October 25, 2009

My Fourth Birthday

October 25th, 2005 dawned cool and clear.  My alarm clock went off at 730am, as I was scheduled to open at the Duck U. Bookstore, but I just couldn't manage to wake up.  Even a good shower couldn't manage to clear my head.  Well, I'd been up late the night before, I just needed more sleep, right?  I got dressed and drove to work.

I assume.  Even at the time, I couldn't remember doing so.  One of the store's part-timers, who worked with me that morning, said that I seemed really out of it that morning, and I'm sure that's right.  But I was at work, and I had some stuff to do: a stack of invoices and credit memos that needed to be sorted and matched to their respective store-generated paperwork.

In the middle of doing that, however, something happened.  Something bad.

My heart gave a huge grinding thump.  Then it felt like it was tumbling down a flight of stairs for a moment, and then... it began to race.  I felt a cold sweat forming on my forehead and was, suddenly, very very warm.  I got up from my desk in the back room and walked unsteadily to the bathroom, wondering just what was happening.

When my heart kept racing, and seemed to be going faster and faster, I began to get scared... which, of course, made my heart go even faster.  I staggered back to the store and asked my co-worker to call 911.

A lifetime (or maybe 10 minutes) later, two EMTs showed up.  One of them starting asking me questions ("How do you feel?" "Tired." "Do you know where you are?" "Duck U." "Do you know who you are?" "I'm Batman."), while the other began pumping up a blood pressure cuff on my arm and holding my wrist.  After a second, he said "I can't get a pulse."

My heart was going so fast that the EMT could not distinguish one individual beat from another.  My blood pressure was too high for the cuff to read.  They got me on a stretcher and began to roll me out of the Bookstore, just as my boss walked in.  "Are you okay, Wonderduck?" "I'm going to the Hospital, Andi."

In the ambulance, the EMTs hooked me up to high-tech sensors and discovered my pulse was around 250bpm, my bp was a number I can't remember now, but was something like 300/200.  Ook.  Fortunately, they knew just what to do.  "We're going to give you a drug that'll stop your heart for a real short time.  It might be a little uncomfortable."

Yeah.  Uncomfortable.  Go ahead.  Zap.  Yup, he was right... a brick rested on my chest, but the heart didn't slow down.  Zap again.  Bigger brick... and my heart slowed down.  Ahh.

In the ER, they discovered my magnesium and potassium levels had cratered.  Since these control the heart AND brain function, which explained my fuzzyheadedness and my heart going faster than a dance club on speed. 

They kept me overnight, and the only thing on the TV was a World Series game that had gone into extra innings... which the hated White Sox won, dammit.  A bad day all around.

I had suffered something called Superventricular Tachycardia.  It isn't usually life-threatening, but that hardly matters when it's happening to you... and the longer it lasts, the more dangerous it gets.  In my case, it had gone on for nearly 45 minutes before they dropped the bricks on my chest, which is plenty long enough.  I now take a medication to hopefully prevent it from ever happening again, and potassium and magnesium supplements, just in case.  I've also stopped drinking caffeine (coffee or colas) and alcohol completely since the former is a stimulant and the second fights with the preventative medication. 

So today is the 4th anniversary of my first brush with mortality... and what could have been my last, too, if I hadn't done one simple thing.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you feel something odd going on with your heart, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.  You might think "eh, it's nothing", but you'd feel really dumb if it stopped altogether, wouldn't you?

So, please, if you get nothing else from The Pond, ever: call 911. 

I can't afford to lose more readers.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:34 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 723 words, total size 5 kb.

1 OT: You need to go watch this.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 25, 2009 02:07 PM (+rSRq)

2 Seen it numerous times, though not this remastered version.  Now if they'd do that to "Torpedo 8"...

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 25, 2009 06:11 PM (4Mcos)

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