First of all, an update for those of you that asked: I am doing quite a bit better this week, and I am back at work more or less full time, not counting visits to various follow-up doctors. For those of you interested in medical details, you can find details on what was going on here. For what it's worth, my EKG didn't even look as nice as that one, it looked more like an epileptic chicken was having a seizure on the graph.
I would like to take this opportunity to give some free survival advice to everyone. One of the quickest ways to end up dead, or at least very, very sick, is to not be able to communicate the correct information to the rescue personnel, and the doctors. This was not my first episode of AF, and I strongly believe the reason I came home in 8 hours rather than 7 days (in ICU, no less) is that I had learned what the problem was and could tell the medical staff exactly what they needed to know. As we say in the repair business, you can't fix it until you know what broke. The first time, having never had any sort of heart problems before, I naturally assumed I was having a heart attack. I wasn't. But when you say 'chest pains' and are old enough and on the heavy side, they take it serious and give you all kinds of drugs immediately to take care of that possibility. Unfortunately for me, that sort of treatment makes my problems worse. Hence, a painful, and expensive, hospital stay.
So, if you want to avoid all of that, here's the thing to do. During your next yearly physical (you do have one every year, right?) find out as much about your condition as possible. Get copies of the reports- especially the blood work. Keep up with your basics, like daily BP, heart rate, etc. You don't have to be a hypochondriac, just put into it as much effort as you do your other daily tasks. Keep these records handy in case you need urgent care. If possible keep a mini version on your person, either with a medic alert bracelet or something similar. Then, if the worst happens, you'll have useful information with you. Of equal importance is being able to give good, accurate information to emergency personnel. I don't know of any short cuts on this, you either know how to communicate or you don't. But a basic first aid class would be time well spent, and if you have a nurse, medical technician, or the like in the family, spend some time finding out how to tell the difference between problems with similar symptoms.
Yeah, not as interesting as 9mm vs. .45 ACP. But it's just as important- perhaps more so. The likely hood of being involved in a firefight on any given day are very small. But your chances of having a medical emergency one day are darn good. It might make the difference between going to the next gun show, or having your widow selling your collection off for what you told her you paid for it... something to think about.
Labels: Survival medical