My Second Life Part IV: Just One Last Test…

In which I find out that I’m screwed.

There’s a lot of testing that goes on in hospitals. It seemed every hour or two, day or night, someone would come in and take blood, test my blood sugar and test my blood pressure. It really didn’t bother me at all, I was glad that someone was checking on me. I always asked what my numbers were and began to mentally chart my stats. It seemed to me that I was improving!

Diabetes is a strange disease. As I said one of the things that they were constantly testing was my blood sugar levels. A couple of times in the middle of the night my sugar levels were too low. It made a surreal situation even more bizarre to have a nurse shake me awake saying, “Mr. Hires? Mr. Hires?! I need you to wake up and eat this turkey sandwich”.


“Eat this turkey sandwich and drink this juice”

OK …um, what time is it?

“Its two AM. Eat the sandwich.”

Its not a conversation that I’ve had before or since.

Periodically I’d be wheeled out to some remote location on another floor to be x-rayed or otherwise scanned. On these journeys I got to see more of the hospital then the curtains around my bed. A few things disturbed me. First was the “art” that lined the hallways. My God people! How is this allowed to continue? I think the intention of this night gallery of pastel landscapes and vases of flowers was to sooth the nerves of the sick and their grief stricken visitors. It had the exact opposite effect on me. I felt I was being wheeled through a fun house where the walls were festooned with the works of Saturday afternoon PBS painters run amuck. A kaleidoscope of the mundane – visual muzak. Certainly a shame when there are so many talented local artists.

My other observation terrified me. The hospital was run on Windows! My god my life was in the hands of Bill Gates! I prayed that a service pack or some crap DLL didn’t inadvertently kill me. Every time I was x-rayed I thought, This is it! This is the time a Windows security loop hole allows in a virus, I get zapped with a billion rads of gamma radiation and become a monstrous shambling beast. Oh it happens all the time! They cover it up.

Finally I was told that they’d run one more test and I’d most likely be sent home. Yeah baby! Home! Home where I could get more on the TV than Walker Texas Ranger and House. Home, where I could take a shower. Home, where most importantly, there were no damned room mates! What’s the test? Bring it on!

Well, it turns out that they want to tap a big vein in my leg and run a camera up my circulatory system and snoop around my heart a bit. They’d inject the area with a dye that they could use to scan my heart. See what’s really going on. Oh, and what’s that? I’m going to be awake through the whole thing? Swell.

The next morning a burley and indifferent orderly wrestled me on to a gurney and sped me once again through those corridors of bad taste to a room full of equipment designed by Jack Kirby. There a Doctor and several rather attractive assistants got me ready. Some pain killers and some movement of equipment later they were ready. To tell you the truth I didn’t feel a thing. And then there it was – my heart on a grainy video monitor beating away.

“Well that’s not good.”

Those words are very high on the list of things you don’t want to hear at a time like that. It turns out that out of the four major arteries that feed the heart one was totally blocked and two others are about 85% blocked. Holy crap! Suddenly I’m not going home. I’m going to the cardiac unit at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Camden for triple bypass heart surgery!

Next: I take the most expensive car ride of my life and get a new room mate.