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Oh, Yeah...and I Had a Heart Attack

John W. Pinkerton

oldjwpinkerton@gmail.com


On my last day in ICU in Houston, the nurses were desperately attempting to coax a urine contribution from me.  While standing with the assistance of a nurse and an aide with a urinal in one of my hands, the nurse decides that this is the moment to perform a non sequitur by inserting an IV in the wrist of the other hand.    Immediately, my new wound decides to squirt blood on nursie; while applying a lot of pressure to the offending wound, she commented, “This has never happened to me before,” (Me neither, nursie, me neither).  Feeling a “little” sorry for her unique experience,   I commented to her that like the little Dutch boy, she was putting her finger in the dike.  As soon as I got the last word of the sentence out, I realized that the nurse was startled.  I started laughing and asked her if she knew what a d-i-k-e was.  Not a clue, but apparently she did know the definition of "dyke."  And apparently, she had never heard the story of the little Dutch boy and the dike.  When she realized my definition of dike, we both laughed wildly.  None of this activity encouraged pee from my reluctant member.


We'll return for the full “pee” story later.


One afternoon while alone in our living room, I had an “incident”---I gasped for air for an hour.  By the time Linda returned home from a local meeting, all was well…kinda;  other than for obvious reasons, I didn't move from my easy chair for three days.  On the third day, my nephew, Josh, an ex-army medic, stopped in for a visit and after viewing what must have been a sad sight to him, strongly suggested that we visit an emergency room.  Frankly, I didn't feel up to it.  Boy, was I right. 


However, once there, I was fine.  I kept myself amused by talking to the nurses.  They did a couple of tests including a CAT Scan.  Then the doctor interrupted our frivolity with the rude announcement that I had had a heart attack;  I did not react well.  I painted the walls of the emergency room a bright shade of expletives.  My nephew escorted the doctor from the room and explained to me in plain Irish that I had had a heart attack.  I told him I needed a cigarette.  He reminded me that I couldn't smoke in the hospital to which I responded, “It seems a little unreasonable to tell a man with one breath that he's had a heart attack and with the next breath that he cannot have a cigarette.  “I had my cigarette outside the hospital---and…it was wonderful.


I guess calling the preacher a bitch is not PC.  Oh well, I did it.  All hospitals have preachers trolling the hallways looking to save another soul or some such.  Of course one showed up in my room.  Nice fellow.  We got along famously---a lot of laughs.  In the course of our visit, Linda chastised me for crossing my ankles while sitting in a chair.  I, of course, uncrossed  them.  (By the way, it's my firm belief that crossing one's legs ever does damage to one's body is a myth probably started by some senior doctor  in ancient times on a slow day.)  In the course of sharing stories and laughter with the good preacher, I forgot and crossed my legs again to which the preacher reacted by pointing at my ankles.  Immediately I responded, “Bitch.”  Now, you would think he would be offended, but, no, I thought he might pee on himself from laughing.  That was not our last visit.


This hospital was a couple weeks short of being qualified to perform my surgery and I had to wait for a bed to open a hundred miles away; we were star crossed from day one.


While we waited, I developed worse bed sores (These actually started at home.), my breathing became more labored, my shoulder, because of an old issue, started hurting again (a 9), and, worst of all, I developed panic attacks.  Without going into detail, let's just say they were horrible and new to me.  One more thing---I was served some of the worst “food” ever devised by man.


On about the seventh day in this hospital, I realized that I couldn't last much longer without my promised operation.  I told Linda and she told the doctors,  “Surely in the state of Texas there is another doctor that can perform the operation.”


That same day, they loaded me and my various pains and bed sores and my panic attacks in an ambulance and dropped me off in Houston at St. Luke's ICU.  On the eleventh day, they said I could move on to a regular room, but first they had to punish me.


Back to the pee story:  My nurse on that final day, insisted that she must insert a catheter to empty my bladder before I left her company.  Now, we had done the catheter thing on a couple of occasions before: to say the least, I was not a fan.  At that point, I drew a line in the hospital sand and told nursie, “Nope, we're not doing that.  You're going to let me sleep for a couple of hours; I'll wake up and pee.”  She didn't like my plan much, but she agreed, and that's exactly what happened. 


After peeing profusely, I called for my nurse, presented her with the generously filled urinal, and declared, “The Queen has peed.  Go forth and tell the kingdom, 'All is well.'”


They unhooked me from multiple machines, loaded my bed with stuff they felt was necessary to depart ICU for another floor and another room and wheeled me out of the ICU and up an elevator to a floor specializing in heart patients.  Although I left behind a lot of wires and tubes, I did not leave behind my shoulder which attacked me on a daily basis and bed sores and my panic attacks.  By the way, I added one more insult to my body two days before my return home; my hand slipped on the arm of a chair and caused my left set of ribs to hurt almost as much as my shoulder.  I didn't share this new information with anyone: I desperately wanted out of the hospital.


A couple of days before departing ICU, they wanted me to walk: I really didn't believe I could do it, but I did.  The nurses and aides generously cheered me on.


Once on the heart floor, they wanted me to walk more.  I did, with assistance, walk twice, but, believe me, it was a chore.  The walking wasn't the problem, it was the breathing.


In spite of my problems, I badgered my doctors to allow me to go home.  At first they wanted me to enter a rehab center.  “No!  Home! I want to drink my coffee on my own front porch.”


One of my doctors, a handsome Pakistani woman, (Most of my doctors were Pakistani, who, thank God, have a sense of humor.) was discussing the possibility of my going directly home from the hospital when she mentioned that the doctors considered me to be “spunky.”  I responded to her comment by reminding her of a scene from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show in which her boss, Ed Asner,  comments to Mary that she was spunky.  Of course she took it as a compliment until Ed added, “I don't like spunky.”  I told the doctor that I agree with Ed.


Anyway, on a Saturday afternoon, my nephew, Josh, came to pick us up and pour me in his fancy Jeep and take us home.  This may have been the best day of my life.


It might have been the best day for Linda also.  She was by my side twenty-four hours a day for two weeks in Houston.


We're home now.  I'm trying to get better; everyone says it will take time; we'll see.


Oh yeah, while in Houston, I had a heart valve replaced by a bunch of Pakistani doctors.  I am now part bovine and have developed an appreciation for the Pakistani's sense of humo---I don’t think the two are related.

enough


Doc and I reenact Weekend at Bernie’s.