Hospital food continued

And so now I was going to be overnight in the hospital. . . I would have to order dinner. “Heart Healthy.” I was starving.

The people in the kitchen must be fierce because each of the three times a nurse told me I should order a meal they also told me that if I had any “problems” with the kitchen I should let them know and they’d take care of it.  I called down and ordered the Chicken Caesar, only no, they can see that I am in Cardiac Care…no Caesar salad dressing…no salt.

Caesar salad my ass. Pile of Iceberg Lettuce salad (with grape tomatoes which have no place in a Caesar salad) with no dressing. White bread with “whipped spread.” The chicken breast was, you know, edible in a dry, choking-me sort of way. The whipped spread was not bad, much to my surprise but of course by then I was so hungry I’d have eaten an anchovy.

Then it was on to an evening and night of incessant blood draws, beeping, whirring, buzzing, and around 4 AM, a fire alarm. All of that coupled with the plastic tube stuck into my arm that hurt like, well, a plastic tube stuck in your arm, I did not get a full hour of sleep all night.

When, at 8 AM, I was taken down for my stress test my eyes were vibrating exhaustion. So I’m some old guy in a hospital gown (you put a hospital gown on anyone and they look like one foot in the grave), crazy hair (I need a hair cut), unshaven, cords all over the place and the thing starts…6 minutes in I can see the technician looking at me and at the readings with some sort of something on her face, concern? Then, at 8 minutes, she looks up from the machine and says, “Are you a runner??” When I got off at 11 minutes the cardiologist told me I have less than 1% chance of having a heart attack. So there’s that.

Then on to the nuclear scans which will tell me if there is blockage in my arteries…in an MRI tube with my hands over my head for 25 minutes. I passed the time by singing (in my head) the entire first side of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. “It was 20 years ago today…” It’s remarkable that I am able to recall all the words to an entire side of an album I haven’t heard for 40 years but can’t seem to recall the 4th item on the 4-item grocery list I left on the counter in my house this morning. When the time was up the tech said, “No one ever stays that still.” It was for the benefit of Mr Kite.

My arteries are clear. I have no damage to my heart from heart attack. WooHoo. I was free to go…and yet, they would not release me unless I had someone to drive me home. Are you fucking kidding me?!

My father, who I resemble in many ways, had blocked arteries and bypass surgery at 68. He ran all his life like I do. He ate healthier than I do so the only thing I can think is: RED WINE baby!! It saved my life.

It was a muscle spasm apparently. And by the way, saltless scrambled eggs are just plain miserable.




Hospital food; Long story, longer

#1. I am perfectly healthy, it was not a heart attack.

But that didn’t prevent me from spending Monday and most of Tuesday in the hospital reaching this conclusion. I hate to complain, as you know, compared to the terrible things that happen to people this was a trip to the Waldorf, but it was super-not-fun to say the least, emotionally stressful, and the food, good God.

On Sunday after a 3 mile run, I had chest pain. It was a powerful blast of pain to the left side of my chest that had made me grip my chest and then, not wanting anyone at the gym to think I was having a heart attack, let go. And then I thought…Am I having a heart attack? It had been brief, less than 5 minutes maybe, but I recognized that there was no shortness of breath, no fatigue, no nausea or any other signs of a heart attack.

So I didn’t go to the ER until Monday. There were reasons for this, maybe not good ones (and Christ, everyone and their brother has felt the need to lecture me about my foolish decisions) but I knew that I was not suffering. I also knew that no one would see me until Monday, and that in the ER on a Sunday there would be a billion people coughing flu virus into the soupy atmosphere of same area in which  I’d be sitting, waiting for a gurney, for hours. I also knew that if in fact I had had a heart attack, the “markers” for it would still be in my blood 24 hours later.

So I went on Monday morning.

There was no one in the waiting room. The nurse who admitted me confirmed my suspicion that Sunday would have been difficult at best. There had been no available beds, so, goodish decision there. Within 10 minutes she had taken a blood test and told me I had not had a heart attack. (No markers in my blood). I thought…Whoopee, I’m out of here in 10 minutes….but no.

The pain could have come from blocked arteries. Yes, of course. My father had blocked arteries at 68.  My father who ran everyday, didn’t smoke or drink, and ate steamed green beans for every meal had blocked arteries. Now I was worried. I know blocked arteries require stents. It solves the problem, but, stents. Surgery. So tests all afternoon to find blocked arteries. There was the possibility that I would be out by dinner time. But not a good one.

No tests materialized as I spent the entire day in a hospital bed in Cardiac Care twiddling my thumbs. Mid afternoon when it was clear that no tests were imminent I was allowed to order a “Heart Healthy” lunch. Turkey sandwich. Salt free.

My cardiologist showed at 5:30 and verified that I would have tests in the morning. I was staying overnight. Super-not-fun.