man and I enjoyed listening to him. About an hour after getting settled, I was told that I could go home if my potassium level was at a certain level. So I called Method and asked if he was willing to come and get me. He said yes. My level was up and here I am at home. I felt bad about Spike though and thought I should have stayed another night. He was there for eight days and he seemed to like my company. To say I am happy to be home is an understatement. It is nice; it will take about a week for me to get back to normal. I like being by myself. I am not a rabbit then. I slow down, mind gets settled and I even eat a bit slower. So solitude is not only good for my soul but for my body as well.