THROWBACK THURSDAY (#TBT)
So like this blog has fell behind. My second hospital confinement is being labeled as “Throwback Thursday” since it happened more than 3 months ago now. I’m doing well today. But on January 10 I ended up in the emergency room only 5 days after being released. The following is a brief account of that time.
I was released from the hospital on January 5.
I started keeping a log of my meals, medications and more in a tablet starting on January 6. The following are brief summaries from entries I wrote in the log after my initial release from Kaiser Moanalua.
January 6: Took my morning medications: Oxycodone for pain; and then later Amiodarone, Low Dose Aspirin, Famotidine, Furosemide, Metoprolol, and Terazosin. At the time these and a few more for my evening routine were / are considered essential to my post-up survival. My evening meds included some of the above in addition to Atorvastatin and Warfarin. It was difficult at the beginning to get used to the medication names, dosages and times of day to take each one.
Meals were limited to small portions of fish, fruits, veggies and cereal with low fat milk during breakfast. In those early days after my initial discharge, things were tough.
Walking was a chore. I moved very slowly because my breathing accelerated and grew tired quickly after walking only a short distance. However walking was the key to my recovery as the doctors encouraged more walking many times every day.
Besides walking, PAIN was… well a pain! I was also encouraged to cough the mucus out that built up in my lungs after surgery. I was still required to hold the heart pillow against my chest. For the month of January, the pain level at every cough was a severe 6, 7 or 8 on the numeric pain scale of 0 to 10.
Pain was a constant companion after surgery for many weeks and is still around today but not as intense as it was in January.
Shortly after my release from the hospital I bought a blood pressure monitor. I also have a Pulse Oximeter which I bought for my Mom in 2014. I got it back after she passed away last year. The former device measures your blood pressure and the latter measures your breathing and heartbeat. The blood pressure monitor also gives out a heartbeat reading.
It is a good thing I had these devices at home.
January 6 — Pulse: 96 bpm O2 – 95: I learned early on that a pulse rate of 96 is considered high. That pulse rate was with me after my surgery and would spike higher when I walked around in the hospital.
January 7 — 8:00 am — Pulse 96 bpm O2 – 93 | BP 125/85 Later that day: BP 144/89
January 7 – 6:30 pm — BP 149/89 Pulse 97 bpm
January 8 – 5:30 am – I had a higher heart rate that morning when I walked a very short distance: Pulse 112 bpm. A blood pressure reading one hour later: 117/74 Pulse 102 bpm 10:30 am – Pulse 96 bpm BP 123/84 8:40 PM BP 120/83 Pulse 88 bpm
January 9 – 11:15 am BP 115/78 Pulse 90 bpm
January 10 – I had a hard time breathing that morning. Shortness of breath. I could hardly walk or move around without running out of breath. It was decided early that morning that I would be driven to the hospital emergency room. Sandra and I were originally going to take a taxi from the hotel to Kaiser Moanalua. That did not work out. I tried to walk out of the room and in the hallway but rapidly ran out of breath. I could feel the shortness of breath as well as my accelerated heartbeat. Had I continued walking I probably would have collapsed. Therefore I turned around and walked slowly back to the room.
We called 911.
The Oximeter reading that morning showed an O2 rate of 94 (normal) but a pulse of 112 bpm. The paper log stopped after the that for 2 days.
THE AMBULANCE RIDE: It took about 20 minutes (again) before the City’s EMS ambulance arrived. Two paramedics came up to the room and took me away on a gurney. Sandra accompanied me on the ambulance. She rode in the front seat with the driver. She was quite impressed as to how quickly the vehicle moved and more than that, how quickly other drivers in front of the ambulance moved out of the way. I was fully conscious and aware of where we were going. We raced up Keeaumoku St., turned left on Beretania than again on Piikoi to take the on-ramp to the H1 freeway. We got to the emergency room in about 15 minutes. All the way there I was hooked up to an EKG monitor as well as other devices while the paramedics read off numbers and communicated with the hospital.
HOSPITALIZATION…. AGAIN: I spent about two hours in the emergency room before the doctor on call decided to admit me and keep me “under observation”. I was taken to a nearby complex of small rooms where patients are placed “under observation”. It was not the same telemetry ward that I was in during my initial hospitalization. For the next two days I was hooked up to a constant IV drip of Amidarone (for heart fibrillation) among other medications.
I vividly remember is that while being moved out of the emergency room and to one of the observation rooms, they had my heart hooked up to an audio heart monitor. It played out each heartbeat which sounded like a Pong game gone wild. The chaotic heartbeat was a sure sign that something was wrong with me. If this was not treated I could have had a stroke. Fluid buildup in my left lung was also a culprit.
In time, the drug therapy worked and by the afternoon on January 12 I was discharged.
January 13 – Out of the hospital and back at “home”. 8:16 am – O2 94 Pulse 83 bpm. 10:00 am Blood test at Kaiser Clinic on Pensacola St.
January 14 – Walking more; down the hallway and to the lobby. Better than Jan. 10. Pulse sitting 99 bpm. At 3:10 pm that day I noticed higher heartbeat rates of 106, 108, 109, 111, 103, 97 and more just sitting in place after walking. I called Kaiser’s cardiology department and talk to Nurse Ruth. Can’t remember exactly what she told me then, but I think it was to keep monitoring and call her again the next day.
By this time I was taking Amidarone twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. Over time the Amidarone did its job. My heart rate, fibrillation eventually slowed down to “normal” levels.