Monday, July 30, 2007

More adventures in the Beth Israel ER

On Wednesday night serious heart palpitations sent me to the Beth Israel ER. I walked in, told the triage nurse what was wrong, she took my pulse and then all these people in scrubs swooped down on me and quickly wheeled me to a room (same room as I was in for my sprained wrist last month). Apparently, it's not every day that they see someone walk into the ER unassisted who looks totally normal but has a resting pulse rate of 190.

What comes next is what I remember among the confusion.

I was hooked up to a variety of machines while the Residents swarmed around trying to find a vein for an IV. I've got small veins and am tough to stick, even for a pro. At one point, each hand was being examined by a Resident, and I was informed that they were still looking for a spot for the IV.

Lyss: "So, you're both going to stick me at once until someone finds a vein?"
Residents: "Yes"
Lyss: "No. How about one of you tries and if that person can't get a vein then the other person gets to poke at me with needles?"

I give them credit for listening to me.

Eventually it's determined that they must give me a med called Adenosine to break my screwy heart rhythm since the usual breathing techniques have failed to stop it. This is a drug that stops your heart for a fraction of a second. "You might feel kind of nauseous, for like 10 seconds" says an ER staffer.

Nausea is not what follows as the drug is pushed into to the IV (that they finally were able to place) in my wrist. Burning. Like a fireball exploding and incinerating my body, which grows stiffer by the second. I am conscious, waiting for the peace of a blackout that never comes. Searing heat spreads and then is suddenly gone. I go limp. No nausea at all. Not an experience I'd care to repeat.

Bad news. The drug didn't lower my hear rate by much. I am at the mercy of these people in scrubs who are talking about giving me another, higher, dose. The drug is pushed again. Same searing hot pain, but it lasts longer this time. Great. This isn't stressing me out or anything.

By this time a crowd has gathered in my little curtained hellhole. I am not sure what's so interesting about me. It's a busy night in this urban ER. Don't they have a shooting or stabbing to attend to? I survey the scene. So many people in such a small space staring at me is only freaking me out more. "All these people in here is not helping my heart rate go down," I say (though 'yell' might be a more accurate term).

I can't remember too much after that, as they finally found that elusive third dose in a crash cart and gave it to me again. Pain. Fire. Stiffness. Third time's a charm. Sort of. The group has mostly dispersed. I am told that they will be giving me another drug, a beta blocker to get my heart rate down more.

They did let me go home eventually. Gave me a script for beta blockers. Told me to see my doctor the next day. I did.

However, I ended up back in the ER on Friday after passing out at work. No more Adenosine, thankfully. They admitted me, and I have to say that the Telemetry Unit was a much more positive, less scary experience. Well, for a hospital experience anyway.

The highlights (or lowlights) of my visits last week include:
*hairball guy - located right outside my curtained area was some guy making sounds I'd only heard cats make right before expelling a giant furball
*howler - interspersing my ordeal was someone screaming with the ferocity of a caged animal form somewhere else in the ER
*pukey - the guy on the stretcher next to me in triage (this was during Friday's visit after fainting at work) was handed a basin and told to vomit in there if he had to. He mad noises similar to hairball guy before they wheeled me away.
* I have yet to visit the BIDMC ER and have my next door neighbor be someone other than a patient with a bowel or bladder problem. I overheard entirely too much about the plumbing of my ER neighbors. There is no privacy here.

No comments: