|No, this isn't the same photo as yesterday.|
I wasn't entirely sure I trusted the emergency room doctor when I met him. I mean, this was no Doug Ross. Dr. V. was rumpled, and needed a shave, and I wasn't sure his level of urgency was the same as my own. (He did not once bark out the word "Stat!," which was both concerning and disappointing.)
But that doesn't mean he wasn't paying attention. You may have noticed a clue to the theme of today's post yesterday in the paragraph wherein I talked about giving my medical history over and over. If you noticed it, bravo, and I want you for my doctor because I certainly wasn't paying attention while I was saying it.
Dr. V. was.
He heard me mention that I'd had a superficial blood clot in my leg several years ago. It was so insignificant in the grand scheme of the day (BLOOD PRESSURE EMERGENCY) that I glossed over it, but after Dr. V. had let me know that my symptoms had won me an ambulance ride to the Big City for a heart cath, he came back to it.
"The ambulance can't be here immediately so I want you to have a CAT scan to make sure you don't have any clots in your lungs."
"And that," I thought to myself, "is why insurance costs are so high. Unnecessary and expensive medical procedures."
I didn't say it, of course, because as the senior medical staff in the room he also could have ordered the removal of my left pinkie and I probably would have agreed. So the lovely radiology technician wheeled me down to the coldest room south of Siberia, injected iodine into the crook of my elbow, and scanned my lungs. (Side note: If I were Queen of the World I would not promise tax breaks or more vacation time as the best things that could happen to my subjects. No, I would hand out those heated hospital blankets to everyone in the queendom. They are...I have no words for the wonderfulness that they are. I have mentioned often that they make the pains of childbirth worthwhile, and I will now amend that to include the pains of a heart attack.)
And speaking of pain, I had none. No sharp pain in my chest, no dull radiating pain into my jaw, no lower back pain because women experience heart attack pains differently than men do. No pain, except maybe (and the quiet, genteel doctor was thrilled to hear this description) "you know, that kind of pressure when your bra is too tight? Like you want to take a deep breath but it's kind of difficult?"
Husband was still keeping track of the blood pressure numbers while I gave him a list of people to call to cancel obligations and appointments. At one point he looked up at me: "I think when this is over we probably need to talk about your schedule." Point taken.
Finally the ambulance arrived and they strapped me onto the transport gurney. Just as we moved toward the door Dr. V. came hurrying back from radiology. He lowered his voice to let the ambulance attendants know, but I overheard the diagnosis.
"She has bilateral pulmonary embolisms."
And that's when I said "Well, CRAP."
If you have just been told you have bilateral pulmonary embolisms, please do not Google bilateral pulmonary embolisms because the information will discourage you from buying green bananas. I knew this because my father had pulmonary embolisms following his heart bypass, and my brother had pulmonary embolisms following a long airplane trip. I had Googled the term many times in the past, and it's horrifying.
So there I was, being loaded into the ambulance for a trip to the Big City, having just heard that while I had thought I was not having a good day I was actually having a really bad day, and my ruined pantyhose were in the wastebasket of the emergency room so my bare feet were uncomfortably stuck into my leather shoes, and the ambulance driver told me they weren't going to use lights or siren so really, what was the fun of an ambulance ride?
(To be continued.)