Thursday, April 24, 2008
A trip to the ER
Unfortunately, not the one with Juliana Marguiles and Laura Innes--damn! Though my nurse there was very nice, and put in my IV with a minimum of bleeding and pain, and brought me those warmed blankets that are as good as sex and better than chocolate. (Sidenote: it's time for Name That Arrythmia! Look at it--do you know?)
I haven't been feeling well for a while--crampy, painful muscles; racing heart; general crappiness--and yesterday morning I was feeling really shaky. Lo and behold, I hit the ground like Ike hit Tina Turner (wasn't meant to be a joke; I done fell out). My lovely coworkers called down to the ER and got me on the fast track (one of them is a nurse whom EVERYONE in the hospital knows and loves--seriously, I think she may be the nicest person I have ever met. Not liking Lynn seems inhuman, sacriligeous, like saying you don't like fluffy bunnies or sunny spring days). I know her people skills played a major role, but I think saying "Our little research assistant passed out with no provocation--oh, and she's pale and diaphoretic" probably didn't hurt. Although I will say I wasn't wholly pleased to be described like one would describe a puppy or Precious Moments figurine (I had one of these growing up; even then it creeped me out the door. I'm pleased to say my hipster taste was present from an early age). "Our little research assistant" indeed.
She helped me into a wheelchair and, ignoring my insistence that I was fine, wheeled me down to the ER. By this point I had my wits about me again and felt like a total idiot, being wheeled somewhere I could easily have walked, and where furthermore I didn't think I needed to go at all. Like having someone drive you to your mailbox when not only is it 5 feet from the house, but also it's a Sunday and so the mail isn't even delivered. Once I got there, though, I made a shocking discovery, on the scale of Lister's discovery of antisepsis or FOX News' discovery that people will slurp down propatainment with a spoon and chocolate sauce. Yes, Virginia, I am not always right.
An EKG revealed a significant arrythmia and my bloodwork showed that my electrolytes had taken a big dive. WTF. Reassurance, assuming you care at least a smidgen--no, that's not the arrhythmia I had. It's pretty, isn't it? A trigonometric equation written to describe it would be elegant indeed, I'm sure. However, looks are deceiving: this is called Torsades de Pointes, and one the scale of Things Your Heart Can Be Doing, this rates an "Oh f*ck!" Mostly because it can easily go into ventricular fibrillation, which rates a double "Oh f*ck" and next to, say, asystole, is about as bad as things get. On TV shows, prolonged fibrillation is the point at which folks get the paddles slapped on their chests as Juliana or Laura starts shouting, "Everyone CLEAR!" My Q-T interval just decided it wanted to be long, which means various tachyarrhythmias (screwed up heart rhythms that happen to be faster than 100 bpm).
So I spent five hours in the ER yesterday, chilling in an oh-so-comfy hospital bed (and trying to sneak peeks at my heart monitor without setting off the alarm--apparently passing out without anywhile they hooked me up with IV fluids and potassium. Oh, and a series of EKGs to see how rehydration and 'restocking' my store of electrolytes would affect my heart. And a drinkable orange-flavored potassium supplement. I will not say that the supplement tasted like ass; if it had tasted like ass that would have been an incredible improvement. It did, however, taste quite orange: the color, not the fruit. I used to think that if doctors went to hell, all they would have to drink would be unflavored Ceftin liquid mixed with MiraLax. Ew. Now I know that in addition, their evening glasses of scotch will be replaced with an unstaunchable river of K-Lyte.
Long story short, after all the brewhaha, folderol, and shenanigans, things showed up as more-or-less normal and they let me go. But damn. So a lesson was learned yesterday: do not ignore your body, listen to your coworkers, and be nice to the nurses because they're the ones who can unhook you from all the monitors to let you go pee.