Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Heartburn -- Terrible Tuesdays with Travis

Well folks I have a dilemma. I could tell the tale I intended to tell for this week's terrible Tuesday, but ... it is a bit unbelievable and apparently I've already stretched the line of credibility this week. Even my old friend Jason questioned the validity of my most recent ref story, but to his credit he did do some research and provide a link in the comments that backed my story up. I wish I had made that one up cause I'm telling you it certainly was not fun at the time.

So will all of you yell bullshit and flee if I offer up another hard to believe story. I hope not because that is what I'm giving you. By the way if you are in a hurry you might want to skip down to the **************. The first part is what we call backstory in fiction.

Unlike previous Terrible Tuesday stories this one was not brought on by any stupid acts of myself. Karmically (is that a word) speaking I must have done something real bad for things to turn out the way they did. But of course, it could have been worse. I am alive to blog about the gory details.

It all started with a tennis match. A tennis match in which wife, well technically speaking she wouldn't become my wife for another three years, was kicking my butt handily. The longer we played the worse I felt. Both mentally and physically. Finally after about an hour I told her I had to stop because I felt funny. My heart was pounding against my rib cage like a dryer full of shoes. I chalked it up to being out of shape since I had been working at the post office about a year by then and we all know nothing is easier than government work.

One hour went by. Then two, three, and four. Yet my heart was still pounding as if I'd just ran a mile. Finally six or seven hours later it quit, but the incident scared me.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. The Texas swing band, Asleep at the Wheel was playing at a local bar but my wife wasn't twenty-one yet. So I borrowed an ID from a girl who like a smidgen like her and lo and behold it worked and the bouncer let her in. Then we ran into an old boyfriend of hers who promptly told the management that she wasn't of age and then escorted her out.

Now me being the "friendly" guy I am, I told Jennifer to wait in the truck for me while I ran in to say "goodbye" to the fellow who ratted her out. Now I'll tell the truth here the guy had something wrong with him, he walked with a limp and weighed about a buck fifty so it wasn't all that bold of me to confront him. And all I really did was grab him by the shirt and raise his body a foot or so off the ground. Just to get his attention. I could have done more, but what was the point. I just wanted to let him know what i though of his ways. Then I left. Closely followed by about six guys that management had sent to get my attention.

Now I was mad and again my heart was racing. Only this time it was hammering my chest like a boxer's blows on a speed bag. A couple of hours went by and this time i decided to visit the emergency room. Now you could see my heart thudding along through my shirt so they took me straight to the back and hooked me to a machine. My heart rate was TWO HUNDRED and SIXTY something a minute. Better that four beats a second.

And then they started grilling me about what kind of drugs I'd taken. I answered question after question while they took a blood sample. When was the last time I did cocaine. Never. Heroin? never. Amphetamines. Never. If I remember right I hadn't even been at the bar long enough to have a drink. Finally they seemed to believe me. Maybe the blood came back clean I don't know but they gave me a shot which slowed my heart almost immediately.

I'll spare you the medical detail, but six months or so went by with several more of these incidents and trip to the ER before a doctor diagnosed the problem. I had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Which in layman's terms is a short circuit in heart.

The condition is totally curable by a procedure called ablation where doctors go in through the main artery in your groin and use some kind of laser to burn away the tissue that is causing the problems. At the time I had this done the procedure was new. Matter of fact I was the first person to have ablation after FDA approval which sounds cool but in reality means I was the first person to have to pay for the procedure since it had been experimental up until then.

Okay I've told you all of that to get to the part consider to be a truly terrible Tuesday, actually he surgery was on Thursday but at least that starts with a T.

**** START HERE IF IN A HURRY **************

So there I am laying stark naked on a cold table while a hoard of people gather round. They put the mask over my face and tell me count backward from ten. Then I drift off to sleepy land.

Sometime later I hear voices. I open my eyes. Things are blurry but I can tell there is a bright light shining in my face and I see shadowy figures moving about. I hear my doctor's voice. Understand his words. He seems very intense, like he is still working so I say, "Am I supposed to be awake?"

His nurse tells me that I'm not really awake. It's just (insert strange medical term, which I have long since forgotten here) and I will not remember any of this later on.

I bit of time passes and again I say, "Are you sure I'm not awake. Cause I feel like I'm awake."

At this the doctor begins asking me questions. My name. Age. Telephone number. what day of the week it was. It was your basic bedside sobriety check. I answer them all correct and I hear him tell the anaesthesiologist to give me so much of this and more of this.

Then I felt a tickle inside my chest and I say. "That feels funny. What are you doing?"

The doc asks me to describe what I feel. when I do he give the anaesthesiologist more orders, only with more urgency.

Then all hell broke loose. Suddenly I felt an intense burning inside my chest and I screamed with pain. Shortly thereafter all went black again, but they were wrong remember all of it to this day.

When the surgery was over the doctor came out to talk to my family his first words were, "We are finished, everything went well and Travis is very strong and he knows some strong language as well."

I don't remember this part but apparently I got very angry and put up a hell of a fight before I finally succumbed to the morphine and what not kicked in. The worst part of the ordeal is I ends up overdosing on morphine and to this day I cannot take the drug without become violently ill.

The good news is that was almost fifteen years ago and I've never had another problem. And it has been medically proven that yes, I do indeed actually have a heart.


alex keto said...

As far as I know, peoples' hearts blow up at 260 beats a minute. That is even faster than an infant is supposed to be able to stand and their hearts are made out of old pieces of rubber chicken. You're lucky to be around.

Travis Erwin said...

My heart rate got went on a dozen or so trips were it ranged from 190 something to the upper 260's.

jjdebenedictis said...

As far as I know, peoples' hearts blow up at 260 beats a minute.

As the doctor said, Travis is very strong. :-)

JasonScottAdams said...

I just Googled this and found that Travis was actually kidnapped by aliens while travelling down the back roads late one night.
The fast heart rate was due to the side effects of the probe. Or maybe this is my poor attempt at humor. You make the call. Who's story is more believable?

Oh wait.. Travis WALTON.


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Thank goodness you are strong and got it early. I totally believe this story, especially about the anesthesia not working. My good friend's anesthesia completely wore off in the middle of her c-section and she felt everything. And the last time I was in the hospital with a serious condition, I had a very bad reaction to morphine also.

Rosie said...

The whole heart thing has me scratching my head and saying...hmmmmmm. Morphine=bad. They gave me morphine after my hysterectomy and I got violently ill too. NEVER want to do that right after abdominal surgery. It was awful. TMI?

Angie said...

Yikes! Don't you just love when the medical types won't believe you? :/ I'm glad you came out of it OK. I'm sure the doctors deserved whatever it was you were bellowing at them. Good grief.


Duck said...

Holy cow, another crazy story from you. Sounds like you got the crappiest anesthesiologist ever. "you're not really awake" Wow. Congrats on surviving that ordeal. My heart's done a similar trick a few times (as well as literally skipping a beat here and there), and it scares the hell out of me every time. The heart pounding bit hasn't happened for over ten years though, so I chalk it up to puberty and crap...

Oh, and I enjoyed the dryer full of shoes bit. I'm envious of your ability to come up with analogies. I'm as bad at coming up with analogy as someone who's really bad at coming up with analogies. See?

David said...

Since doctors are always right about everything, it must be the case that you don't remember what happened during the surgery.

As for what you think you remember ... Um, I haven't figured that part out yet.

WordVixen said...

Every single member of my family has had something similar to this happen to them. My brother and I during surgeries, and my parents pre-surgery. Although, technically, my mom's was a delayed reaction as the anesthesia didn't kick in until after she got home. None of us have ever forgiven the nurses and doctors who smiled condescendingly while telling us that we won't remember a thing. BS.

My brother is now an RN and my mother is getting her LPN in December- hopefully they'll remember those situations and not say anything so stupid to their patients.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say Travis was lucky. Is still lucky.

Sure make fun of a guy who had a rodeo accident and ended with a limp and that is not all there. When I dated him he was all there and did not have a limp. You are so mean. Heart.

Anonymous said...

I have watched him work for a few years now and I can guarantee a high heart rate is not a problem for him now. Wasnt there a terrible shaving accident somewhere in this story? Seems like there was...