Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You Never Quite Know What's Around the Bend

Last week about this time I was struggling with a serious lack of energy.  An even PRONOUNCED serious lack of energy.  I thought about my daily schedule--which is often full of things to keep me busy; sometimes not getting to bed quite as early as I should, etc.

A reasonable look at my schedule might not be alarming.  I usually get up between 6 and 6:30 am, help get the grandchildren up for school, make their snacks and pack them in their lunch boxes while their Mom oversees them dressing and seeing to their basic hygiene needs.  I prepare breakfast for them.  I see to it that Little Britches gets his meds, my husband gets his, and I make my husband's lunch and set out his "stuff" for his own breakfast, etc.  Then, there's dishes, laundry and all the regular housekeeping I can get to, and some I can't.  On Wednesdays I usually have choir practice at Church.  I have, of late, been teaching Sunday School each week in the Gospel Doctrine, adults' class.  And since we lost our Ward Chorister, I've been leading the music in our congregation's Sacrament Meetings each Sunday.  I know people older and far busier than myself, so I just figured I was a little "out-of-tune" with where I should be.

But I was conscientiously working to improve where bad habits are concerned.  Yet, I still felt drained.  No pain.  No discomfort.  Unless you recognize discomfort as having little energy to do anything.  Tuesday I took my blood pressure to kind of "get a fix" on what might be going on.  It wasn't terribly abnormal.  My norm is around 120/70, pulse 60.   A week ago today, it was off:  something like 112/98, pulse 58.  And even after eating and resting (for 2.5 hours!) I still felt completely drained.  I wasn't alarmed, I just figured I was a lazy bum as usual.

Tuesday night, however, when I was saying my prayers, I asked the Lord to guide me in how I should approach this dilemma:  "If this is nothing and will soon pass, good.  But . . . IF this is something I need to seek medical professionals about, please let me know."  (I really hate running off to the doctor for nothing, and avoid (read:  Protest loudly) going to the ER in nearly every instance, except for when I had no other recourse.  That wasn't life threatening, just precautionary.)  And then I thought back a few weeks when I had a whole week of this dreaded feeling of being "excessively physically empty" inside.  I had taken lots of naps to help me through and seemed to come out of it--for the most part, until the first weekend of this month.

Last Wednesday I awoke about 5:45 am to bathroom.  I felt really weird.  My heart was racing approximately 102 beats a minute, just taking it with my fingers.  I prayed again for guidance and the word "pacemaker" came to mind.  Well, my husband does have his own special pacemaker/defibrillator, so you know, but I feel strongly that it was the answer to my prayer--I needed medical attention.  Now.

I went back to bed and told my husband I needed him to get the children up and let their Mom know I wasn't able to assist this morning--and could he please get the blood pressure machine and take my BP.  He did all the above--with great concern for my well being.  Our daughter came to check on me and said, "Mom, I think you need to go to the ER."  For the first time ever, I replied, "I think you're right.  But I don't want to go here in town, I don't want to go to the one 30 miles away, I want to go to Cabrini in Alexandria.  I'm more impressed with that ER than any other I've visited--as the "caretaker" to the person(s) there to be seen.  Plus, my husband's cardiologist is attached to that particular hospital.

Before the grandchildren left to catch their school buses, they with their Mom and Grandpa knelt around the bed and each offered a pray for me.  It touched my heart.  Nothing beats the simple, humble prayers of little children!  I felt better by the time we left the house.  Not by any means ready to skip and dance, but with more energy than I'd felt for several hours.

Before noon, the results of my EKG, the continuous monitoring of my heart rate, pulse, etc. (where my pulse dropped repeatedly into the 30's), blood work and X-rays were in.  The PA said, "Well, it looks like you need a pacemaker."  I just laughed!  It was, after all, no huge surprise, having been warned not that long before that might indeed be the case.  Then I asked, "You're kidding, right?"

The PA was surprised at my response.  "No!  I'm very serious."  I then explained to her that I'd thought about that very thing not many hours before.  Later, one of the ER nurses mentioned that I was taking the "news" much better than most!

They ran me through some other tests before they got me to a room in the hospital.  Dr. Hawthorn had come in to see me first to ask me about family history in the cardiac vein (pun intended, I guess!), etc., etc.  He said he'd schedule me for the following morning.  I don't know why I was surprised about that, but it was so SOON!  So QUICK!  And, he said, when I asked, "How long will I have to stay in the hospital?"  He said, "one night after the surgery."

Thursday morning came early.  I was conscious during the surgery, which was interesting.  He asked me from time to time how I was doing.  I don't think it took too long, either.  BUT, when he was through, my head began to itch like fire!  When they released my once restrained arms, I began scratching like mad!  Something, including benedril was administered IV, and I went soundly to sleep.  According to my husband, after returning to my room, an echocardiagram was performed.  Later the Dr. told me, "Your heart valves are  pristine and there are no blockages anywhere."  It's a total electrical problem.

Oh, and yes, I forgot to mention.  While inserting the lead for the pacemaker into my heart he nicked my lung.  Tiny nick.  My veins are really small--which I've know for some time--and I remember hearing him try a few time to get the correct lead to go to the correct spot--while it was happening.

I mentioned to him on his post op visit that I was having terrific muscle spasms in my upper back, left side.  I was taken for X-rays which showed a little "air" where is wasn't supposed to be.  That night at about 11 PM I was taken to another spot to have a drainage tube installed to drain any air/fluid that might accumulate.  It was painful for a moment, but not too bad.

Sunday, we were headed home.  Now, I've just got to take things easy for a bit and get more X-rays done tomorrow.


Bob said...

So sorry you have had this bit of unpleasantness! Glad you are up and feeling well enough to report on it, though. Keep us posted and I will be praying for you. Sounds like you have a very good support system all around you.

Lots of prayers and good wishes . . .

Pencil Writer said...

Thank you, Bob, for your kind words, prayers and good wishes! I'm grateful for everyone who has offered a prayer(s) in my behalf. I'm getting stronger every day, but feel like a bum so often because I get so worn out so easily. One bright note, however! The only pain meds I've taken since the day of surgery and maybe the first part of day 2, has been Tylenol extra strength. I'm VERY grateful for that. (Most pain meds and I don't get along--on several levels!

Best to you and your lovely family and the up-coming nuptials. I'm looking forward to updates!

Debby said...

Gees, PW. Sorry to hear of this, but as Bob said, I am also glad that you have a circle of support. Take it easy during your recuperation. Just for kicks, try following the doctor's orders: take it easy.

BUSH BABE said...

Holy smoke girlfriend!!! Glad that's all done and dusted... hope you feel much better and back on top of the game soon.


jeanie said...

Oh my - I am glad you got the guidance you required at the right time!!

Best luck on a speedy recovery.