“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Text of a cable sent from London to the US press after his obituary had been mistakenly published.
What’s a noteworthy main event without a quality curtain call? Why, it’s like a gourmet meal without something to cleanse the palate.
With that in mind 36 hours or so after dying I decided to “do it again jack.”
Thursday had been a gangbusters day following surgery. I was hitting all the markers. I was already walking up and down the hallways tethered to God only knows how many tubes and lines. It was a good day and the hospital staff seemed pleased.
And then the bear jumped on my back. The heart pace-makery gadgetry that had failed initially due to a circuit coming undone, failed again. This time it was because the internal piece had worked its way out of my heart and so once again my heartbeats per minute began to dive. This reality was combined with the fact that I was being given heart drugs to support the heart but had a side-effect of slowing the BPM down a wee bit and my body over-reacted to those drugs and instead of slowing down a wee bit it decided to go on holiday.
The wizards of the heart tried to set the pacemaker at a higher rate but the only effect, given that the gadgetry was no longer where it belonged internally, was to give me a decidedly noticeable mini shock. And as the wizards of the heart were bound and determined to get their machine to work, the consequence is that I endured these repeating delightful mini-shocks. Each different wizard of the heart who showed up to try and get their gadgetry running thought that if they just shocked me once again like the previous wizard of the heart had done the machine would start working.
Now, that more than a few wizards of the heart have taken their turns learning that their gadgetry no longer worked it became obvious that there was a real problem. My heart beat had been steady but had steadily dropped. When Jane left Thursday night on 18th May the BPM was in the 50’s. When she returned in the morning it was in the 40’s. Before the morning was to far spent it would be in the 30’s. Now, I’d like to have the heartbeat of a world class marathon runner but my body was beginning to protest. I began retching. (Fortunately for all parties concerned my stomach was empty.) The heartbeat monitor slipped to 27 and I distinctly remember lifting my head and looking around at the now numerous staff and saying, “hey, am I dying here?” They all resounded with a definite “no.” I hardly shared their confidence.
At one point I flatlined. Now I had always thought that flatlining meant you were dead. (Great classic film with Julia Roberts — Flatliners.) However, later I learned that flatlining does not mean one is dead it only means that one is kind of dead.
Shades of “The Princess Bride” came instantly to mind;
Billy Crystal as Miracle Max — Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.
Now, that is a distinction you need to keep stored away in your mind for future reference. So, I was not dead a second time. I had only flatlined. I found a great deal of comfort in later learning that distinction existed.
At this point the wizards of the heart accepted the defeat of their gadgetry and decided to go with another technology. So, up in my hospital bed I go, and some chap sweeps in and announces that it has been decided that a “floating pacemaker” is going to be dropped through my jugular vein. What they did is they made an incision in the jugular and dropped a pacemaker via the jugular vein into my (marginally) beating heart.
During this surgical procedure one of the staff determined that Jane could not be present at my bedside while Jane had determined that her determination to stay would be greater than the determination of one staff member to remove her. My last memory of those contretemps was the surgeon saying … “It’s ok. The wife can stay.” It was kind of irrelevant because Jane wasn’t leaving. Keep in mind folks, my wife is a retired nurse who throughout her career worked in just about every aspect of nursing imaginable. I was glad she was there. I held on to her hand for the whole time.
I was given the anesthetic — the kind that doesn’t necessarily put one to sleep but does necessarily make you not care or feel about matters touching being cut. The floating pacemaker was dropped down the vein. Sometime later I regained cognizance from not being dead a second time and that portable pacemaker was working like a charm. My heartbeat was back up to 89 beats per minute. And I went from feeling like Chuck Wepner in the 15th round to feeling like Muhammad Ali in that same round against Wepner. The change was dramatic.
A few hours later there was some debate about how the portable pacemaker worked. I don’t understand the details of the debate. I do understand that the “Queen of the pacemakers” arrived to resolve the dispute. However, not all the nursing staff were as confident as the Queen of the pacemakers was confident about what she was doing. The Queen came in and started doing this and that and one of the Nurse Practitioners, much to my consternation, suddenly said with emphasis and alarm, “Queeney, don’t do that.” The Queen replied that there was no worry. Maybe not but given that response of the Nurse practitioner (who was a woman who knew her trade) I was beginning to worry. Fortunately, they did not call here the “Queen of the Pacemakers” without reason. Whatever she did was the right call.
The downside of this temporary pacemaker was the requirement that I would be on complete bedrest until Monday. That was over 48 hours away. I was not sure I could go 48 hours with only squirming in a hospital bed allowed. Fortunately, that did not come to pass. Saturday the surgical Doc showed up and proclaimed that I should be walking.
And here we come across perhaps one of the chief frustrations with my hospital tenure. It was not untypical for one Doc to say one thing, only to be told a short time later by a different Doc that what the previous Doc said was irrelevant. I learned to quit listening until I heard what I wanted to hear and then I would camp on that and tell everyone else .. “Nope, we are going with this version of events.”
So, on Saturday I got to walk the halls again. While walking the halls we passed the Queen of the Pacemakers who began to expostulate that I was not to be up walking. The only thing I could respond to her was to quote the Doc, when she was told that I was told that I couldn’t walk the halls;
“The Doctors make the decisions about these kind of matters.”
And so Saturday, I began to motor through the hallways.
And I noticed a funny thing. There were all kinds of signs everywhere about the necessity to be quiet. Each poster had a face on it and said something like “Be quiet, my daughter is trying to rest,” or, “Be quiet my husband is healing,” or something like that. The odd thing is that of all these various posters urging me to be quiet not one face was a white face. I saw an Indian face beckoning me to be quiet for his daughter. I saw some kind of Arabian face beckoning me to be quiet for her husband but I didn’t see any WASP face imploring me to be quiet. It’s just one of those things I couldn’t help but notice and you can bet the bank that the absence of white faces on those “Be quiet” posters was not an accident.
This brings me to the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE) poster board. It is clear that WOKEism is part of medicine. I will delve into that more in a subsequent post.