Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hawaii Hospital -- Final Chapter

After another sleepless hospital night, and no breakfast or coffee, I'm impatient to get this last test over with and head for home.  I'm craving a hot bath, a home-cooked meal, and the comfort of my own feather pillow.

Mr. C has been amazing -- shuttling back & forth from our home at Beach Villas (in Ko Olina) to the hospital, sitting for hours in an uncomfortable folding chair in my room; sometimes snuggling in with me in my hospital bed, when we thought we could get by with it.   Luckily, this hospital is just a hop & a skip from our place, instead of downtown Honolulu -- which we avoid like the plague, due to the horrendous traffic stain on a very inadequate infrastructure.  Don't think they ever expected Honolulu to be the huge city it is today.

The staff at Queens Medical here in Ewa Beach have been fantastic.  It's been interesting to see the "Aloha" spirit here in full bloom.  From the Doctors to the Nursing staff to the Technicians to the Housekeeping staff, all are warm and genuinely caring, doing everything they can to create a pleasant environment and to make you as comfortable as possible as a patient.  I don't know what I was expecting -- something more business-like and clinical, I guess.  But hey, we ARE in Hawaii, after all.  

The last test of the lot is some kind of cardiac "stress test".  But because they don't quite know what's going on with my little ticker yet, they don't trust me to do the treadmill thing.  Instead, they will simulate high demand on the heart muscle by stimulating it chemically.  This sounds exciting (meaning OMG -- WHAT?!?)  I can hardly wait....(meaning Holy crap, how did this happen?!?)

Mr. C says that I'm cheating by doing it chemically.    Of course when he did his on the treadmill, he won.  We're not sure what the contest was, but he definitely won.

They do this test in 3 phases.  The first injection, which is radioactive saline, if I recall correctly (radioactive WHAT?!?), is followed by taking a set of "pictures", before they stress the heart.  I guess it's a preliminary to make sure the heart can take what's coming next.  I must've "passed" this test, 'cause now I'm on to Phase II -- where they inject another chemical to expand all the blood vessels while you sit upright on the side of the bed and kick your feet to simulate activity.  Mr. C is right -- I'm definitely cheating.  The "whoosh" that you feel when all this hits the heart, though, is -- hard to describe -- but it feels really super-strange.  As in awful.  Sickening, overwhelming, frightening, close to panicking.  I guess it would be "fight or flight" to the extreme. I was not a fan.

Then -- hallelujah!  The "antidote" to this chemical is -- who knew?! -- caffeine!!  It's coffee or tea; I get Starbucks blend, and I'm slurping it down and asking for a second!  It's not doing the trick fast enough, though, so they give me yet another dose of something to counter the first (or was it the second) dose and get things back under control.  Quite the chemical cocktail I've been served today, and all before breakfast.  I feel positively........yucky.   

But now I get some crackers and jello.  When's the last time I had jello???  Can't even remember.  But I slurp that down, too, artificial colors and sugars and all.  When in Rome.....

Gosh I'd like to be back in Rome, come to think of it.  One thing that's helping me push through all this is the image of our tickets to Greece, clenched in my little fist along with my passport.  Departure date is April 29th.  I'm determined to be on that plane!

One last set of pix of the ole' pump (by now the tech's & are talking travel destinations) and I'm back to my room for a breakfast of -- egg whites, turkey bacon, and fresh fruit.  Ah, this is good livin'!  

I won't bore you with the minutia of the rest of my day -- but we are not released to go home (to Ko Olina) until all the consults are done; all the experts -- Doctor, Cardiologist, and Neurologist all have to discuss what all the test results are showing.  So it's 5PM before we get clearance for check-out.  Mr. C has put the gals at the 4th floor desk on red-alert:  The lady in 412 is trying to escape without paying her bill first!    I think they took him seriously.......

So for the short term, I am to wear a heart monitor for at least 2 weeks, then get the results reviewed, before the Cardio gal will release me to fly home.  Mr. C reminds me, there's no emergency landing point between here & the mainland for a medical emergency.  Best to stay put for the moment.

I will need an angiogram and perhaps a stint; but we're not sure if we'll stay here on-island for that, or travel back to the Mainland.

For now, I'm sitting on the lanai and watching the ocean, listening to the calming, healing sounds of the surf, and feeling the warm  tropical breezes surround me.  

We are surrounded by wonderful friends in Hawaii who are offering everything from dinner (delivered); to a place to stay ('cause we're homeless as of today, as our Villa is already rented out); to taking the pressure off me with Beach Villas Board issues (as I am currently their President); to flowers and chicken soup and........ 

Life is good.  

One of our close friends here passed on some wisdom from HIS Cardiologist -- "You know what most people's first sign of a heart attack is?  It's when they wake up dead!"

So I'm fortunate to have this little tap on the shoulder, a gentle wake-up call that there's something going on that needs to be addressed.  

We'll get through it, and I'll be back in the saddle very soon.  After all, there are elephants to ride, mountains to climb, oceans to swim in, and new foods and new friends to fall in love with.  And I simply refuse to let something like this get in the way of all that. 

End of story.

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