Episode 475, or "In Hospital"

Q: What has two thumbs and no heart attack?

What has two thumbs and no heart attack? This guy!
photo by Val
A: This guy!

The night of the 7th, Saturday, after our day of moving our larger objects...

photo by Val

...I awoke with chest pain. I got up for a little while and then eventually fell back asleep. I thought I had pulled something, so on Sunday I went and bought a big bottle of ibuprofin and we went to see the New Britain Rock Cats, an AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.

the park

Ladies and Gents, the Rock Cats ?Walrus?

Laura got the autograph of the Rock Cat's ?Walrus?, and some of us ate kielbasa and had some beer. Blue Moon beer, even.

dogs at the park

It was hot, and Val and I were achy, but we had a good time. Sunday night I woke up again with chest pain, and took the ibuprofin and waited to go back to sleep. I woke up Monday morning groggy, but pain free and went to work.

By about lunchtime, there was a slight feeling of pressure in my chest, and on top of that the AC wasn't keeping up with the weather, so I was feeling overheated. I decided to leave early, and on the way home I decided to call Val and tell her I was going straight to the Middlesex Hospital ER. She left work and met me there. There I mentioned "chest pain" and someone actually used the term "STAT!" and they set to work on me. I was asked about the pain scale (1-10), the frequency, history, and while this was happening, I had an EKG, blood was drawn for the lab, and I was fitted with a few I.V.s.

I.V. #1I.V. #2I.V. #3

Three, to be exact. One for fluids going in, one for meds, and one for fun! The EKG was irregular, and the ER doc called upstairs for a cardiac consultation. The cardiologist said I should go to Hartford Hospital's Cardiac Care for an angiogram. Then the blood work came back with elevated enzyme levels, and that sealed the deal. I was prepped for ambulance transport, and sent to Hartford. No lights and sirens, but everything was happening fairly quickly.

Up at Hartford, I was wheeled right into the cardiac catheterization room and they explained the goings on of the room while they prepped me for my angiogram. The results looked good (no blockages, hooray!), and I was sent upstairs (10th floor!) to cardiac ICU for recovery and observation.

wired for sound

ET finger

Upstairs I received a new-fangled heart monitor, and a cool ET finger pulse monitor, and had to keep my angio-leg still for 6 hours or so. There were no blockages, so there was no heart attack, so there was some question as to what was going on. I met my third or fourth cardiologist of the day, and he explained that there was something wrong with my heart, but at least it wasn't a heart attack. They were keeping me at least overnight, probably longer, and trying to figure it out. Relief with a side of anxiety, order up!

Val was able to find me eventually, and hung out with me throughout the meds and the blood draws and the updates. There was free cable TV, and I watched some History Channel, but I did also see a lot of this.

The view

Val went home, and I rested between nurse and doctor visits. I asked Val to leave my camera with me, and did manage this ICU self-portrait.


The next day I was released from the ICU to the intermediate cardiac care, still on the 10th floor. I was removed from my constant fluid I.V. because they decided I was maybe suffering from pericarditis, an infection/inflammation of the heart lining, and large amounts of fluids were not doing me any favors. I was also freed from my constant ET finger monitor and my chest wiring was greatly reduced and hooked up to a wireless unit that broadcast my status to the nurses station. The view wasn't bad either.


Hey, wait a minute, what's that down there?


...on the street?

Sneaky Ray Dog

...it's a hot dog truck!

Ray Dog

Right there in view of the cardiac unit! Get that weasel outta here! Unfair!

Seriously, though, the food was kinda ok. Bland, but ok. Except for this treat.

Kool-Aid™ Jell-o®

It wasn't Jell-o® brand, but it really did taste like Kool-Aid™. And it really was dinner served at 5pm. Oh, and there was an apple crisp that was pretty good, too.

5pm dinner time

The food was blah, but the company was fantastic. Ethan visited me in the ICU, and it turns out he had gone through the same kind of thing FIFTEEN YEARS AGO THIS VERY WEEK! Rebecca stopped by after I had been transfered to intermediate and brought treats and travel Scrabble®. Val was able to visit every day, for most of the day, and she brought me books, and my laptop, and we played games. Games like War and travel Scrabble®. Games like travel Scrabble® where I got 60 points for one word. Guess which one.

Guess which word was worth 60 points.

This particular travel Scrabble® lets you "pause" the game and fold it up for later play. Or to remember how one time, when you were playing travel Scrabble® in the hospital, you got 60 points for one word.

Travel Scrabble

Val held her own, and the final score was very close, despite my early lead.

My constant companion

So Val was there to be concerned, play games, watch me nap, and have hospital adventures. She visited the cafeteria a few times, and on her way to and fro noticed some good signs.

They've gotta go somewhere, right?

Women, then men, then fireballs.


We even walked the halls together a few times. By Wednesday they were encouraging me to get up and move around, with promises of being discharged "maybe tomorrow". My slight fever had broken, and I had had a few chest pain episodes where I was given nitroglycerin and morphine, among other things. They were figuring out what my "regular" meds should be, and waiting to look at my echocardiogram and my latest EKGs. I was 5 or 6 cardiologists deep at this point, and they were pretty sure of what they were looking at.


Or maybe Myocarditis.

Both are irritations of the heart that cause swelling, chest pain, irregular EKGs and elevated enzyme levels. Pericarditis is with the lining around the heart, while myocarditis is part of the heart muscle itself. Either way the cause is not really traceable, and not treatable with antibiotics. Don't get me wrong, everyone at both hospitals and the ambulance in-between were top-notch. The relief/anxiety mix quickly turns to frustration when they tell you they pretty much know and you pretty much just have to ride it out. I think by the very end they settled on pericarditis.


Other "fun" things...

"I don't wanna look like a freak, gimme the mumu."

"I don't wanna look like a freak. Gimme the mumu."


I have no goals.


I do have socks.

Would you like that to go?

I have ClingWrap. Why do I have ClingWrap?

Hartford from the 10th floor

Thursday I awoke from my best rest yet to a beautiful summer day outside my window. With it came the cardiologist's promise of being discharged sometime after breakfast I talked to Val and she came to the hospital around 10am, when visiting hours started and we waited. The nurse kept saying that the paperwork was getting done and we were just waiting on the sign-off from the cardiologist. I lapped the unit a few times and then lunch was being served. After lunch, Val went back to the nurse and got things done so the papers were signed, my prescription was written, and I was wheeled down to the exit in a wheelchair, standard procedure. Val brought the car around and we headed home, where these were waiting for me.


Complete with challenging "stacks" on the back of the box.

how to stack

I promptly set to my prescribed "restive activity" and started stacking.


"And stacks of robots sing thee to thy rest..."

The cats gathered 'round when I came home, and seemed ok, if not happy, to see me.


I did have one more episode of chest pain on Thursday night, but since that abated (and then I slept for 12 hours...) I have been chest pain free. I feel better every day, and I even went to work yesterday, Val transporting me to and fro. I have a cardiologist follow-up Friday morning, and hopefully I can just continue my meds and things will continue to feel ever more normal.

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