Tuesday, April 21, 2009

from the Journal Jar

It's a toss up - appendix or heart?

JULY 1989
I had my appendix out when I was pregnant with Nathan. It hurt REALLY REALLY bad! The doctor asks, "On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate the pain." This would be a 10 - trust me. I had already given birth once before, so I know. Only I told the doctor it was "probably a 9." Because, maybe, MAYBE there is worse pain out there. (Don't tell me if there is. I don't want to know.) I couldn't even walk. It hurt to move my feet forward. (Did you realize you have muscles that pull your feet forward? Well, you do, in your abdomen somewhere near your appendix) The doctor wasn't sure what was wrong with me. Was it the baby? Was it me? Difficult to say. So into surgery I went, lots of doctors for me, more doctors for the baby. Turns out it was me! or more precisely my appendix. It hadn't burst, YET, but it was really, really close. And the worst part was - I had to be in the hospital over the 4th of July holiday and I couldn't even see the fireworks from the hospital window. Happy thought? Nathan was born 3 months later, 8 lbs 11 oz, healthy and fine.

JUNE 2006
OR maybe my most serious illness was the time my heartbeat went really, really fast. Wolfe-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome for you medical people. I am NOT medical and I have no idea what the difference between a syndrome and a disease is. So, usually, I tell people I have a heart disease. Because, if I tell people I have a heart syndrome they want to know what a syndrome is. And I don't know and I'm too lazy to research it. I'm not sure why medical people call it WPW, because if your trying to save time? People, take a minute and COUNT the syllables. TYPING WPW, however, IS faster. A nephew and two of my kids also have WPW, it's hereditary. Andrew had an attack and spent a week in ICU at 2 weeks old. They didn't have a name for it then. I thought he was going to die. Going home without him was by far the hardest thing I had ever done in my life at that point. Heather had problems and was born 6 weeks early so she could be diagnosed and treated. Both VERY scary times, but I'm getting sidetracked. I didn't even know I had WPW, back then. I suspected, after awhile, because when your heart does weird things, you tend to notice. Usually, I can cough and get my heart rate back down. Something about the pressure in the chest when you cough. And yes - we own our very own stethoscope. That's kinda' fun, right? - if you don't ... you know ... analyze it too deeply. Rapid heartbeat through a stethoscope sounds kinda' like a cat purring, or popcorn popping. Have you ever tried to count the pops of popcorn popping? You're not going to get to a very high number. BUT, coughing wasn't working for me this time. So, Andrew, poor guy - only 18 at the time, had to take his mother to ER. While we were waiting for the receptionist to acknowledge that we were standing there in front of her little window - I start getting a little dizzy, hard to concentrate, going pale. (I know, I'm already pale, but, it looks a little different when I'm sick - or my blood is vibrating in-place instead of pumping along the veins like it should be.) But, my paperwork has my SS# and ... other personal stuff on it and I don't want to leave the paperwork sitting on the counter. So, I give it to Andrew and tell him to stand at the window, I'm gonna sit. The only available chair is kinda' far, and the look on Andrew's face says, "I'm about to panic." But, I NEED to sit or I'm gonna pass out. Eventually, the receptionist is done with her imaginary break, to this day I have no idea what she was doing. It seemed like she was just sitting there, not making eye contact. Of course, I was a little out of it, so we'll give her the benefit of the doubt (I'VE never been an ER nurse). She finally takes the papers from Andrew. She looks them over. Then looks at Andrew. Then back at the papers. "WHO has the rapid heartbeat?" she wants to know. Andrew just turns and points, I suspect he was a little beyond speech at this point. They want me to come over there. I have to walk. The receptionist wants me to put my hand through the little document window so she can count my heart rate from my wrist. My wrist doesn't really fit in the little document window and she can't count it, because it's too fast. I could've told her that, if I'd been thinking straight. But, I wasn't, it was all I could do to stand there with my hand in the window. She buzzes me through so she can use a cuff thingy (you know that's a VERY technical term when your spell checker doesn't recogize it). She doesn't even tell me what my heart rate is?! sheesh, I wanted to know if I beat Andrew's record of 327. I mean if you're gonna DO something, you might as well be the BEST at it. Right? However, I did get a room, you know, like RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND! Note to all: if you ever want to go to the head of the line in ER - rapid heartbeat is our little secret. So, to make this long story ... somewhat short(er). They had to stop my heart and then restart it. With medicine in an IV. VERY strange feeling. Kinda like that game you played when you were a kid where you cut off the circulation to your hand and then let it back in. Remember that? But, I survived and so did my son, poor guy. The worst part? I was supposed to go hiking with the Young Women the next morning and neither Andrew nor my mother would let me go. Happy thought? Andrew and Grandma had some serious bonding time through my mobile phone. To this day Andrew and Grandma are very close and he contacts her every time he thinks I'm not behaving. And she usually sides with him. Darn it.

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