Friday, August 25, 2006

Heart Attack at 24

I knew it was coming but I had been trying to avoid emergency rooms and doctors at all costs. Most nights I went to bed thinking "Well, I made it through last night, why should tonight be any different?" I had been experiencing some very odd and irregular heartbeats. I attributed it to a lot of unnecessary stress I'd been putting on myself. Though it seemed as good a reason as any, one can only take so many nights of needlessly fretting a heart attack at the young age of 24 before breaking down and calling the doctor, and it would be just my luck that my doctor couldn't see me for three weeks. Oh well, I've made it three months, what's another one?

All I wanted was someone to hold a stethoscope to my chest and tell me I was perfectly fine. I was entirely ready to be told I had gone crazy and all I was feeling was my heart beating, haven't you ever felt your heart beat before, girl? No big deal. I could wait another month for that to happen.

I made it 48 hours before telling Jon, only half serious, that the reason the dog was clinging to me was because he knew I was going to die tonight. He grabbed my purse and sandals and whisked me and my beat-skipping heart off to the emergency room.

They admitted me immediately and wasted no time ordering me out of my clothes and into one of those one-sided tablecloths with arm holes and two strings to tie it closed in the back. They rigged my body with enough stickers and wires that I must have resembled a bomb and they finished me off with a band to take my blood pressure and a finger contraption that I dubbed Robofinger. They left me in a bed with a warm blanket and turned off the light. I took advantage of the time by ceaselessly watching the machine as it advertised my heartbeat and I was happily surprised when every six or so beats the line would go flat before picking up again, as if my heart really was skipping a beat. I would have jumped up and down, announcing to the entire hospital how relieved I was that I wasn't making it up if so many wires hadn't tied me down. Instead I nodded my head and wiggled my feet with a "Yep! I knew it!" and continued my stare down with the machine.

Doctors and nurses came and went taking blood from my hand and adhering more stickers to my back, chest, hips, and ankles for an EKG. They took my blood pressure while I was lying down, sitting up, and standing on my head and kept asking me if I felt lightheaded or dizzy. "No. I feel fine except for this annoying flutter in my chest," I told them. I heard whispers of "Isn't she too young for this?" "What do you think the problem is?" coming from the nurses. I couldn't decide if it was a good or bad thing that I had come in here and baffled them.

I spent the next two hours listening to the man in the next room as he sobbed after he was told he couldn't smoke in the hospital and cursed the police for bringing him in. He and the female nurses were having a standoff and he threatened to kick them in the balls if they came any closer.

After a while the doctors allowed a red-eyed Jon to come back and sit with me while we waited on test results. "Were you sleeping out there?" I asked him.

"Almost." He said. "I watched Leno and then Conan. Last Call just started and I was drifting off when they came to get me. How are you?"

"I'm okay. Watch that machine to see what I've been feeling!"

The results surfaced around 3:00 in the morning on Thursday and a very fatigued looking doctor reported to us. "Your test results show that you are a very healthy 24 year old and nothing is wrong except for the PVC's or Premature Ventricular Contractions we found in the EKG. We don't have any reasons why someone as young as you would get them but I can assure you that they are harmless." She went on to explain how this has to do with the electrical system of the heart and though it feels as though it is a skipped beat it is actually a premature beat. She instructed me to follow up with the cardiologist within the week for further analysis. After asking all of the questions that Jon and I could think of that early in the morning, I was told I could get dressed and I was handed my release papers. I was a little upset that I was told I could experience these chest flutters for the rest of my life and I think it showed.

"Do you want me to stand outside while you get dressed?" Jon asked.

"Umm.. yes, I don't want anyone to get any ideas, but I think I'm going to need your help locating all of these freaking stickers."

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