The Whisky Tango Foxtrot, or, My Dance with Cardiovascular Drama

Hospitals suck. 

Let me rephrase that. Being in a hospital sucks.

No, I’m sorry, that still didn’t come out quite right. Let me try again. Being “sick”, in a hospital, sucks.

That still doesn’t really convey what I’m trying to say.

This past weekend, on Friday, April 24, 2015, on my birthday, I was in the hospital. It wasn’t necessarily a horrible experience, but it wasn’t a pleasant one either. I was there for a bout of Atrial Fibrillations. The top part of my heart was getting down with its bad self, making the bottom part of my heart looking like a Caucasian male with poorly coordinated celebratory festive moves. Together it was like one of them doing a foxtrot while the other was doing the tango, while drinking lots of whisky. The Whisky Tango Foxtrot. I’m just going to stop right there while y’all collect yourselves.

My last post spoke of my health. This one speaks of my deficiencies in this area.

Nature, as it is, tries its utmost to kill us. We, quite frankly, try to help it along by the poor choices we make. If it’s not a meteor crashing into the planet, an invisible microbe infecting our bloodstream, a saber-tooth tiger hiding in the brush, then it’s the cholesterol from that brontoburger, (the LDL, not the HDL), or the overdosage of psychoactive drugs of the methylxanthine variety, found commonly in the ever abundant Java berry. Caffeine. (Such was my case. I drank a venti frappucino that Thursday morning, and a large Dr. Pepper while at a movie. This amounts to the amount of caffeine I normally consume in a month, maybe two.) I lowered my guard for a few celebratory moments, (Hey! It was my birthday, for crying out loud!) and didn’t see the tiger crouching behind that hidden dragon.

At about 11:00pm, Thursday the 23rd, my heart started its Whisky Tango Foxtrot dance, and my thoughts were, I really don’t need this right now. This is a distraction, a “minor” inconvenience. All my months of hard work, and now this to set me back. I almost thought of blowing it off, maybe it will go away. But after five minutes of the dance, I decided to go to the ER. 

I called my friend, Richard Pate, and requested his chauffeuring service, because I’ll be damned if I was going to pay for an ambulance bill. Some would say a foolish choice, I say I’ve been down this road before and know my circumstances. I was alert and ambulatory, not in pain, could breathe, albeit some shortness of breath that comes with butterfly feelings that accompany the A-fibs. Richard got there about the same time an ambulance would have, and shortly we were at the ER. 

Within moments I was entwined in all the cables and tubes that entangle the typical hospital patient. Necessary, but oh so annoying. To abridge what will be an extremely boring story, they gave me an IV of meds that lowered, but not converting, my heart rate. For that, a dose of electricity would be administered by the paddles while I was under. That would be about 10-11 later, but for now, I was under observation, in hopes that meds would do the trick.

So, why do I “hate hospitals” so much? I think the fact that I’m a hostage to a necessary but tedious process. I couldn’t move and was not really comfortable, especially with dual IVs in my arms. To “ask permission”, or rather, get assistance, just to pee is an inconvenience. The doctors, nurses and specialists were all great, kind and helpful, and I’m forever grateful. But just the being “tied down” and being alone with nothing but your thoughts is a bit disconcerting. I usually take great delight in my solitude, being a raging introvert. But this time, my thoughts were directed to my mortality. I don’t face it very well. As the song goes, I’m at peace with dying, just the idea of dying, I don’t swallow very well.

By 6:30 that evening I was released, and Richard picked me up, an on we went for a makeshift birthday dinner at JalapeƱo Tree. Then onward home, where my bed and 14 hours of sleep awaited.

I wish I had a nugget of wisdom to dish out for this, but I don’t. The above was just a snapshot of my experience. I suppose the eye opener was, just like annoying notifications that come on our cell phones, life was saying, “Hey…it ain’t permanent. Any moment. You could go.” I don’t want to live in fear, but I don’t want to ignore that, either. I suck at dancing, but as a metaphor, there are other dances, other gigs I want to try before the curtain closes. I don’t really want to dance the BIG Whisky Tango Foxtrot anytime soon.