Today, the 28th of November, marks a year since I began slipping in and out of what would be described to me as a diabetic coma. I thought I'd get myself checked out before this anniversary, just to see what, if anything, has changed about my diabetes. I became increasingly frightened about the possibilty of being laid up for another ten days or more should I pass out again, even though I've been feeling perfectly fine. So, for one of the few times in my life, I made an appointment for a physical with my doctor for Wednesday, November 19. During the physical, I told the doc that I had a slight pressure in my chest for the past week that would start and stop very briefly. It would last for a few seconds and disappear. This happened only a few times in the previous week, but, hey, I might as well tell my doc, right? It can't be anything serious. After two electrocardiograms, my doctor thought it would be safe to have me checked out at the hospital-the very same hospital I was in a year ago for ten days.
This time I was only there for six days.
I go in for a simple check up and end up lying around a hospital for six days with a needle in the back of my wrist so they can tap my blood at a whim like a beer keg. I was in no pain at all-just a headache I would get because I was furious at being in a hospital again a year later, only this time I felt perfectly fine. I spent several hours in an emergency room listening to old people crying for help and some guy screaming in pain. I was really getting upset. And the nurses paid no mind to these people. I made a note to look up the Hypocratic Oath when I got out. After a night in the Observation room with quieter emrgency patients where I did not sleep a wink, I was given a room with a very loud snoring roommate. Yeah, my week was working out fine.
After a Thursday of lying around, Friday morning I saw a cardiologist who wanted to put a catheter through an artery in my arm to look into my heart and see if I had any clogged arteries. He assured me it was painless and would only take about a half hour. I had to sign a consent form and, on my way back to my room, my chest felt really heavy. It was the first real discomfort I'd had all month. But an hour later, another doctor came to my room and, after talking to me, felt that the catheter was too invasive a procedure. Instead he wanted to put me on a treadmill to give me a stress test then take pictures of my heart. That would happen on Monday which meant a weekend of snoring, hospital food and no sleep. How anyone sleeps in a hospital is beyond me, with all the nurses in and out of my room taking blood pressure at three in the morning, and taking my blood sugar for my diabetes. One of my friends brought me some books so at least I was able to keep my brain occupied.
On Monday, I burned the treadmill and afterwards they shot some chemicals into my veins. Then I was taken to nuclear medicine-that's right:"NUCLEAR MEDICINE"-where they took pictures of my entire chest cavity with one of the biggest, scariest cameras I'd ever seen. The camera hummed like one of the War of the Worlds spacecraft (the Spielberg version) and it took fifteen minutes to complete. Immediately after, I was ushered back to my room where I was told I couldn't leave all day. They put a sign on my door warning pregnant women and children to stay at least a meter from my bed. This concerned me. My doctor saw me soon after and confirmed that, yes, I was radioactive. He told me this while keeping a very safe distance and said I may be able to leave Tuesday after my tests came back. So I'm laying in my bed all day Monday worrying if my hair would start falling out and watching as visitors of other patients peered into my room to look at me, the radioactive man. Oooh, he's scary! Stay back kids!
Well, I got through to Tuesday and my doc said he was right about not having the catheter done. My heart was fine, but I needed my diabetes medicines adjusted. He just gave me a new prescription and said I could leave. After asking him if I was "safe", he chuckled and said I'm okay. I thanked him, shook his hand, and I do not remember ever dressing as fast as I did to leave that hospital. I said goodbye to all the pretty nurses who were surprised that I was leaving. (I would love to see them again, but NOT in a hospital.)
This anniversary check up taught me a good lesson: hospitals are for sick people. And I vow never to be sick again. Sick in the head, sure. But that goes with the job of being an adult illustrator. And I won't even bring up what the treatment is for that.