Thursday, March 29, 2007

Heart Attack Funny Stuff

Maybe it's because "if you can't laugh, you'll cry", but a lot of funny things happened during my heart attack saga. Here are a few.....

Queens court veterans know that Justice Goldstein was particularly mean and vicious (that being said - he should rest in peace). In the months just prior to my blessed event, he was particularly abusive to me, and everyone in the courthouse knew it. As I was being wheeled out of the building, one of the courthouse regulars looked at me and said simply "Goldstein??"

When the thing happened, I was with my new associate, Norm. He had been working for me for three weeks, I was showing him the ropes. A few years later I had the pleasure of overhearing HIS version of my heart attack, and I quote......"Well, I had been working for him for about 3 weeks. He looked kinda sick on the subway, and when we got to the second floor of Queens Supreme he collapsed on a bench. People were yelling, get help, he's having a heart attack, and I'm thinking......what the fuck kind of job is THIS?"

When I was in the emergency room at Mary Immaculate there were people lying in the beds around me eating sandwiches. One of the residents told me they were not particularly sick, they were basically there for a meal.

The resident in charge of the emergency room told me that before giving me the clot busting medication called TPA, he was sorry but he had to first do a rectal exam to make sure I wasn't bleeding internally. I said "I'm having a great day so far, let's keep it going."

When I got transferred to LIJ for my procedure, this was not your usual hospital experience. There was no stopping at admissions, no questions about insurance, no prepping, no waiting. When I got there I was taken directly to the procedure room, where the docs were gowned and ready. I looked at Dr. Barry Kaplan and said "No foreplay?" He replied, "When someone is like you are right now, I'm just gonna DO ya." Here's a link to the LIJ cardiology site Dr. Kaplan and Dr. Rosen (who is my cardiologist) are great doctors and fine people.

There wasn't much funny stuff in the cardiac intensive care unit, but I made up for it in the two days I was in a regular room. It was emphasized by doctors, family and friends that I should relax and concentrate on getting better, I must NOT think about the office or worry about law or cases or clients or court. That was fine with me. The first night in a regular room I couldn't sleep. The truth is, and I have heard this is very common, I was afraid if I slept I would not wake up. So I sat in a chair next to the bed, reading. Up until that point I had not seen or heard from a nurse. This is in stark contrast to intensive care, where every nurse was familiar with your case, they monitored everything, they were the most caring and respectful people I had ever seen. At around 4 A.M., as I was reading, a male nurse walked in. He introduced himself as "Troy Johnson....Capricorn". I said "Hi, nice to meet you." He said "What did ya, have a heart attack?" "Yeah, five days in the CCU". He said, "I heard you are a lawyer, what kind of law do you do?" "General practice" Whereupon Troy Johnson (Capricorn) pulled up a chair, sat down next to me and said "I do some private home care nursing with some friends of mine, like a side business, do you think we should incorporate?" Then, I asserted myself in the most powerful way I could think of and said "I feel really tired and need to go to sleep".

The next day I left my room for awhile for some kind of test. When I was brought back to my room, I heard violent coughing coming from the next bed. I know a person cannot literally cough their lungs out, but this cougher was going for it. I asked the day nurse who my new neighbor was. She said he was a 90 year old man with pneumonia, just brought over from the nursing home, been coughing continuously since he got here. I then made my next big assertive move. I went over to the nursing station and said "Listen, not only am I not sleeping in that room tonight, I'm not walking back in there to get my stuff. I want a new room, and I want my stuff brought to the new room." I usually wouldn't send back cold soup at a restaurant, but I felt empowered by my handling of Troy Johnson (Capricorn), and realized that sometimes, you DO have to protect yourself.

So I got a new room with a nice man named Mr. Perry. We talked, we watched TV together, we made fun of the food, it was like college. That night at midnight, a resident woke me from a sound sleep and said "Wake up, we need you to sign a release for bypass surgery" I said the first thing that came to mind....."No fucking way!" He said, "But we can't do the surgery if you don't sign". Now that I was wide awake I asked him "WHO are you here to see?" He said "Aren't you Mr. Perry?" I then got out of bed, walked over to the nurses station, and said to the nurse "Can you do me a favor? Either fix the signs on the door, or teach these doctors to read, because if MY line goes flat, I don't want you to jump start Mr. Perry."

A few months later I went back to the hospital for a stress test. Question -- if you get stuck in traffic and are late for the stress test, can you skip the treadmill and consider yourself pre-stressed and ready for testing? When I completed that first stress test, the doctor gave me a high five. I bet that's not in the manual.

In my wallet I had a card from my haircutting place. Every time I went, they stamped it, so on the 10th time, you get a free haircut. I had 9 haircuts on my card when the blessed event happened. After going home, my first trip outside was for a haircut. When it came time to pay, I showed them my card. They said "Hey, you made it."

Damn right.

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