Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Living Lady #275

Journal of a Living Lady #275

Nancy White Kelly

My last column was like a soap opera. It left readers hanging and I promised an update.

After my oncologist sent me rushing to a cardiologist, I had a thallium test and echocardiogram. Before I could sit down with the doctor for the follow up, I had more pain. My blood pressure shot again to 235/125. Buddy decided it was time to go to the emergency room.

We debated about going to a local hospital or on to a major heart hospital in Atlanta. Common sense said I should go to the closest hospital.

This was a holiday and our experience that day was atypical. At least I hope so. In the past our local emergency experiences have been quite satisfactory.

At the nearby hospital, it took 20 minutes for the lone, bubble-gum chewing clerk to give me any attention at all. This was after two pleading requests from Buddy. He made it plain that I was on the verge of a heart attack or stroke. While sitting in a school desk behind a canvas curtain, I overheard the ER doctor on duty talking to a patient about an infected bug bite. What happened to triage?

I have a sometimes annoying problem of looking better than I feel. It didn’t matter this time anyway. The apathetic young woman hardly looked at me while hooking up the blood pressure cuff.

“And what brings you to the emergency room today?” she asked robotically. I looked at Buddy and rolled my eyes. He rolled his back. With hardly a word, we are on our way to Saint Joseph’s in Atlanta.

Buddy drove well, considering. He put on the car’s emergency blinkers and made his way carefully through the traffic. We entered through the ambulance portal. Thankfully, we weren’t reprimanded. Instead we were greeted by concerned staff who immediately ushered me into a small room, did a cardiogram, and drew blood…all without my signing a single document. Soon I was guerneyed to intensive care.

ICU could have been my last stop before heaven, but again it wasn’t my time. Cats with nine lives have nothing on me. Word spread quickly. Several friends sent word that they were praying for us. After a heart catherization and related tests, I was eventually allowed to return home with a list of prescriptions and a new appointment. Before then, I will return to my cancer doctor for chemotherapy, the one who started this heart marathon. Won’t he be pleased that I heeded his advice? Maybe I should forward him the bills.

Only condemned criminals get choices of death, usually lethal injection or electric chair. While I have been challenged with serious cancer and heart disease, I throw my gauntlet down. Ride on, chariot. I plan on living forever. So far, so good.

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