Sunday, May 7, 2006

If I Only Had A Heart, Part 1: E.R. Shopping

First, everything's okay. So now you know how the story ends, here's the story. Or part 1 anyway.

Friday night, after I picked the Wife up from work, we started home. About five miles or so from home, my left arm started feeling funny. Tingling. Numb.

Now, I'm in pretty decent health, generally. I'm overweight a little (is 30 pounds "a little" for someone 6'2"?), but generally not too bad for someone my age.

I have two living parents and one living grandparent. The three dead grandparents all had heart problems. The living one ... my mother's mother, who's 92 ... has no heart problems. So, three out of four grandparents with heart problems.

That kind of thing is in the back of my mind, particularly when my left arm suddenly gets numb/tingly. Now, without a medical background, and not having done any research into that, I don't know if that means heart problems. I now assume not.

Still, it bothered me for about five minutes, then I got a little light-headed. And my face felt sort of numbly (numb/tingly) too. Well, not the whole face. But about a Phantom of the Opera mask-sized area on the left side.

That was when I pulled over and asked the Wife to drive. To the hospital.

Now, I don't know if it was payback time, but she decided to take me to the same hospital she went to when she had the cock-fight.

The Medical Center is what you thing of when you think of hospital waiting room hell. And that's where she drove.

Now, I'm not sure if it's the thought of what she could pay off with four times yearly salary, but she took me to that same hospital.

So, when she drove right past the emergency room entrance, I'm thinking, this is going to be one of those nights.

She let me out at the main entrance, and I walked in and asked how to get to the E.R. The kind ladies gave me directions while the Wife parked the car.

I made my way down the sidewalk to the E.R. and walked in. The lady at the window was telling everyone that got to the front of the line "It'll be a long wait" before they even said what was wrong. I guess if they were able to stand and weren't bleeding on her, they got the "long wait" speech and told to fill out the form.

When it was my turn, I did just that. Then sat down to wait.

The Wife came in from parking on the far side of the parking lot and sat down. And we waited.

And waited.

Across from us was a young lady who appeared to be having stomach trouble. She didn't eat the Chic-Fil-A nuggets the fellow with her offered her. And she was holding either a see-through barf bag, or the largest condom I have ever seen.

Over in the far corner was a man who brought a cooler. I don't know if it was his lunch, or a spare kidney, or what.

To our left was an older fellow in a wheelchair who was getting wheelchair driving lessons from a similarly-aged woman. But he did have someone to wheel him outside for a cigarette. I wonder what he was in the E.R. for. I'm assuming not a severe cough.

Every so often, someone from the back would come out and call a name ... and no one would respond. We wondered if they ought to check the morgue.

We sat there while others came in, got the speech from the non-employees behind the counter, and they coutinued to line the waiting room.

After about an hour, I told the wife that if waiting all that time was okay, then I probably didn't have an emergency. They heard my symptoms and didn't move me to the front, so I must have been in no worse shape than anyone else.

So, if waiting was okay, I wasn't having a heart attack. Or, if I was, and it took me falling over to get seen, it'd probably be too late anyway, so I figured it was a waste of time being there.

The wife asked about going to St. Francis Hospital. Which sounded like a good idea to me.

I mean, if Rush Limbaugh can doctor shop, I can E.R. shop.

So, we left and went to the other hospital. I mean, my arm and face were still numbly and all. So we went to St. Francis.

That was a much better experience overall. More about that tomorrow.


  1. I hope you're okay. I've had that happen several times and after going to the ER twice in an ambulance--very expensive ride--I started taking an aspirin and laying down for awhile. The ER people, drs, never knew what was wrong., but knew how to bill me!

  2. Good Lord! Are you feeling better?

  3. I'm glad to hear that you're all right. The exact thing happened to my left arm a few years back. After an overnight stay at the hospital and a battery of tests (for a total of five grand), they told me it was "non-specific" and probably a pinched nerve.

    I'm glad my heart was all right, because that bill probably would have killed me otherwise.

  4. Yep - Hospital shop to your heart's content! Glad to hear your St. Francis experience is better than this mess. Did you ever figure out if it was a huge condem or a see-thru "barf bag?" Guess you survived - you made it to a long post! Just hope it's nothing serious and over by now or really soon! Be well Basil. ;-) This post would make a good "sitcom."

  5. Maybe you should have gone to the hometown. They see people pretty quickly. I am relieved you are well enough to make light of it now.
    But I can hardly wait for part 2.

  6. All: Yes, I'm feeling better. And felt better before we left Friday night.

    Sis: Between the hospital in the hometown and the first one I went to in Columbus, yes, I'd have been seen sooner back at the old hometown. Thankfully, the second hospital was a better experience.

  7. Oh, my...I hope you are feeling much better & that it wasn't too serious. Kinda scary, I'm sure.

  8. Scary as heck! Glad things are OK, basil. Arrrgh, ERs.

  9. Ok being serious here, were your feet sweaty at any point?

    Asking because I get the same symptoms (except with sweaty feet, ya gross I know) and it is due to low blood pressure.

    I usually gulp down a gatorade and within 20-30 minutes everything is back to normal.

    Or could be pinched nerve.

  10. LOW blood pressure? Hmmm. I'm usually 100/65 or somewhere in that range.

    That would be just like me ... the whole family suffers heart trouble and high blood pressure ... then I come along and get low blood pressure.

    "Just to be different," I can hear it now.

  11. I am usually at 105/60 and have dropped down to 95/60 when an "episode" hits.

    There is nothing that specially triggers and "episode" either. Could be something to check into.

  12. It could also have been what they like to call a "mini stroke" which is what happened to my dad last year. His arm and part of his face felt numb. Spent 2 days in the hospital to say the same thing: "not specific, probably a mini stroke." and couldn't say anything else.

    of course the damn doctors freaked me out because i got called to the hospital and the REFUSED to tell me ANYTHING until my mother arrived, they wouldn't even tell me if he was alive or dead or ok or not! Idiots.

    It was only after waiting 20 minutes they finally told me he was ok. Geez, they could have just said that in the beginning.


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