The Longest Day

This post covers 12 hours of my life that literally changed everything.  No joke!

It felt like this could be the last hours of my life.

the endThere was no movie flashing before my eyes, just a shitty slow moving 12 hours, where decisions were made for me and where my body and mind were put through hell. I was a spectator of my own demise.  I could not do anything other than just remain lying there and answer questions, and endure test after test.

If this is what purgatory is all about. I was in purgatory getting ready to confess my sins and depart this World.  Or at least so it seemed as I was going through the nine circles of Dante’s Hell.

Having survived what to me felt like the Black Plague a week earlier, I had a significant setback which I initially blamed on the bloody pneumonia.  And, it happened to occur on yet another Tuesday, where I felt a little light headed and short of breath.

It was after 8pm so all urgent care units had closed.  Instead,  my wife and I decided to visit the nearest ER.  I don’t really like to visit ER, doctors or hospitals, but I felt it was better to get this addressed and not try to push my health further.

The Viking genes in me were going slightly berserk, as they were adamant that they could overcome this invasion of ill-intended cells.

We got seen very quickly and the ER team was great.  They did all necessary checks and emptied my veins for what felt like a gallon of blood. They did an X-ray and even a CAT scan.

At the end of a grueling 4-hour session (at 1.30am), the ER doctor thought my heart looked a little larger than normal and encouraged me to stay the night so a cardiologist could look at it first thing in the morning.  Basically, my heart had grown as a result of the excessive work it had to go through, so he was rightfully concerned.

Despite the grim update, and the doctor telling us that we could visit a cardiologist at our local clinic the next day or even in a couple of days, we decided to head back home.  Hey, I was feeling better and even drove all the way home in my new RAM 1500.

We slept a few hours as we had to get up with the kids to get them ready for school.  After they were shipped off, we called the cardiologist and we were lucky to get an appointment later that morning.

Please note, I felt ok at this point!

I checked in at the front desk and sat down in the cardio waiting area.

While sitting there, I looked around and noticed I was surrounded by mainly older people. I should not be in a cardio clinic.  I’m too young to have heart issues.  My family does not have a history of cardio problems.

Yes, I was struggling a bit with what I thought were the pneumonia left-overs, but man was I wrong.

The nurse looked at me, then at my chest, then at me.  She calmly said “you are not staying here long.  This is serious and your heart is coming/beating out of your chest just by sitting calmly“.

A minute later the cardiologist came in and basically repeated the nurse’s prediction.  They were going to run a few tests, including an echocardiogram, and then ship me off to the local hospital – the hospital I had visited the evening before.  This time in an ambulance which they had called already.

At first, I was not taking it too seriously.  I felt ok.  Yes, my heart was running very fast, but a bit of antibiotics would fix it.  Then again, I’m not a cardiologist, and he clearly was worried.  He was actually amazed that I could walk and talk, while my heart was climbing to 150bmp (fast is not good when you are not doing anything!) and increasing.

It takes more to knock over a Viking and send him to Valhalla!

The lady who ran the echocardiogram stepped out midway through the procedure, to share some news with the doctor.  When she returned she wiped off the lubricant from my chest, and informed me that the ambulance people were waiting for me.

Suddenly two large medics arrived, placed me on the ambulance gurney and rolled me through the clinic to the ambulance.  Everything went so fast and while being driven through the clinic, tears of fear started rolling down my face, and the realization hit me like a shovel in the face.

My wife was left alone in the doctor’s office, probably fearing the worst (like me) and left to find her own way to the hospital while dealing with all the emotions going through her mind.  No doubt it was a traumatic experience for her.  The last image I saw of her, from the back of the ambulance, was her walking aimlessly across the car park to the truck.  I’m certain she was scared and confused.

The 20-minute journey to the hospital was a mental ride.  I stared out the back window while contemplating what had just happened.  Definitely not easy to comprehend, but I also knew I had to overcome this life challenge.  I was simply too young to depart and determined to show these Americans how we Vikings recover.

At the hospital, I was greeted by exceptional polite staff, and very thorough.  More blood was drawn, IV inserted, vitals taken and generally a full check.  The final step to help my heart was to drain my body for fluids – not blood, and other important fluids, but fluids that had been building up in my body due to the illness.  The cocktail was added to my IV, and the nurse calmly said that it would work quickly, meaning I would be feeling an urge to pee within 20 minutes … and she was spot on.

Now, the challenge here is to pee while lying on a bed, into a bottle, without spilling 🙂   I whipped El Scampi into the bottle and opened the flood gates.  Man, it felt so nice.  And after the 2nd or 3rd fluid evacuation, I could actually feel pressure subside from my chest area.

It was not a sign that I would go home as I was still not out of the danger zone. I was being admitted to Cardio ICU after ER completed their tests for further treatments, tests, and close monitoring.

Suddenly an angel walked down the ER – my wife arrived and I could see she had been crying.  We hugged tightly, cried a little and then looked at each other.

When they rolled me into the Cardio ICU unit, it was clear I was the youngest there by a few decades.  Not that I’m proud of that fact, but it strengthened my determination to get well and beat this challenge.

The first night scary.  All the new sounds.  Machines beeping and then my own mind running wild with all kind of scary scenarios that could happen – but didn’t.  I was well looked after.

My wake-up call was at 5am when a ninja stealthy nurse came in to take my blood.  Thankfully she found my vein at the first try and sucked a few veils.

The next few days would be full of challenges and positiveness.


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