Friday, January 12, 2007

An Ambulance Adventure

Well, I've been dropping in to visit Ambulance Driver every day, so I thought I'd entertain him [and y'all] with an ambulance story of my own.

Several years ago, I used to get 'the vapahs'. I'd be sittin' watching TeeVee or reading and my little heart would just start beatin' like MAD! When these episodes first started, in my early 20's, they would last a few seconds and resolve on their own. As I got older, and life became more stressful, they began to last longer, I'd tach [my heart would beat faster] and I began to notice other symptoms as well during these episodes. Symptoms such as substernal chest pain : that's pain under the breastbone; shortness of breath; and tingling in my hands. Since I was married to an Emergency Room Nurse, he insisted I go see the doctor about these episodes.
The doctor listened to my symptoms and confirmed my husband's diagnosis of Paroxsysmal Atrial Tachycardia. That means my heart would astart beating real fast, the beats started in the atria [the upper chambers of the heart] and it was like a spasm. He suggested some different tactics I could try to cope with these episodes. If they didn't work, then I could come back and see him and try some medicine.
Well, for a couple of years, cutting back on caffeine worked. Then when I would have a PAT, using the Valsalva motion worked. That's where you take a deep breath and then hold it and bear down, like when you're in labor and tryin' to push that little incubus out into the world. That worked for a couple of years. When that quit working, I moved on to dunking my entire face in big bowl of ICE water. That activates something known as the "diver's reflex". Don't ask me why, but it slows your heart down. That worked for a while.
Then, I got a divorce. I didn't have a PAT for a looonnnnggg time after that. But, one night, I'm sitting there watchin TeeVee with the kids and WHAM. It was like somebody hit me in the chest with their fist. And my heart was off and runnin'! Well, neither kid knew how to drive, so I called 911. I knew I had several friends who would come over and stay with the kids once I left the house. I was trying to stay calm for their sake.
So the ambulance rolls up to the curb, and I'm bein' all cool and jokin w/ the paramedics so my kiddos won't completely wig out. But, by now I've been in tachycardia long enough that my chest is hurting and I'm getting short of breath. Before I let one of the PMs put an O2 mask on I pull him down so I can whisper in his ear, "Please take me outside. I don't want my kids to see all this." He nods and tells the rest of his crew that they need to move me out to the ambulance.
I tell my daughter who to call, and which hospital we're going to. I kiss both kids goodbye and tell them not to worry, "You know, I've had this before. They'll give me the same medicine they always do, and I'll be home in a couple of hours." They are being brave, and trying not to cry.
As the PMs roll me out, I see my dtr on the phone.
They get my out and into the ambulance. One PM is on my left taking BP and running a EKG strip to get my heart rate. I'm taching so fast he can't keep up to count. Turns out I'm running at 220/minute. Another PM has unlatched the bottom of the stretcher and is straddling me trying to get an IV started on my right arm. He finally find a vein and gets the cath in and says, "OK, I'm in. Turn me on." Meaning, start the IV.
I'm laying there, inbetween this strange man's legs, I take the oxygen mask away from my face and breathlessly say, "Oh, Baby".
What possessed me to do that, I don't know. I felt awful, I REALLY did. But the situation was so absurd, I KNEW I was gonna be OK once I got to the Er and they gave me that drug that cardioverts you like the paddles do. And when he said that...I just couldn't resist!
I'll give him this, as red as he blushed, he didn't laugh. His partner choked, but HE didn't laugh.
My friend, DossieRe, the ER nurse, wasn't working that night. So I never did hear if he got ribbed by the nurses or not. I'm bettin' his partner couldn't WAIT to tell every living soul in the ER AND back at the Station about the crazy lady with the fast heart and "Oh, Baby".
What do you think, Ambulance Driver?


phlegmfatale said...

I love the crap out of that - it's exactly what I probably would have done to ease the tension of a moment like that. My great granny was about 90 when she was ass-up in an operating room, conscious and telling the doctor jokes as he went about the business of operating on her hemorrhoids - spunky lady!

Lovi said...

ROFLMAO - there's no doubt that his partner made sure EVERYONE knows what had happened! Thanks for the laugh!

Flo said...

Excuse me. Back in MY day, the ER nurses were professionals. We NEVER would have ribbed a paramedic or EMT.

Now those doctors were another story.

Swamp land, anyone?

Ambulance Driver said...

ROFLMAO...Holly, you're my kinda patient!

I'll typically use a joke here and there to lighten the mood. If the patient asks me if they're going to be okay, I'll look at them somberly and say, "Well, I have good news..."

"I just saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico."

Gets a laugh every time.

Years back, I picked up a dehydrated cardiologist who passed out on the golf course. He was a tough stick, and told me so.

So right before I went in with the IV cath, I made eye contact with him, closed my eyes and went "N-n-n-na-na-na-na..."

He about pissed himself laughing. I think EVERY golfer can quote lines from Caddyshack.

Doris Marie said...

Your friend Dossie has repeated that story several times to local professionals (ED dr's PM's. students, nurses.....)and we all roar. humor is a good thing!