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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)

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February 21, 2008
So what did you?... die or something? (Part 2)
Filed in: Current Affairs


So I realize that I'm seriously clogged up. They give me a few meds and send me home.

Refer me to a cardiologist. He can see me in a couple weeks.

What do I do when I'm not sure I'm going to be OK and I'm fitting in with the Doc's schedule?

I do what I know how to do. I ate nothing but raw green vegetables. That's it, rabbit food. Drank nothing but water. Slept. Mostly slept.

Within a week I start to feel better. Now 'better' means that I can walk to the bathroom and back to bed instead of crawl. My episode and the decline preceding it had weakened me beyond what I could imagine. I was continually amazed at how sick I got so quickly.

My right leg is perpetually numb. Kind of close to when an appendage 'goes to sleep', except this isn't quite that intense, feels a little more like 'heat', and is non-stop. Medically they call it neuropathy. Could be caused by anti-inflammatories (check, I've done a few of those), onset of Type II diabetes - we'll stick with the rabbit food thank you, or something related to my end of year episode. All the many, many choices...

Couple of weeks roll around. My key question is "Hey, does my thumper work right or not?" It's a strong enough question that I feel compelled to place myself in the hands of heroic western allopathic medicine.

Doc decides we need to do a stress test. We schedule that. Another couple of weeks. I do the same as I've been doing.

Here's the stress test that I'm scheduled for: Go to the hospital and check in for the test. Take a bottle of water, and a big hunk of cheese. Drink the water when you get there. Go to the testing room - under attending Doc supervision - get injected with some nuclear dye - run along on the treadmill with an EKG strapped on 'til they are satisfied. Go to a technician room, get strapped into a big chair gizmo that slowly rotates while you are immobilized and take 360 degrees worth of pictures of the ticker - about 1 degree at a time.

Come back to the waiting room. Eat hunk of cheese. Go do all that other stuff all over again.

Here's what actually happened: Go to the hospital and check in for the test. Drink that water down. After a bit, a technician appears and says "All of our treadmills are down. Sign this form - we are going to give you a chemical stress test." I read the form. Form says about 5% of the people have an adverse reaction to this chemical test - and the 'adverse reactions' on the form look pretty bad - things like heart attack, stroke, sudden collapse, that sort of thing. I express reluctance. Technician offers to reschedule the test but volunteers that the treadmills have been broken for some time and that I'll likely need to travel a significant distance and wait a few more weeks before getting a treadmill test. He pushes the form and a pen at me and says "Sign here." I resist. He pushes like an insurance salesman on crack. "We have to charge you $370 even if you don't do the test today, because we have the nuclear dye all ready for you." Eventually, because I do want to know what's going on with me, I fold. Like a bleating lamb I am.

We proceed to the testing room. There is indeed a treadmill in the corner, piled with the detritus of testing room papers. I guess it hasn't been used in a year.

In the center of the little testing room is a chair. Looks rather like the ones you see in the movies where the cyanide pills drop. Only thing missing are the view windows.

Technician straps me in. No, I'm not kidding. Legs: strapped. Torso: strapped. Arms: strapped. Technician works in an injection site (I'm an easy poke so no big deal). Then injects the cold nuclear dye out of a silver tube that looks like it was thieved off of the Starship Enterprise.

Technician rolls up a little machine next to the chair. Starts to explain adenosine and what's about to transpire. I interrupt to ask who the attending Doc is going to be. Technician says, there's no attending, I've done hundreds of these over the years and haven't lost anyone yet. I bleat.

So, adenosine is what they inject in people that are having a heart attack in the hospital. It opens EVERYTHING up in the cardiovascular system. Techman tells me his little machine (as he puts the tube into my injection site) is going to hit me with 10 CCs every 10 seconds - and we're going to do this for 10 minutes. Adenosine is immediately metabolized in the body, dearest Techman says, so there won't be any sort of build up or anything. Techman says "Some people feel a little weird during this procedure, so please let me know how you are doing." I bleat.

Techman turns on the machine. It sounds like a little pump - for a few seconds anyway. Then it sputters, coughs, and stops. Techman is perplexed. Techman looks machine over. Reboots it (do drug pumps reboot)? Beats on it a little. Says "Well that was a false start. Let's get this going before the dye runs out."

Techman starts up the pump again. All seems well for a few seconds.

WHAM! I'm pretty sure that a several hundred pound gorilla is standing on my neck and traps. The big arteries feeding the old noggin' are blowing up. I don't realize this, I'm just suddenly in the grip of the drug. And it's nasty. I can't speak, can't move. Pretty sure at this point that Techman is soon going for the alien probe.

My experience is, that with each hit, incredulously, it gets worse and worse. My eyes are bugging out of their sockets, my body is bloating all over - I can actually feel my hamstrings melt out underneath me. Techman is watching me and I can do nothing at all but exist in the grip.

He's got a blood pressure cuff on my arm. I'm swimming close to unconsciousness. He takes BP, records it. I'm aware that he does this several times. At one point he becomes alarmed, because, you know, that lower number should never get above 200.

Inexorably, it gets worse and worse. I'm just about to go out. Techman turns off the pump.

In about two minutes, I'm thinking I might possibly live after all.

Techman loosens my bindings. I feel an almost overwhelming desire to break him into pieces. Instead, I lean right into his face and say "You can put me down to extreme level of weirdness and no matter what you say or do I will NEVER do that again."

I discover that I can walk. I make it down to the tech room. They strap me in another chair. This one involves leaning forward onto an arm that folds around the front. "You must be very still."

I'm thinking for the next hour of picture taking time that I've got to go eat that hunk of cheese. And then Techman will be sent to fetch me again. I prepare my speech. No more bleatin'.

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People Pulling

I'm speechless ... for the moment.

Emcee: Hi M'lady. Kind of hard to get this all out - but good I think to tell. I'll have some more coming up. Promise.

Posted by: Diana at Feb 21, 2008 7:32:55 PM

Hang in there; I know what you're feeling like.

I had a mitral valve deteriorate the last couple of years and the decline is disheartening(!) I've been on drugs and taken the nuclear stress tests; so far I'm holding on but I know that I'll eventually have to have open-heart surgery (or if it goes on me I'll be gone in ten minutes...)

But going through the testing and waiting and worrying is the worst.

Hang in there, we're thinking about 'ya.

Emcee: Thank you for the kind thoughts Gerry - and right back to you - these things really do alter one's perspective don't they?

Posted by: Gerry at Feb 23, 2008 8:44:28 PM

Wow. That was painful to read. Amazingly horrible procedure.

Posted by: Candy Rant at Mar 9, 2008 11:24:49 PM

I cannot believe they did that! Cripes. That's really nasty

Posted by: gail at Mar 13, 2008 2:54:38 PM

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