That is the answer to the question, "How did your mother die?"
More about that later. So, anyways, there I was, salad finished, still hungry because I have cut way-way-waaaaaaay back on how much I eat since getting that crappy cold six weeks ago. During the first two weeks I had little appetite. Full of mucus leaking out of everywhere. Stuffiness, congestion and a cough that made my lungs ache, or at least the chest and back muscles that support the lungs, or at least outside the rib cage.
That cough hung on and the pain got worse, got better and got worse. It began just over my left lung and/or in my left arm pit. Spread as the days went on. Shoulder, chest and back, under left breast, left neck/jaw/face. I had a test follow-up a month ago and my doctor and I talked about that pain. She said the first thing she thinks of is heart problems, but I had a clear and pretty darn healthy stress test before last year's biopsy. And, I kept insisting that it had to be associated with my lung, the coughing, congesting, mucus plugs, asthma, the whole big, gross thing.
I was wrong.
Thursday last I spent the day at my volunteer job at the food pantry/thrift shop. It was my first day back since I had come down with that cold. I hauled huge black trash bags full of donation clothing, 25/35/40 pound boxes of stuff. Lifted, moved, shoved and pulled. Just everything that we do there.
I went home and had my salad for early dinner because I was hungry and then sat down to read and maybe watch television if I could stay awake that long. I must have drifted off around six-thirty and was woken by that pain that I have been having for six weeks. Only, worse. Maybe the worse pain I have had since giving birth, which was an emergency cesarean begun before the anesthesia took effect. And, yes, I do remember that pain for the bit before I went down.
This was worse. Still, I tried to pace it off until I knew that someone had to give me some pain medication, and fast. So, I tore off my night jammies, pulled on a pair of slacks and a top and grabbed my purse. I could not lift it, so I took my wallet (insurance information inside), keys and drove myself to the emergency room. Not to my hospital, but to one that was closer.
I am not sure about the next half hour, sort of generally, but not many details. The pain eventually went away. Mostly. And, I was asked to stay overnight. My query about going home and coming back the next morning were explained away so that I did stay.
I was worried about the costs and how much it would cost to go home the next day, feeling very foolish, after a day of expensive and pointless testing.
I had all the tests you can imagine and everyone kept saying how great my circulation was and how great all the ultrasound and stress test images looked and the hard copy was great and everything was great.
I went back to my room. My daughter and I chatted about what a head-rush the whole thing was and lots of other stuff. Somehow my wish to move out to the middle of no-where out west came up and I told her that I am still drawn there, and that it might be that my chance to actually move there has passed without me realizing it. It would have been nice to live in that house I found, old but nice, the barns and outbuildings fairly new and in super shape. I could grow my food, raise cattle, chickens and sheep, maybe goats and have lots of dogs, for the simple love of dogs, but also for protection from the wolves and coyotes.
If I had, said my daughter, in the years to come, if someone asked how her mother had died, she would have told them that the wolves ate me and then ate my dogs. We were still laughing when the hospitalist came in and asked how I was. I replied that I was just waiting to be discharged. Then his phone rang and we joked about how you should never get between a doctor and his cell phone. More merriment.
I was wrong, again. He came back and told me that my stress tests looked a bit off and that I was going to meet a cardiologist and have a catheterization that afternoon, or the next morning.
Frankly, all I could think of was how grateful I was that I had not had anything to eat since early evening the day before. Anyway, my daughter left to fetch the boys from school, give them snacks and come back to visit. Half an hour later I had the surgery. Three stents, one in a major coronary artery that was 90% blocked, with the other two close behind.
I am home, fine and feeling that it my daughter had not been there through the whole thing, that the surreality of it all would make it even more unbelievable.
So, now I have a cardiologist. My heart has never been any kind of health concern for me. The rest of my body needs attention, but not my heart. I think the weirdest part is that, having done lots of consulting with Dr. Google (Mayo Clinic, NIH) my diet is fine except for juicy red meat. That is being replaced by more fish, more poultry and ground turkey.
I have an appointment with my internist, one on Tuesday with the cardiac rehabilitation department at not-my hospital, followed by a follow-up with that cardiologist.
Anyway, I feel fine. Without pain for the first time in a long time. No so crazy about being unable to avoid regular exercise. Nope. Not at all. I will not protest or challenge what needs to be done, and it is my hope that it will eventually be less horrible, but I am not liking the prospect very much.
Other than that, everything is cool and groovy, I no longer feel foolish, and that is my story and I am stickin' to it.