A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Don’t Make Me Turn Off That Heart Monitor

This week, Tuesday was an unproductive day for me. I came to this conclusion in the middle of the afternoon as I sat in a hospital emergency room with oxygen tubes up my nose, a blood pressure bladder constricted around my arm, an IV needle piercing my hand, and heart monitor jacks positioned on various parts of my body. All this was to confirm or rule out a suspected heart attack.

My problems started on the weekend, when I hauled heavy boxes in and out of the old family homestead in Catawissa. One of these containers was roughly the size and shape of King Tut’s sarcophagus that contained Christmas decorations. My Mom needed to sort through this box and, being the dutiful son, I dragged it around the side of the house up to the front door and into the living room.

The pain started Monday morning while I slept. It was on the right side of my chest, a fact that I emphasized several times to every medical professional I spoke to on Tuesday when I finally sought treatment. I described my symptoms to my doctor’s office and they didn’t feel they had the necessary equipment to determine my problem. They suggested I go to the nearest emergency room.

Once at the hospital, I waited nearly two hours, had some preliminary testing done (blood pressures, temperature, etc.), waited another hour before I was taken back into the emergency room where I was hooked up with no hope of escape. Here I sat for four hours while the nurses and doctors made their decision if I was going to live or not. For anyone who has ever spent time in an emergency room, then you know that there is nothing to pass the time except stare at the walls, count the cabinets on the wall, calculate the room dimensions by counting the ceiling tiles, and finally dozing off. There isn’t so much as a television to watch soaps on, let alone Jerry Springer. I had brought a book – a rather intellectual tome on the life of the 25th president of the United States, William McKinley — but that was out of my reach.

I resorted to thinking about several blog ideas I had. One sprang from the news that Britney Spears' mother would write a book about raising children. This was perplexing and amusing, since Britney’s efforts to maintain a good home environment for her own children has become the butt of many late night talk show jokes. I thought perhaps there were other books that never got written because, for one reason or another, their author was totally unsuitable for the task. I envisioned a top ten list of such titles, but I got stuck and never got beyond this one: “Feeling The Love: World Brotherhood in Ten Days” by Adolf Hitler.

I also had a similar case of writer’s block when I thought bizarre names for classic rock acts would also make an interesting blog topic. There was a time when we had such bands as Electric Prunes, Canned Heat, and Elephants Memory performing rock and roll music. My idea would be a similar top ten list of names that could have been suggested and/or tried before they finally settled on Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I could think of Bachman-Turner Gearbox, Bachman-Turner Liver Ice Cream, Bachman-Turner Fried Scrapple, and Bachman-Turner Frank and Reynolds before this idea dried up.

Once again, I abandoned these thoughts for a more worthwhile activity, namely moving my body around to alleviate the pain in my sore butt, and seeing how the heart monitor reacted to such movement. The usual pattern on the heart monitor shows one line going up at a steep angle, returning back to the middle of the chart where the pattern is completed with many tight, wiggly lines scrunched up close together. This is repeated several times as it travels across the screen, disappears, and almost immediately reappears at the left side of the screen again. I found my attempts at breaking the usual monotony to be very enlightening.

For example, moving one leg under the other produced a long line launching upwards like a rocket, break fast and hurtle head long to the very bottom of the screen. Then it returned to its normal mid-point pattern of tight squiggles. Waving my arm back and forth made the line bend like a wave that nearly crashed down on the middle squiggles, but instead resumed its straight crash dive to the bottom of the screen. Believe it or not, these experiments really broke the boredom of my afternoon. Obviously, I had waaaay too much time on my hands.

Shortly after this, the nurse came in with a Motrin and my discharge papers. They decided that my heart was fine, but I did strain a muscle somewhere in the general region. I dressed, signed some papers, and as I left, I looked back at the heart monitor and smiled. I couldn’t help wondering if my nephews would be surprised to see a heart monitor underneath their Christmas tree this year. Hmm, I wonder if they’re available at Best Buy...


Blogger Sally said...

Todd! Thank Jebus you're okay. Good grief, man.

If you ever have to go to the hospital again (which I hope you don't!), go to Mercy Suburban. They have TVs. And crucifixes.

November 18, 2007 at 8:55 AM  

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