My Hospital Visit
Posted by Wendy, December 17, 2016
I read somewhere that men and women’s symptoms for heart issues are different. Men suffer crushing chest pains and numbness in their left arm. Women experience varying levels of chest pain radiating up into their jaw. So when I started feeling a soreness in my chest move up north, I paid attention. We were watching a really good Mission Impossible movie and I wanted to see it to the end to ensure that the villain was in fact destroyed and the hero saved the girl and was given his next assignment, “if he choose to accept it.” I then told my spouse about my symptoms, keeping myself calm and my voice low, to not create excitement and high blood pressure for either one of us. I knew once we started making phone calls and got this ball rolling, it couldn’t be stopped.
I had not yet established a relationship with a doctor here at Lakeside. Well there was that one time I picked up a parasite and needed antibiotics and so went to see Dr. Santiago Hernandez, but I hadn’t yet gone through a baseline appointment with any doctor. I had met Dr. Santi at various Rotary lunches and Mexpat mixers, but I certainly wasn’t going to have him for my doctor. He was far too handsome for that. Check out his Facebook page at Chapala Med and you’ll see what I mean. But we didn’t know who else to call at 10:00 pm at night. Ironically, our only vehicle was in the shop getting a tune-up, so we had no means of transportation. Dr. Santi informed us that the EKG that was required could not be performed at Lakeside and we had to go into Guadalajara. He arranged for a driver, who happened to be moments away, and then he would meet us at Holy Trinity Hospital just west of the downtown core. Rob scrambled to gather all the necessary paperwork, ID and overnight things we would need and Alex whisked us away into the night. He drove fast, but steady and carefully and we arrived to the hospital and the waiting doctor by 11:30 ish.
By this time, with all the excitement and jostling in the car, I was beyond sore and moving into ‘this really hurts’. The pain flared several times along my lower jawline and I was starting to get scared, making the situation worse. The good doctor wheeled me into an examination room and had me hooked up to an EKG in moments. He confirmed that there were indeed some irregularities and ordered an angiogram. I was prepped and moved into a surgical room, while the appropriate professionals were gathered.
Although I was not wearing any corrective lenses by this time, couldn’t see much, and not really tuned into a lot of detail, it was impressed upon me how empty the hospital was. In fact, they were turning on lights as we moved down quiet hallways and from empty room to empty room. This is a city of 8 million people. Why was it not full with a lineup out the door? When I asked, I was reminded that this is a private hospital and the locals are not brought here. So very different from the hospitals in Canada. Rob told me later that he was impressed by the newness of the equipment, cleanliness of each room and the quality of care I was getting. There were always at least 5 people around, working, poking, assessing me, all supervised by Dr. Santi.
By the time I was placed on a steel operating table and the onus of the situation was settling in, I was jacked up and going into shock. I was shaking so badly, they couldn’t start the procedure. They asked Rob to come in to talk to me and help me with some deep breathing to calm me down. That didn’t work. So now they to give me ‘a little something’ to calm me down. I think a sledgehammer to the side of my head would’ve been the most effective, but they injected something that worked quite well. If only I could take some home with me.
I have always had ‘thin veins’ as the doctor described it and when we first arrived, the nurse poked me several times trying to find something to work with. Now they needed to access a vein in my other arm for the angiogram. Holy H.E.double.hocky.sticks, that freaking hurt! Admittedly, I have a low threshold for pain. I endured both of my pregnancies by screaming e.p.i.d.u.r.a.l. before going through the doors of the hospital. Most of my dental work was done with a general anesthetic. So I was not prepared for how much this was gonna hurt. I’ve heard of other people enduring an angiogram procedure before, but never heard the part about the level of pain. But when it feels like they are shoving a steel rod up your arm, with a diameter slightly larger than your vein, it is hard to lie still. Mind you, it did take my mind off the pain in my chest. Dr. Santi was right beside me the whole time, literally holding my hand. I couldn’t tell you how long the whole procedure lasted, but we were back in the room by 2:30 am.
In Mexico, family is everything. Everyone is included in everything. When you have a party and invite a few Mexicans, expect them to bring their whole family. When you need blood, you are expected to bring a family member with you to donate, as they don’t have blood banks here. So when someone is hospitalized, the room is large enough to accommodate family. There was a big lounger easy chair in one corner and a couch on the opposite wall with plenty of bedding for family to stay overnight with you. Rob told me later that we had one of the smaller rooms, probably because they knew it was just the two of us. Again, so different from Canada.
The good Dr. Santi told me I had a blockage of 40% in the main artery of the left chamber. He used phrases like, “this is a wake-up call”, and “you’re lucky” and “you have a chance now to make a difference” and “it’s your choice for a better life”. So I am now on meds and some major lifestyle changes under the careful watch of Dr. Santi. My lifetime of bad habits has caught up to me so anything that is fun is not allowed anymore. In fact, they recommend I do things that are the opposite of fun, like walking and eating green food.
But seriously, I have my doctor to thank. Thank you for my wake-up call, thank you for holding my hand and even a thank you for the walking and eating green food.