Saturday, November 14, 2009

STILL scared and impatient

They scheduled the stress test and scans for Friday the 13th. So appropriate, given how that number follows me around.

On Thursday, the nuclear medicine department calls me to change the schedule.

"We ran out of the stuff that makes it easier and faster for the patient," the guy said. "So, we have to give you the other stuff."

Don't you love that?

So, I was to report to the hospital at 8:45 AM - fasting - for a 9:30 appointment. They'd do a chemically-induced stress test on me, since my back and knee won't allow me to be on a treadmill for long. Then, I receive the radioactive stuff (Thalium, I think) and get scanned. Then, I get more radioactive stuff and go home for four hours, and come back for more scans.

About 3:30 AM on Thursday, I woke up panicked. I was sure I'd just eaten some licorice and blown the whole test day. But wait....I didn't have any licorice. It was a dream. A very vivid dream. I tried to go back to sleep, but no good.

About 7:30 AM, my sister tells me to come down for breakfast. She's made waffles.

"I can't eat," I said.

"Oh no!" she said. "I'm sorry! And you've been smelling these cooking, too!"

Uhm, yeah.

Ranger picked me up to go to the hospital. He was super worried, I could tell. I changed into that lovely gown they give you and got an IV started. Then, I waited to be called for the test. Ranger and I made fun of a magazine in the waiting area. National Geographic....from July 1998!

Soon, a woman named Marijana (if that doesn't make you do a double-take....) came and got me for the test. They hooked me up to all the cords and the stuff that would simulate a physical stress test. It's day-glo yellow. Once it started, I felt flush and my head buzzed. And a headache started. And my stomach hurt. The test lasted for about 15 minutes. Then, I got the radioactive stuff and went to the scan room.

It looks like a feet-first open-air MRI. They strap you in and put your arms up, and you sit still while huge camera rotate around your chest, taking pictures of your radioactive, glow-in-the-dark heart.

Then, you get another dose of radioactivity and go away for four hours. This is when I noticed that they bring the medication to you in a lead container. Kind of intimidating....

When she put the medicine in my IV, she asked, "Does it give you a bad taste in your mouth?"

I said no. "It makes everything smell funny."

She gave me an odd look. "I've never had anyone say that before."


And I'm free to go. The headache has gotten worse, though. She gave me the remedy: "Go take a couple of ibuprofen and two cups of coffee. It'll reverse the effects of the stress test."

So, with that prescription, I head out with Ranger to find food and caffeine.

I made it about three blocks before the dry heaves set in. I was completely miserable.

We found food I could tolerate. While we waited for our order, Ranger ran across the street and bought some ibuprofen for me from a convenience store. It actually relieved him to have something to do that would help me. The poor guy just doesn't know what to do with himself when I'm feeling bad.

Long story short, four hours later, my headache was gone, and I went back for the second scan.

"When will I get the results?" I asked the radiology tech.

"It takes a couple of days to get the report," she said. "So, call your doctor on Tuesday and see if she has it yet."

Tuesday. Wait for Tuesday. Four days. Ugh. That's a big stretch of my patience.

So, I set about distracting myself. Ranger took me over to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I don't move so quickly these days, since they took me off of my anti-inflammatory in preparation for the surgery. The pain has been incredible. So, I made my slow-poke way around the store, looking for a new pillow and birthday ideas for my dad.

This is about when I realized that I left my cell phone at home. Dangit! So, I texted my mom and my daughter (she's in Vegas on a school trip right now) from Ranger's phone, to let them know to call me there.

Ranger and I decided to go to dinner, then call it a day. We had a delightful dinner out, with him being sweet to me. I'd taken some pain medicine, so I had the illusion of being pain-free for a short time.

We spoke loving words, and I appreciate so much how supportive he is of me. The health issues have been heavy lately. We talked about our first few dates, how we did some hiking around the Monument. Now, I couldn't do that. I look forward to being better able to move, without pain. There's a light at the end of the tunnel....

Back at home, we chatted with my mom and sister for awhile, watched a little TV. But it had been a long day, so Ranger headed for home early. Time to turn in.

"Where's my phone," I asked, before heading to bed. I'd missed a couple of Tweets. A text from Daughter, that she had re-texted to Ranger's phone. And a call from "Blocked ID" with a voicemail.

Probably a telemarketer, I thought, but I dialed voicemail anyhow.

But it wasn't a telemarketer. It was my doctor, calling from her private phone. At 5:30 PM. After office hours.

"Hi Blogget. Your test results show you definitely need more workup. We'll start first thing Monday morning to get you to a cardiologist before surgery time. You definitely need to be seen before you have surgery. This needs a closer look. If you have any questions, call me Monday. We open at 8:00 AM. Otherwise, we'll call you about your cardiologist appointment."

For a moment, I couldn't breathe. She sounded urgent. Concerned. I started to kick myself for forgetting my phone, but realized I wouldn't have answered a Blocked ID, anyhow. And she called after hours, so I couldn't have called her back right then, either.

I have to wait for Monday to get details. I don't even know what exactly is wrong with me. But I now know for sure, something is definitely wrong. With my heart. My heart. And it could have been going on for awhile.

My mother thinks it started when Son beat the crap out of me in April. She says that the week after that incident, I complained about my chest hurting. I just remember being bruised and sore. She says I haven't felt well since then. Then again, I have a family history of heart trouble that's scary, too.

I don't know what to think. It's like I can feel my heart beat, constantly. I find myself thinking, Was that right? Did it beat wrong just then?

Ranger took the news hard. He became very depressed that night, and he was desperate to prove to me that he would always be there for me, no matter what. He was afraid he hasn't done enough to show me that now. I'm afraid I was weak on convincing him he has not let me down, that I know he's there for me. I mean, I told him that, repeatedly, but I was too worn out with my own reeling from the news to completely reassure him.

I was just ill-equipped in that moment to handle someone else's emotions. Especially when he told me that he kept thinking of his ex-wife's brother, who went in for routine surgery and died on the table, with a heart problem that had recently been diagnosed.

"That didn't help me feel better," I said. He apologized for sharing that with me, that he should have thought more before speaking. We were both overly emotional at the time. Sleeping on it, as much as I could, helped a little.

So, I'm waiting again. Monday, I have to find a way to deal with this AND the visit by the HLC reviewers. I'm not sure how I'll pull that off.

11-17-09: My doctor got me an appointment with a cardiologist today at 12:45. Anxiously awaiting that appointment, to find out more details of what's wrong. My doctor explained yesterday that the radiologist called her Friday to say that I showed "borderline" reduced bloodflow to the coronary artery. The cardiologist will have to determine what needs to be done, if it can be done before my scheduled surgery, if the surgery needs to be rescheduled, or if the treatment can wait until after surgery. Stay tuned....

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