I Was Thinking About Something Else

That pretty much sums up my life nowadays. I will be doing something, walking into a room or driving, and I will go askew. Someone will inevitably ask at that same moment, "What are you doing?". Which will confuse me and I can only respond, "Yeah, well...I was thinking about something else".

(formerly A Connecticut Yankee)

Location: Connecticut, United States

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Saga of Day 19

The Day I Got To Run With The Gods

A short while back I determined that I really didn’t want to die a big fat guy. To that end I changed, I like to think fairly drastically, everything I did, ate, etc. I started walking/running (mostly walking) six miles a day. While I was stationed on a remote assignment in Korea about 15 years ago I had done this, run six miles a day, sometimes twice, so the concept was not foreign to me. These days I mostly walk out the three miles, then run back (usually just the downhill parts) the second half.
Tuesday was Day 19, and by this point I felt a fair amount of stamina. Sadly, I was later to be spanked very soundly for being very wrong.
That day started out short on sleep (3-4 hours) and many things to do. I had to drop my daughter off at her day camp, then I had a morning meeting that lasted about an hour and a half. Between these two events I downed a major amount of black coffee (the staff of life) with no breakfast or any water (one big change was now I only drink black coffee, water, and wine).after my meeting I determined that I had enough time to squeeze in a six mile run before picking up my daughter (at 3) and I did so hitting the pavement at 12:30pm. So began Day 19 of my six mile runs.
Tuesday was a beautiful day, I believe around 75-80 degrees, I had my tunes, and I felt good. It also meant that I would reach the 90 mile marker at that point and I would be quite pleased. So I ran out the first half and upon reaching mid point I still felt good, no, I felt great, so off to run the second half I went. And as it ended I still felt great, and I even thought to myself, “That was a great run, this was a good day.”
I picked up my daughter at 3pm per schedule and brought her home so that I could get ready for work. A quick brisk shower and it was time to get dressed for work. And then, at 3:30pm, the day of my great run, my very good day began to end.
You know that rush you get when you stand up too fast, that lightheadedness that you momentarily feel. That happened to me. And it was so intense initially that I braced myself. Then it diminished (but didn’t go away) and I thought, not good, but tolerable. The effect I was left with, at first I thought tunnel vision, but it didn’t adequately describe what was going on. My peripheral vision in both eyes was haloed, or whited out. Or better yet it was like when something is digitized on the tv screen to censor it. At the time I had thoughts like, “Hey a nap right now would be great and I’m sure would fix everything.” And that turned into, “...but I might not wake up because what is going on here is that things are shutting down and the vision thing and the dizzy thing are my body’s clever way of saying goodbye.” [ed. Note: this was actual dialog going on in my head. No lie. No kidding.] I dismissed it eventually as all good people do with a, “y’know it really is probably nothing”, or as Ebeneezer Scrooge proffered, “Perhaps it was just an undigested piece of gruel”. Of course, we all know after he said that the Christmas shit really hit the fan.
But, I digress.
I dressed and headed to work, still lightheaded (so essentially I was being incredibly, if not completely, stupid) and that did concern me, but I pressed on because, after all, I am invincible and living proof of immortality. I parked at 4pm, and as I went to dig out quarters from my pants pocket, came the realization that my left hand was of a different mind and was no longer worker for me solely, but had subcontracted out to some company that was on a break. This was also coupled with the numbing of about 50% of my left arm. Now I thought, “This sucks...” Yet, in spite of it all I pressed on. I attributed the arm business to muscle spasm from the day’s run. No real problem. Except of course, that I was being stupid. Tip of the iceberg, as it were.
I got into work and within a few minutes decided to reassess my stance on whether or not I was making a career decision that was in favor of being an idiot. I decided that after all was said and done that I was, and I needed help of a healthcare nature. It was now 5pm and I called my wife to come and pick me up to take me to our healthcare facility. This I felt was a risky decision in and of itself because I was sure that there would be a very high risk of panic that would ensue. There wasn’t. She picked me up and we headed to our healthcare facility. What I gleaned from this experience is that although I’ve known for a long time if you say, “I’m having trouble breathing...”, everyone, including surgeons in the middle of open-heart surgery, will drop everything to help you. It is the #1 phrase that will get you anything. I discovered the second best thing is, “My left arm is sorta numb...” Won’t get surgeons out of surgery, but darn close. At the small facility we chatted, the doctor and I. My symptoms began to dissipate, but they ran an EKG, which showed I was healthy, which was positive. The doctor explained in a, better safe than sorry manner (he nor anyone else I was in contact with over the duration of this event ever alluded to my being an idiot, which I am thankful for) said that I needed to go to the ER at the Big Shot Hospital, where they would do definitive testing and give me the really important answers like, “Sure, feel free to make plans fro Friday”, or, “No, I wouldn’t bother booking anything after Friday, just throw your calendar away”. Of course I said ‘OK’. He then kinda muttered that the ER time would probably take 5 hours. Truer words were never spoken.
The ER portion, and I must say everyone (except for one asshole before the check-in) from beginning to end, the virtual parade of neurologists, doctors, PA’s, nurses, technicians, orderlies, and anyone I have forgotten, I’m truly sorry, was nice to me. The ER was just like on tv, in that it was chaotic, yet had a flow. While there I was treated to a cat scan, x-ray, another EKG, blood draw, and many mental faculty tests (Can you name the day/month/year in that order?) from 7:30pm to 3am. At which point they said, “Oh, actually we want you to stay for a sleep over, ‘cause all though you did great with every test we’ve thrown at you so far, your blood came back and said that you might be a tad fucked up, so we wish to throw bigger more expensive tests with machines that go ‘ping’.”
I am compelled to mention that any and all symptoms I had were gone before I got to the ER, so essentially I felt good again, and felt bad being surrounded by people truly in need of medical help. And there were many of those. The ER was chock full.
So anyway at 3am I was off to my room which I shared with a man who had some sort of loud pneumatic pumping machine thing to help him be alive. I have tinnitus so the noise really didn’t bother me. Come Wednesday morning and the beginning of what was to be through it all, the only bad part of the hospital experience (except of course, that asshole in the ER – a security guard who more than obviously thinks to himself , “I really should have a sidearm”) was the electrode patches. Folks, sorry to have to share this, but I got a hairy chest (not Robin Williams hairy, but still…) and by the time I had to remove those sticky superglued fuckers for the third time, I (dry) shaved those five spots as I knew there would be more tests to come, because you can’t have them on your person for certain tests; x-rays, MRI’s, etc. Tests I hadn’t had as yet. In retrospect, I think they purposely alternated the two types of tests just to see if I would cry (only a little the second time they were ripped off).
I spent the day picking out meal selections, getting tested, watching shows on channels I don’t have at home, and generally feeling bad because I didn’t feel sick at all and I was taking a bed from somebody who actually needed it. The only test related incident occurred during the MRI, which I’ve had one before so no big whoop. If you’re claustrophobic it can be a nightmare, but I usually fall asleep. The test was in three parts and took about an hour. In the third part they injected a dye to watch the highways and byways of the circulatory system in my head. I’m fine with this, except at the time the tech was putting in the injection she said the obligatory, “you’re going to feel a pinch…” duh. But then she said, “and you might notice a taste in your mouth and a smell.” They instantly scooted me back into the machine where you’re not allowed to move and I thought, “why did she say that? Then I could feel the salivating beginning and I’m thinking, ‘well is it the injection or am I just panicking? I knew I was now stuck in the machine and if I started swallowing hard it would screw up the fucking hour long test, but what can I do? I called on much self control and swallowed (again in retrospect I could have just drooled. It was a hospital after all) But everything corrected and I was off again to my room to await more tests, food, and tv. Did get to see Gladiator. This continued through Thursday where we finished up testing with an echo cardiogram, ultrasound of my carotids and a complimentary blood draw.
The paperwork was done then, all the neurologists looked at all the tests, came in and told me, “everything looks great, there is no evidence of a stroke (the first best guess), a heart attack, or coronary heart disease. So based on the evidence that there is no evidence, we find that you may or may not have had a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), which means a clot, or piece of plaque, may have worked itself free and lodged momentarily in a major artery and is now gone. So essentially something or nothing happened…we’ll need you to come back for more tests.” Oh and one of the side deals was ‘no more running’, which was a killer for me mentally. Some walking, OK, I can build up distance, but not running.
That one hurt. So I left the hospital, my adventure somewhat over. I stopped at the diner and got a cheeseburger platter. A farewell meal if you will.


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