So, after I was told to go directly to the hospital, I did what any reasonable person would do and called my mother; sobbing like a child. I was trying to tell her what was going on but was completely incoherent.
My boyfriend (at the time) drove me to the emergency room. He parked while I walked inside clutching my EKG printout. I explained to the nurse that I seemed to be having heart problems and showed her the paper.
I had no idea at the time what a healthy EKG looked like. But apparently it wasn’t on that paper. She immediately put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me back to a room. No waiting. No paperwork. No conversation.
I spent the next two hours with a heart monitor hooked to my chest. It beeped wildly every time my heart rate went over 180. Which was nearly constantly. I amused myself by pretending it was frantically trying to communicate with me but could only use incomprehensible beeps, like R2D2. Though it’s message likely would have been that I was dying.
While the nurses and IV techs tried to start an IV line. They stuck my right inner elbow, my left inner elbow, my right hand, my left hand. They had tried 15 times to hit a vein. Apparently I have thick skin and shitty veins (who knew?). With no luck.
Finally, an ex army nurse came in with a sonogram machine. She had an air of getting shit done about her. They rubbed some goo on my shoulder and pulled out a needle for a central venous catheter. The nurse wouldn’t let me see it despite my insistence that I could handle it.
But when that sucker sank into me, I could tell it was enormous. It’s circumference felt like a milkshake straw. Unfortunately, even with the lights out, she couldn’t find my vein. So she tried the other shoulder. And missed that vein. It hurt, a lot.
She looked at me with a serious expression. “We really need to get an IV in you to administer blood thinners. You could have a stroke without them. I’m going to try your neck, but if we can’t get it, it’s going to go in your groin.”
“That sounds unpleasant.”
“It is. And you won’t be able to walk around. And they get infected, like, all the time.”
I freaked out a little bit. She plunged the needle deep into the vein in my neck. Blood splashed out all over the hospital gown I was wearing. 17 times was the charm. I was IVed successfully.
And this thing was huge. It felt like she had broken through my jugular and had somehow lodged it into my stomach. It had three ports on it. When they removed it before I was released I was horrified to see how long it was. The tube was almost a foot long. It was practically inside my heart. I wish I still had that picture.
I was immediately pumped full of drugs. And good thing too. That first night was one of the longest and worst nights of my life.
I was having really bad heart palpitations. So bad that I couldn’t walk. I had to use my IV cart as a walker to get in and out of the bathroom. I was extremely nauseous and spent most of my night on the bathroom floor.
I had a massive stroke my first night in the hospital on the bathroom floor. The nurse came in and saw me lying there and freaked out, thinking I had fallen off the toilet. It would have been funny if I weren’t so nauseous. I was rushed to the ICU for the next five days. In the ICU I wasn’t allowed to get up to pee and had to go in a bed pan. That’s was the beginning of the end of my dignity.
The nurses also had to give me an injection of a blood thinner, Lovenox, in my stomach every morning and evening. Apparently, the thinner you are, the more it hurts. I was very thin back then. It was agony. It was the worst part about the whole experience. Not the loss of dignity and privacy, not going without a shower for a month, not the 17 times with a needle. Those shots were pure torture.
This all means that if I had listened to my doctor’s original diagnosis, that I had panic attacks, I would be dead right now. I would have died at home of a stroke that very night. I am alive because I acted like a total bitch. Let that be a lesson to you.
I have a tiny scar on my neck from the A-line. I wound up being in the hospital for 25 days and didn’t leave till I was transferred to another hospital and had my first heart surgery.
Also, I totally stole the blood stained hospital gown. They wouldn’t have wanted to keep it anyway. I never could get all my blood out.