Stressed Spelled Backward...

It’s been a rough week, between dad being in the hospital, receiving bad news and having myself end up in the same hospital due to stress. Our family has been overloaded with an extreme amount of stress, anxiety and sadness lately. Seeing our father, aka “Superman” wither away from his illness and lack of will from hearing the worst news of all from the doctors, we’ve all been handling our stress in various ways. We also have in the back of our minds that mom may be affected by all this stress too, so we’re trying to do our best to ‘keep it all together’ for her, and somehow, it just winds up a big chaotic scene. We all love one another so much and so scared to see our own family break apart, either by arguments, or worse off, death. I can only speak for myself and say that this huge change of events has me in a constant state of turmoil. With a million emotions going through my system while getting ready to see dad and the family at the hospital, I finally shut down on Monday morning. My last tweet before I got bombarded with mind blowing chest pains was, “Special for the Day: Horse tranquilizers.” And boy I wasn’t kidding. I quickly grabbed a glass of water thinking it was just indigestion. It still persisted. I put ice on my forehead and the back of my neck. It still was there. This must have been the tenth 911 call I have made within the past six months. “Oh it’s Deb!”

The EMS came in a humungous rescue truck - almost the size of a tractor trailer. The guys brought me out into the tank-like truck and hooked me up to an IV and placed nitro under my tongue with three baby aspirins. As we’re doing 90 mph on the highway to get to the hospital, they were sticking the EKG wires on me. While listening to everything they were saying while lying on the gurney, the one EMT guy said, “Yep, she responded positive to the nitro.” I thought that was a good thing. Apparently, if you respond positive to the nitro, it’s the heart. I asked the guy if I was having a heart attack, and he said, “Well, the EKG looks fine, but we can’t go by that right now. We have to treat it as a heart attack until the doctor tests you.” Then he went on to say, “You women are complicated. You can have a stomach ache and it may be a heart attack. Men know for sure they’re having one.” The two men were both making me laugh on the way up there, while my chest pains were seemingly diminishing, which scared me because the nitro was helping. After a slew of blood work, chest x-rays and being poked and prodded every which way, the doctor came in and said he wanted to keep me in for observation. My sisters rushed downstairs from dad’s room to come and waste time watching me deal the best I can to stress. They all agreed that I should stay. ...And I did.

Things started to get comical, as they admitted me into my dad’s old room. I told my father, “Wow dad, this is like a 5 star joint - I’m jealous.” I guess I got what I wished for. I asked my mom and my sisters not to tell dad where I was. I didn’t want to stress him out any more than he was. But that night was the most awful sleep I have ever had. Between being woken up every two hours for blood work and being pricked with some shot in my stomach so my legs don’t clot, it was absolutely hell. My left arm had a botched up IV in it that was turning into a hematoma. I asked the nurse if this looked normal to them, and they said, “Yeah it’s fine.” One nurse came in and gave me like ten different pills, one of them being a stool softener. That was fun. I hadn’t eaten anything since 7am that morning and couldn’t eat the awful salmon they tried to give me in the evening. They told me I was not allowed to drink or eat anything until my tests were done. By the next morning, between no sleep, dehydration and no food in my system, they carted me off to my stress test. Immediately, one of the nurses gasped at my botched up IV and started to remove it so she could put another one into my arm. As I watched her do this, (cause I can handle watching any medical procedure, so I thought) I saw blood flying into the air and my vein out and exposed. All I remember was that the room started to brighten up to where I couldn’t see anymore and hearing the nurse scream, “She’s going vasovagal!!! Hurry! She’s going vasovagal!!!” I seriously thought I was having a stroke and listening to a whole other language. Never heard that term in my life.

When I woke up, there was a 6 foot something transgender woman standing above me while they put me on a bed slanting me upside down. She was screaming, “Think dirty thoughts! It’ll get yer’ blood pumpin’ in all the right areas ya dirty girl you!” I really thought I was dreaming, but there she was again saying the most frig’d up things to get my to wake up. ...And it worked. As they were juicing me up for electrolytes and trying to get my blood pressure and heart rate back to normal, the doctor ordered one of those medicine induced stress tests. I piped in, “No! I don’t want that! I’ll run on the treadmill! I’m fine!” They all looked at one another in fear, and within 15 minutes, I was running and getting my heart rate up to 165. Upon the final minutes of running, they juiced me up with nuclear medicine so they could see my “glowing heart” in their x-ray. As they wheeled me out into the waiting room, they literally placed me in a circle of probably ten or so 90 year olds who had just gotten their stress tests done sitting in their own wheel chairs. We were all facing one another like psyche ward patients in our backless gowns...staring at one another. Not one of them said one. word. at. all. I can’t tell you how awkward and creepy it was. After my echocardiogram and other tests being done, I felt slimy from all the gunk they had put on me. When I went back to my room, I wanted to shower asap, but the nurse wouldn’t let me because I was hooked up to a holter monitor. They gave me stuff to wash up with. I still felt icky.

I must have laid there in that bed for another ten hours watching Dr. Oz, stupid court shows and recycled news. I did make a very interesting observation though... During the evening hours, the nurses are drop dead gorgeous. When morning came, the nurses seemed to all look like Berta from Two and a Half Men. I guess seniority rules the hours. While rotting in my bed, my sisters came in to visit me and laughed hysterically over being in my father’s old room. I was getting text messages from one of my sisters showing me photos of mom and dad which were comical. But as you can see in this one photo, dad’s weight has dropped dramatically. After my sisters left, I was lying there alone and started crying. I felt bad for ending up in the hospital while I should have been there for dad. I started to think how different life would be without my father and how sad my mom would be not having her best friend around. She admitted that she couldn’t sleep without him and coffee wasn’t the same in the morning without him there to make it the way she liked it. All these little things just broke my heart and tears just started falling. One of the nurses came in to check my vitals and noticed me sobbing in my bed. She sat right next to me and asked what was wrong. She listened to every word and tried comforting me.

When I got home that night I crashed so hard that I could barely wake up the next morning. My legs were burning from these unnecessary cholesterol pills they had given me and my entire body was bruised from the IVs and all the other poking & prodding that was done to me. Dad came home the same day as well. He asked where I was though. My sister told him I was in his old room at the hospital and then said, “She’s okay, dad. She was jealous you were getting the 5 star treatment.” When I got discharged, the nurse said that I was stable enough to go home, and that the doctors would talk to me about what they have found, or what they didn’t find. But good news is: it wasn’t a heart attack. Now I can focus on dad and hopefully lift his spirits somehow. He said he couldn’t sleep because he’s afraid of not waking up.

I just really pray that my family pulls together and not apart during this time. We’re just so stressed out and sad over this, that we’re already grieving about something that has not happened as of yet. We’re all worried about mom’s stress level and her continued smoking (which is what brought on my dad’s cancer cause he was a big time smoker), and trying just to keep our heads together the best we can. I know death is inevitable and you can’t stop that from happening to anyone. But what use is it to have tension between family members when the primary focus should just be on the one who is ill? “This one isn’t doing enough”, “That one isn’t contributing equally”, “Oh now Deb’s sick too?” --- So this is my message to my family: Remember when I said I passed out from that “vasovagal attack”? Well it’s a fact that some people are only capable of “handling” so much at one time. Others can do it without blinking. If I can only do A. B. and C. and you’re able to do D. E. F. G. & H., realize that each of us handles stressful situations differently. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to be there. It’s only what we can handle at that particular time. I don’t feel that I’m a “weak person” for having to be hospitalized for stress. I have been there every single day for mom and dad, helping out in various ways, whether it be taking mom grocery shopping, staying with her at night, going up to see dad every day of his stay (until I got sick myself), cleaning, cooking for them and taking out the garbage - things they weren’t able to do. I have my own part and I appreciate yours. Don’t compare me to you or what you have done. It should be a team effort without conflicts or arguments. We should be pulling together and not tearing out each other’s jugulars. We should be grateful we all have one another as sisters and have wonderful spouses that are there for us when we need a break from it all. And just because I shut down from stress does not mean “I hate myself” as someone so arrogantly put, it means I’m having a hard time, just like you.

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.” ~George F. Burns

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