Saturday, February 27, 2010


Still here at St. Joe's.

Friday morning I had my stress test, the results were ambiguous. So, next step is St. Mike's for the angiogram. In the meantime, I've been moved out of the CCU into a regular ward. And wonder of wonders, I have internet access here!

I spent just over three days in the CCU, tethered to my bed. It was actually not a bad experience but kind of interesting.

Mostly it was pretty quiet, except when the nurses changed shifts, then it was like a party, all the outgoing nurses and incoming nurses exchanging information and just generally chatting and catching up. The three nurses I had most of the time were Leona, Romi and Milada.

Leona settled me in when I first arrived at 2am on Tuesday morning. She said to me, Good it's your heart, that's fixable.

She wore a big Obama button on her chest all of the time. Seeing that made me realize that for all the disappointment some of us have about his lack of achievement or follow-through on promises, he still represents something huge: the first black man to be president of the most powerful country in the world. A whole bunch of Americans just got legitimized.

Leona is from Montserrat, she said when the volcano there became active in the 1990s most of the population moved away, many to the UK (they are British subjects). Leona's family moved to New York and Toronto. Her mother diedin New York last year, and recently she went down to put a marker on her mother's grave, but it was in the middle of the big snowstorm and they couldn't see a thing so they never placed the marker. She says she doesn't want to go down again this year, maybe next year.

Romi greets me every day as "Queen Elizabeth" or "Lady Elizabeth", and the first thing she said to me when I first met her was that my hair was gorgeous. She's a keeper! Unfortunately it was on her advice that I tried that instant hair washing cap, and the results were less than gorgeous. Let's just say that there was too much conditioner in it and leave it at that. Romi is so cheery, and so energetic. She makes you happy just by walking by and smiling at you! When she was on nightshift, she would bring me juice and cookies for a bedtime snack.

Milada was slow to warm up, she has a certain East European reserve, but seeing me knitting quickly broke barriers. She remembered her mother knitting, and learning to knit herself as a young girl. She said she loved it but now with kids and a full-time job she had no time. Perhaps when her kids are grown...

One day a young physiotherapist came into the CCU to see a woman in a bed down the way from me. She spoke loudly, as if the woman were deaf, or slow-witted. Apparently this woman was due to leave but she needed to practice walking as she had been in bed for so long. So the physio wanted to get her up and walking with a walker up and down the CCU.

The woman didn't sound very happy about the prospect. The physio was cajoling and carrying on, eventually getting the woman out of bed and propped up in the walker. They started walking down the hallway toward me and I could see the really sour look on the woman's face. She definitely was not happy about this.

They walked as far as my bed and then turned and went back, the physio helped the woman back into bed. Then she said she would be back the next day to do it again, I heard the woman mutter something.

Finally the physio said her good byes and brightly said, It was nice meeting you!

The woman replied, I can't say the same, and I heard a nurse snicker from the nursing station.

Red-faced, the physio beat a retreat and was never seen again.

I kind of got a kick out of it. Listening later to one of the nurses talking to this woman, it was clear she was neither deaf nor slow-witted, but kind of snippy. They exchanged snippy remarks and then they both laughed.

When I got back from my stress test, Leona said they had found a bed for me on the regular ward and she packed up my stuff and took me over. On this ward I have a roommate, an older Polish woman who fell down one day and couldn't get up, her legs just stopped working. She came to Canada after the war because it was better than going back to Russian-occupied Poland. During the war she and all the other young people in her area of Poland had been rounded up to go work in Germany. Her mother told her, there is nothing here for you anymore, go somewhere nice. So she came to Canada.

My bed is by the window and I have a view of Lake Ontario, just across the Gardiner Expressway from St. Joe's. We have the window open because it is very hot in here, but the highway is noisy and we will probably have to close it tonight just to cut down on the noise.

But the best thing is, I now have a wireless portable heart monitor, I am not tethered to my bed. And, there is a patient lounge with an even better view of the Lake and a TV and tables and chairs and couches. And people. This afternoon I spent a few hours watching a great old movie from the '30s and some Winter Olympics.

My angiogram is scheduled for Monday, so I am here over the weekend. The nurse says they will transport me to St. Mike's for the angio, then bring me back here afterward. I will need to stay another day at least after that. Or longer, depending on the results.

Down the hall is a place where all the readings from all the heart monitors on the floor are displayed. I go down sometimes to see mine, and how it compares with some of the others. They are all so different!

I miss the quiet womb-like atmosphere of the CCU, I felt positively coddled down there. But being able to walk again is great! It is good to be able to go down to the lounge and chat or read or watch TV.


Barbara Anne said...

Hi Anne! Welcome to one step closer to outta there!

I don't know what your symptoms are or were, but after my sweet AMIL (angel MIL) was found to have atrial fibrillation and got a pacemaker, her symptoms of deep fatigue and shortness of breath returned. Come to find out, at age 79 she'd gotten asthma. She had a pulmonary function study in the middle of which they give a breathing treatment. As if by magic, that breathing treatment cured her (until it wore off). If this sounds in any way familiar to you, make them consider asthma. Out of the blue, you can get asthma if AMIL's experience is an indicator. With her cardiac meds and her inhaler, we have AMIL back!

We're elated that Canada has so many gold metals!!!!!

Be well, dear heart! Healing hugs!

Annie said...

Hi Barbara, I'll keep in mind the asthma thing, if they don't find and fix my problem then I'll pursue that angle. It seems like these doctors are all just guessing, and they all have different opinions. They talk as if they know something definite, but it turns out they don't. Here at St Joe's we patients are comparing notes and nothing adds up!

Rain Trueax said...

Wow, isn't that just like life to throw us a curve when we least expect it. I hope you are feeling better soon and get this all fixed.

Wisewebwoman said...

Your hospital stay reminds me of the post on my granddaughter's FaceBook page:
"Speak up! I'm afraid I can't hear you over the sound of my Canadian Universal Health Care System!"
And we are so grateful for it, right when we need it!
I'll be travelling over the next day or so but will keep checking in here.
Stay well, I'm delighted you are reporting life from the St. Jo trenches!