The Yoga Teacher's Heart Attack
Chapter 7: Hero PCP to the Rescue
I adore that he’s got the umph in him to execute on a plan.
At home, I read through my ER discharge papers.
In addition to the instructions of “work on lowering BMI,” which is just politically-correct-sounding words that mean “we think you are tubby and you should stop shoving cookies in your piehole,” I see that Dr. Dursley has included kale salad recipes.
That’s a nice touch, Dursley.
Page nine, blurred at the top, lists troponin as 0.15. Hmm.
EKG lists a first degree AV block and a nonspecific longword longword delay. Seems like, as a non-medical person, that “block” and “delay” popping up on an EKG would be a red flag. Right? Especially since the nurse wasn’t able to get all the leads on.
EKG small print says “EKG shows abnormal heart rhythms.”
And before I can even let that sink in, at the very bottom is bloodwork that’s highlighted because it is elevated.
“Huh, I wonder what this troponin thing is? Hon, did anyone say anything that sounded like trip-on-in?”
Too tired to even google that new word, we head up to Kirkland and am seen by Dr. Kate, who I adore almost as much as I adore Dr. Vivian.
I show her the discharge papers.
She looks alarmed. And mad. And concerned.
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“First off, you are not prediabetic. Blood sugar of 138 is perfectly normal.”
I hand her the stack of discharge papers and Dr. Kate is also alarmed at the salad recipes printout. She confers with Dr. Vivian by phone, in the hallway, sounding as alarmed as I felt.
Dr. Kate says the important thing is to get me in to see a cardiologist.
She writes a name on a piece of paper, and underneath the referral she writes "You are not prediabetic!!” in call caps. Oh, how I needed to hear that. And see that, in black and white.
Dr. Kate warns me that this cardiologist is in high demand and is often booked out a couple of weeks.
"Weeks? I have to wait weeks to see someone about a heart thing? What if I, you know… die… between now and then?"
To which Dr. Kate replies: "You won’t. And he's totally worth the wait."
Dr. Kate was right: Dr. WorththeWait was booked out two weeks. Surely I can stay alive for fifteen more days, right?
Which reminded me: OMG, I had my Moth GrandSLAM at Seattle Town Hall on March 30th. That would totally suck to die before I get to play to a big house like Town Hall.
The next day, I’m still droopy, but I’m getting hot under the collar about Dr. Dursley and Close Hospital. Pen is mightier than the sword, right? Right!
I’ll admit that I’m obsessive when crafting my top-shelf fuck-you letters, but not this time. This time I'm just mad and appalled. I write to their customer care department, explaining the crushing chest pain and the abnormal EKG and the wires on the EKG that kept falling off and I end with:
"Isn't is just weird that I had an abnormal EKG and I presented with cardiac symptoms and the doctor looked me in the eye and said my heart was perfectly normal?"
Weird wasn't a great word choice by a long stretch, but it was less combative sounding than "fucked up" and "malpractice-ish."
What’s weirder Close Hospital actually replied. By phone, even.
The very next day, I get a call from a self-described “patient advocate.” She's all Honeybutter voice, and starts off by saying "Before we review any details, let's get to what is important: how are you?"
To which I reply, "Well, I'm alive, which is good news for you people. If I do die, though, I've given my husband very clear instructions on making sure that he lets you know of my untimely demise. Also, if I die between now and March 30th when I perform to a sold out crowd at Seattle Town hall, then that is more bad news for you people.”
And even with that opening salvo of mine (Snaps! I said what I was thinking and I didn't repress!) Honeybutter informs me that she had reviewed my records and noted that I had gone to urgent care in the summer of 2016 with chest tightness and shortness of breath. And that the EKG had been abnormal then as well. And, yes, she agreed that it is weird that I would go to their Close Hospital twice in eight months, register an abnormal EKG and not be told of said abnormalities. TWICE.
Ah, yes, I had forgotten about the summer of 2016. I was in my new job at the 911 center and had been sent to a week-long training on a college campus. We were housed on the 3rd floor in the college dorms. The elevators were horribly slow, so I started to dash up the stairs, only to be completely out of breath by the 2nd floor. So out of breath that I had to stop and lean against the wall.
And, yes, now that Honeybutter reminded me, I did go to urgent care with chest pain and shortness of breath in the summer of 2016 and was diagnosed with dehydration. (Have I mentioned? I taught hot yoga for 12 years. If there’s one thing I’m a queen of, it’s hydration. So that was sort of a junk diagnosis. Just sayin’.)
I had long had issues with stairs. Bikes, dragon boating, hot yoga, even light jogging … I’d very rarely feel any sort of shortness of breath. Stairs and hills? Every single time.
But the dorm stairs episodes were troubling because I was also getting clammy and sweaty ten steps in. While I did have seizures as a child and spent my fair share of time in medical settings … The concept of a heart problem felt super foreign and super scary.
I made a conscious decision to not obsess over Dr. WorththeWait. I made an equally conscious decision to make an intelligent list of questions for the doctor and then put my faith into God and Ganesh to provide me with the healing I needed.