COMPARE AND BE GRATEFUL

Recently, much to my dismay, I found myself back in the hospital. I began experiencing severe chest pain Sunday night. Considering it has not been that long since my open heart surgery, I went into the Emergency Room at the local hospital. There I lay for several hours as they filled me up with a vast array of pain killers, none of which seemed to do very much. I received a CT scan which showed I had fluid around my heart. A decision was made to transfer me to the hospital that my surgeon works out of so he could take a better approach at observing me.

Very early Monday morning they boxed me up in an ambulance and whisked me away to the next hospital. The ride was bumpy, but they gave me a free stuffed alligator for being a good patient. I rather enjoyed that personally. I arrived at my new digs around 6 am and was told that I could not have anything to eat or drink, including water, in case they wanted to do a test. Mind you I ate dinner around 7 the night before. This lasted until 4pm, when the doctor left for the day and it was clear they were not going to test me. In other words, it was all for nothing. Having morphine and other heavy duty pain killers in your system on an empty stomach was not very thrilling. Worse yet, they informed me at 7 pm that evening I was back to no food or water in case they wanted to test me the following day. This lasted until 11 am the following day. After persistent “Test me or give me a damn cracker!” outbursts from yours truly, the finally decided they were not going to test me for anything that day either.

My alligator from the folks at Bell Ambulance

Here I was, day three in the hospital, still in pain and nobody could give me an answer as to why. They had added an ultrasound to the CT Scan and now informed me there was no fluid around my heart. Later, a chest x-ray was added. I think this was just so they could say they did all of the imaging tests. By this time I was growing quite frustrated. Even the nurses, who were wonderful and helpful people, were also growing frustrated at the doctors lack of appearances or answers.

I stayed in the hospital 2 more days. These 4 days amounted to the same amount of time I had spent in the hospital after my open heart surgery. I had seen 3 doctors that were not even ones I go to. It was not until one of them did a little more poking around that they came to the conclusion that I had a rare condition that affects 5% of heart surgery patient. It is a sort of late onset inflammation. By the time I was going to be released, I was pretty frustrated. In addition to enduring 18 hours of no food and water one day followed by 14 hours of the same the following day for absolutely no reason, it was like pulling teeth to get answers or talk to a doctor. Then, I refocused. This was aided by 2 events, one very tragic and one pleasant.

As I was putting all of my stuff in a bag to take with me, I received a message I was not expecting. I have been out of my day job since the 11th of January because of my surgery. I just learned one of my coworkers, only a year my senior, had passed away. Little did I know that 2 months ago when I saw him, it would be the last time. Sure, I was leaving the hospital with ‘best guess’ diagnosis and treatment, but at least I was leaving. My friends and family would be happy for my return and not mourning my loss. I suddenly felt a little guilty for feeling the way I was. I am sure this man would have preferred to return to his family and his friends.

That night as I went to sleep, I noticed how my mattress, that had always felt rather uncomfortable, felt like a cloud compared to the bed in the hospital. What was even better was that I was sharing it with the most beautiful woman in the world. The very one who snuck me in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in case they tried make me endure a third day of forced hunger strikes. This brief moment of pain and struggle was nothing compared to what it could have been. I made it out of the hospital. I was feeling quite better than when I went in. I did have a bed to return to. I also had someone extremely special to share it with. It was then I recalled the quote from Gandhi above. No matter how much life seems to be throwing at you, it is throwing a whole lot more at others. Not only that, but it will certainly remind you of all you have to be grateful for that you may have forgotten.

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