Monday, July 30, 2007

What is Telemetry?

Telemetry - the unit of a hospital where patients' vital signs and heart rates are closely measured

Friday's fainting spell sent me back to the Beth Israel Deaconess ER. They admitted me to the Telemetry/Cardiac Unit. Here's what was running through my mind as they wheel me in - I'm 28. Am I seriously being admitted to the Cardiac Unit? Isn't that mainly for old people? This is really scary.

For all I might bitch about in regard to the ER, this place was like a whole different hospital. Even though it was a weekend I did not feel like I got the B Team. The doctors, nurses and aides were wonderful, knowledgeable, compassionate, and professional. It was very scary for me to be there, but they did their best to make me feel as normal as possible while still hooked up to various machines.

Highlights (I'm trying to see the brighter side of things)
  • They figured out what was wrong with me. On a Saturday.
  • Getting to see an ElectroPhysiologist. Some hospitals make you wait until a weekday to see a specialist.
  • Discussing world politics with one of my CNA's. She's from Nigeria. It was enlightening. Seriously.
  • Being reassured by a nurse that I'm not the only person under the age of 50 to have been admitted there in the past decade. She said it's not uncommon for younger people to have cardiac issues.
  • Unhealthy hospital food. I made it my mission to order the least healthy options available, but to always add a green salad or fresh fruit cup.Since I wasn't on a cardiac diet I had free range to order whatever I wanted. My meals included such nutritious options like chicken fingers, a side order of fries, chocolate cake, pancakes (with real syrup and real butter), grilled cheese.
They let me go home until my procedure on Wednesday. Yay! I'm not a prisoner of the hospital any longer. Not to mention that I would've gotten fat eating so many unhealthy meals.

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.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Urban Pets: Man vs. Mouse

Saturday, July 21, 2007. Not your typical night in the Slacker household.

Roommate2.0* has been sealing off holes, openings of any kind really, in the kitchen, as we lose battle after battle in the war against the mouse. The thing is making us feel like we're in a f----ing cartoon. We patch an entry point, it finds another. We set out trap after trap. It prances right over the them. Arrogant little bastard.

Roommate2.0 thought he'd finally isolated all points of access, when we began to hear noises coming from... the oven. As I type, Roommate2.0 is dismantling the top of the stove, looking for access points beneath the range cover. See, when he turned on the oven, the mouse poked its nose out of an area next to one of the burners, taunting him. It's as if the thing was daring him to turn the gas burners on.

I think it has just become his archenemy.

As grossed out as I am by the thought of Roommate2.0 playing rodent executioner with the weapon of choice being one of our appliances, I am more grossed out seeing that disease-bearing critter in my kitchen. Not basement, not garage. Kitchen. I'm tired of obsessively cleaning and bleaching the counter because the mouse might have scampered across it while we were at work, dragging germs and who knows what else across the surface where we prepare sustenance for our tired, stressed out selves every night.

I'm sure what I've typed here will offend some people. I can live with that. I invite them to come over and catch the darn thing and bring it home to live in their kitchen.

*previous Roommate (Roommate1.0?) bought a condo in Lynn

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Snapshots of Somerville

Davis Square
Somerville, MA
July 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Adventures south of the border

Rush hour charity collectors of Boston

Who are these mysterious people in the neon shirts causing traffic slowdowns at rush hour? I can't tell if they are collecting for a legit cause or just really sophisticated panhandlers.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Accident prone

Sprained wrist = less blogging, typing

Only a 3-hour visit to the Beth Israel ER this time. Better experience than my last trip there.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Boston Harborfest 2007

July 1, 2007

How cheap is the MBTA?

Really cheap, according to one Orange Line rider in Haymarket.

MBTA - Haymarket - Orange Line, Inbound