Thursday, January 7, 2010

Zap me once, zap me twice

There are some days in your life that stand out more than others.
The birth of my children are days I will never forget.
There’s also my wedding day and my wife’s birthday. Mind you those last two are more self preservation than anything else because if I forget those days, I’ll be sleeping in the garage in January.
A day of personal significance is Oct. 20, 2003. That’s the day I got to see the inner workings of the emergency room from a patient’s point of view.
I have had atrial fibrillation my entire life and normally it has not been a problem. I like to call it A-Fib, kind of like J-Lo or A-Rod.
I also call it the flippity-flop, because that’s what it feels like your heart is doing in your chest – flopping around. In reality, the atrium is beating at a different rate than the rest of your heart, causing the sensation.
Millions of people have it, and considering it is a heart murmur it is not too hazardous. It is not something to trivialize, but it will likely not lead to a heart attack.
Worst case scenario is the blood pools in your heart – which now that I think about it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun – and can form clots which can enter your brain and cause a stroke. That does not sound like much fine either actually.
Fortunately there are meds to keep the flippity-flop under control.
It is a strange sensation to feel your heart beating in a bizarre manner. It does get your attention.
Anyway, I woke up Oct. 20 with my heart jumping around my chest like one of those cartoon characters when they see a pretty girl.
I waited for it to settle down, which it usually did, but on this day it refused to go away so I got to go on an all-expense paid trip to the ER.
It’s not the first time I have been to the ER, but it was the first time I went there for myself. On past visits, it was my young daughter who needed medical attention for her asthma.
Of course, an asthma attack can’t happen during the day. That would be too easy. It has to happen at around 3 a.m.
During one family visit to the ER, police escorted a young man into the ward wearing a bloody shirt-handcuff ensemble complete with tattoos and bad attitude.
I am not sure what he was doing there, but I heard someone mention an accident and I thought if he got into an MVA while he was DUI he is SOL.
There were drunk people in there, or people on drugs or someone who had been in a fight – all in all it was an interesting crowd.
When I went in for my heart, it was in the morning and I was surrounded by the geriatric crowd so it was much quieter.
Nurses hooked me up to a variety of machines to see what my heart was doing only to come to the conclusion I was in full AF. No kidding.
They gave me a couple types of medicines, but nothing worked so the doctor said they were going to have to zap me. I am sure he used a much more professional doctor type phrase like intentional electrical introduction or something, but you get the idea.
The nurse said they were going to put me under and she injected some sort of knock-out medicine in my arm.
I can remember looking at the nurse as she asked how I was doing.
“I’m feeling pretty groovy,” was the last thing I remember saying before waking up 15 minutes later.
My heart felt normal and I felt good except for the small burns where the paddles jolted me with hydro juice.
“We hit you with 100 jules at first, but that didn’t work so we had to hit you with 200,” said the doctor who looked younger than my dog.
My first thought was, why didn’t you just hit me with 200 in the first place, but I am not a doctor and I am sure he knew what he was doing.
Or he just wanted to play with some of the cool machines he had lying about and he thought it looked neat when I got zapped.
“Watch how his leg sticks straight up every time I push the red button. Cool. Sure, you can try it. Hey guys, c’mere you gotta check this out.”
Either way I left feeling much better than when I showed up.

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