So, there I lay in a gurney in the back of an ambulance. The events of the previous 30 minutes seemed to run like a video tape at half speed.It felt like I was having a crazy dream. I mean, get a grip on yourself, Shane. Did you really have slurred speech and nearly fall on your grandson? That answer came far too quickly as the ambulance door shut and everything around me resumed normal speed.
I looked up and saw the EMT, he was putting electrodes on my chest to help track my heart rhythm. As he is doing this, he is trying to keep me engaged in conversation to help keep me at ease. I turned my head to try and look behind me because I could hear that my wife was also in the ambulance. I saw her get in the front of the ambulance but it wasn’t until the back doors closed that things began to sink in a bit. Things, as they say, just got real really fast.
As we were making our way to the hospital, I also realized that I was placed in the wonderful word of medical abbreviations. Mind you, I have worked in hospitals. I served as a US Navy corpsman and worked in several hospitals in the years after my discharge up until I was about 30 years old. The point being; I knew what all the abbreviations meant. Still, I can imagine how it must sounds to someone without such experience would think they were in serious need of a Babel fish to shove in their ear. In short, the EMT did an EKG and prepared to start an IV (set to KVO). He also let me know that as soon as I got to the ER, I would immediately be transported for CT scan to determine if I had a CVA.. In simple layman’s terms, the guy in the back of the ambulance did a trace of my heart rhythm. He then placed a tube in my arm to push fluids (but just enough to keep an open vein), He then informed me that as soon as I got to the emergency room they were send me for a central tomography scan to determine if I had a stroke. Needless to say, the abbreviations took much less time to say the same thing. Considering what had happened to me so far that morning, I appreciate having as much time on my side as possible.
Just as they said, I got to the hospital and was immediately taking to the radiology department for my CT scan. This is also known as a CAT scan so I always have images of a screeching feline being hovered over my head. That didn’t really happen. Instead, they stuck this space helmet on my head and then stuck my head inside this machine which made a bunch of whirring noise. I had hoped I was inside the TARDIS but when the CT scan was done; no River Song in sight. This was getting to be a really exasperating day.
I was then taken to my room in the emergency department where my wife and brother in law were waiting. My wife, Renee, had called her sister to inform her of what had happened. My brother in law, Kevin, came to the hospital right away. It was great to see him. My anxiety level was at an all time high and it meant a lot to have someone keep company for me and my wife.
A short while later, I met with a doctor who asked me the questions I would answer over and over again about what happened earlier that morning. Once that was done, I would be asked to push down on their hands with my feet then pull their hands up with my feet. Then I had to squeeze their fingers with my hands. Then, they would shine a small light and have me follow it with my eyes. Then they would ask me to tell them where I was (Strong Memorial Hospital), in what city (Rochester, New York), the current date (November 20, 2015) , the nemesis of Starchild (Sir Nose D’voidoffunk), the birth name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr) and the original drummer for the Beatles (Pete Best). Okay, they really didn’t ask me for those last three items but it felt like they did given my fatigue, and anxiety. I knew something very wrong happened that morning. We just needed to determine what happened and what damage was caused as a result.
It was then determined that another CT scan was determined. This time they were going to shoot some reagent dye into my body to get more distinct images that may not otherwise show up without the dye. Unfortunately, for reasons that I cannot recall, They put in a second IV line in my right arm to push the reagent dye. They took the fluid that was running in my left arm IV but left the line itself in place. So I now had two IV lines in the crook of each elbow, a space helmet on my head, and more whirring noises. Once again, I searched in vain for River Song. Perhaps some weeping angels detained her.
I was wheeled back to my room and told that another team came to give me a different test but left since I was getting the CT scan done. I was treated to a piece of papier machet on a bun they called “grilled chicken breast”. My kids all came in to check up on me. It was great to see them all. I had not seen my older son, Tom, since his wedding to his new bride, Christy. They even snuck in my grandson, Taelor, for a very brief visit.
If I had not had enough testing, I went in for a MRI. This test uses magnet so you can’t have any metal on you. My belt came off. My glasses came off. I then revealed to the MRI technician that my lower teeth shone like stars (they also come out at night).
I was placed on a sliding table, They placed a restraint over my head to restrict movement during testing. The table then slid me into this tunnel where everything from my head to about my waist was inside. I then endured a series of shrill pulsing noises that ran for about 5 minutes. The only way I could endure it was to count the pulses. One test has 15 pulses then a shrill noise that sounded like a broken dial up modem. In total, this went on for about 25 minutes.
When I got back into my room in the emergency department, the nurse told me that I would be moving up to an inpatient room on the neurology floor. Part of me felt relieved as I had been going at all this for nearly 12 hours at this point. I felt that some downtime was in sight. I would come to find out that the adventure would continue for a bit longer that day. I guess I had hoped that I could sleep and this would all go away when I woke up. Nope! It was still real and ongoing…