Now where was I?…
(for background, see my previous post.)
Oh, yeah. On the operating table.
So the doctor slides the wires through the incision in my groin, up the arteries, and into my heart. She does a balloon angioplasty (the tech dude is confused over which size to use: Is it an 8 or a 10? Whatever.) And then the Doc installs a stent. (That’s basically a scaffolding that keeps the arteries open.)
In about 45 minutes, I’m done. I was awake for the whole thing (though the narcotic Fentanil… Mmmmm.) I saw everything on the plasma flat screen. Fascinating stuff.
They wheel me into my recovery room and tell me that I can’t get out of bed or move my leg for at least 6 hours because I could bleed out through the incision in my femoral artery.
Now, I know what your are thinking.
WARNING: Yes, you are again entering the Too Much Information Zone. But, you have all asked:
Didn’t you have to pee?
Skip this section if you must, but… Herewith is another Public Service mostly about pee:
Since I was about 3, I have done everything possible to NOT pee while lying flat on my back in bed. It is ingrained in my brain. And, for the most part, I have been successful in that. (Sorry for that one time, Honey. I was dreaming of rain…)
So, the nurse hangs a plastic bottle over the bed railing and tells me to “go to town.” Easier said than done.
By about 6:00 pm, I kinda sorta need to go. It’s been about 7 hours since the last time I went potty, and pressure begins to build.
Without getting too graphic, I position my personage in such a way that using a bottle is actually feasible. I’m not bragging, mind you. Statement of fact. (Yeah, bragging a little…)
Only, I couldn’t quite pull the trigger. 40-something years of not peeing in bed is hard to overcome in one night.
I watch the Olympics. Catch the Dodgers game. And flip on CNN. Finally, Anderson Cooper announces that Paul Ryan will be the Vice Presidential candidate with Mitt Romney. This pisses me off.
And, before I know it, the bottle is half full.
P.S. Note to Pee Bottle Designers: PLEASE round the edges. No one wants to encounter any sharp 90 degree angles down there. Believe me!
So, a couple hours after surgery, I still have this “pressure bandage” on my femoral artery that is stopping me from, you know, bleeding to death.
The nurses finally determine that my blood is “thick” enough to start clotting again. Vivienne (the attractive, young, Asian nurse) is charged with the task of removing the patch, and giving me a regular bandage. (The fact the Vivienne is young, attractive, and Asian is totally irrelevant to this story. But, I felt compelled to inform you. That’s how I roll.)
Here’s the REALLY SCARY part.
Vivienne comes into my room. She tells me that we’re going to have to “push” for 10 or 15 minutes. I have no idea what she means. I assume she is going to push saline into the IV in my arm.
No. I am wrong.
She whips back my hospital gown (Hello, Boys!), removes the pressure bandage, and literally begins Pushing on my incision with every ounce of her 95-pound body.
Um… Ow… Damn… Shit.
“Gotta stop the bleeding,” she says.
“Yes, please…” I retort.
It hurts for a couple of minutes. Then, something weird happens. I get really hot and begin sweating profusely. Then, I hear the alarms from the heart monitors start beeping loudly.
This is not good.
I look over at the display. My heart rate has dropped from 62 to about 38. My blood pressure has gone from 110 over 70, to 60 over 40. I don’t like these numbers.
Vivienne says, “You’re vaso-vagal. You’re crashing.”
Now, I know that, as a dude, any word with that many V’s and G’s cannot be good. The word “crashing” also causes some concern.
Do you remember George Bush the Second? He was eating a pretzel and passed out. It was in all the newspapers (yeah, a dead medium, I know.) He hit a nerve with the pretzel. That’s the Vagal nerve that runs from top to bottom in your body. It’s basically the 911 of the nervous system. Screw with it, and it will shut your ass down.
Vivienne screwed with it. My ass is shutting down.
Viv keeps telling me to breathe. She asks if I’m getting tunnel vision or feeling dizzy. My blood oxygen level drops to dangerous lows.
She asks me how I feel: I’m confused. All of the above. Kinda sleepy, too.
Then, Viv begins yelling at the top of her lungs for the other nurse on-call:
Now, (working in LA) I have seen enough episodes of ER and Chicago Hope and Grey’s Anatomy (and Scrubs, for that matter) to know that when a nurse is YELLING for help, things usually don’t end well for the patient. Holy Shit.
Real life: My nurse is yelling. Fucking YELLING! Top of her lungs:
I’m scared to death. Almost literally.
I try to keep my cool. But, seriously? Do I die here? Like this? In a hospital bed with a pretty Asian girl pushing on my balls? Not heroically? No… Not heroically.
Vivienne is practically doing a headstand on my crotch to prevent me from bleeding out. I’m thinking that whether or not I die in the next five minutes depends on the tiny hands of my attractive Asian nurse. (Again, attractive and Asian are not relevant. But, this is MY story.) She did have tiny hands, by the way.
Abbie shows up. She opens my IV fully, and starts squeezing the bag. They are trying to add fluids to my system so my blood pressure will increase. Gradually, my BP increases, as does my heart rate. I begin to feel more normal.
I don’t know how close I came to dying. But, close enough. Shit.
Abbie tells me that Vivienne is known as the Groin Queen. Viv is not thrilled with the title. “Don’t call me that, please.” But, she’s been pushing on my groin with everything she’s got for over a half hour. Her fingers are numb. She’s as exhausted as I am bruised. Did I mention the bruises: Ow. That shit hurts.
They wrap me in a regular bandage. I’m fine.
Vivienne, wherever you are: Wear the Groin Queen crown with pride. You saved my life.
But, given the amount of fluids they put in my body, I’ll keep filling up the pee bottle. All night long… Nurses are great!
I get discharged the next morning, with a newly found respect for the Olympic bikini-waxed swimmers and divers.
So, after that, everything pretty much went according to plan, The incision in my groin clots up (by the way, none of the countless women who surveyed my groin complained. I’m just sayin’…), my blood pressure comes up to normal, as does my heart rate. I’m feeling pretty good.
They send me home with a bag full of meds. I’m not supposed to do any heavy lifting for at least a month. Unfortunately, that means lots will fall on my wonderful and already-over-extended wife Lynn. I’ll try to not feel guilty on garbage day.
Loving my wife (it’s so much harder for her than me. Totally.)