Monday, August 01, 2005

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Friday night found Jason and I again in a frigid, gray hospital room with too many machines and not enough blankets.

At some point that afternoon, it became painful for Jason to breathe. He winced every time he inhaled. His body was tense. He couldn't get through another hour without going to the hospital.

My first call was to my father, to find out exactly how he felt when he was having his heart attack. The way Jason had clutched at his chest scared me. I didn't know if the drugs had caused some sort of cardiac arrest.

Then I started calling his doctors, but it was already too late on a Friday afternoon. None of them could be reached. I looked for an urgent care clinic, but I didn't know exactly where to go in the strange town where we're staying.

So we ended up back at the ER where we had spent so much time less than a month ago.

It's amazing how little the real ER is like the show. There wasn't really a rush to help this boor guy who couldn't breathe. We waited for a few hours. I read Jason a children's book from the waiting area -- "Your Trip to the Hospital" -- that illustrated the process with cartoon bunnies. But the sick bunnies didn't have to wait half a day to see Dr. Rabbit.

Finally we got into a room. Then waited.

The doctor popped in and talked to Jason for two minutes. Then we waited.

They put weird stickers all over Jason's body and gave him an EKG. Some people stopped by a took blood. He was then given two chest X-rays.

The doctor said there was a chance that a blood clot had broken loose from the swollen part of Jason's pelvis and made its way to his heart. The blood test would determine if that was what had happened. And then we waited some more.

The blood test came back positive.

Jason was then given a CT scan, but no blood clots were found.

I left the room several times so Jason wouldn't witness my worry. The nerves caused me to bite my tongue, and I spent the rest of the night rubbing the sore part againt my teeth. The pain felt good.

Back in the room, the doc returned and said the problem was likely fluid and irritation between the lining of the lungs and the chest wall. He gave Jason a shot of ibuprofin, even though Jason was told not to take ibuprofin with his blood thinners.

And that was it. After several hours of waiting, Jason was sent out the door with essentially a bunch of Advil.

We had already missed most of my birthday party. The trip to the hospital had scared away most guests anyway.

Jason felt guilty and apologized about 4,200 times as we drove home. I told him it's not a real party until someone ends up in the ER. Besides, I always like to be fashionably late, I said.

It was a surprise to find that handful of people remained at the party, and then another handful showed up. We drank champagne and laughed and hugged and talked about how happy we are to have each other, how happy we are to be healthy, how happy we are to be alive.

Happy, happy birthday indeed.

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