Evelyn and I departed after the youth choir’s spaghetti dinner at church Sunday for a quick vacation trip with my sister and brother-in-law in Virginia. Here’s a brief account.
We departed about 1:00 p.m. on Sunday and arrived in Massanutten, VA about 7:30 p.m. We settled in for the first night.
I awoke about 4:00 a.m. Monday morning with tightness in my chest that reminded me way too much of the atrial fibrillation episodes I had last May and again in January. About 4:30 a.m. I took two tablets of the beta blocker that I have been carrying around with me since the first episode last May. I waited about 30 minutes and took two more tablets following my doctor’s instructions, after which I was supposed to go to the emergency room if the symptoms didn’t disappear. Since the January episode had taken just a little longer for the medication to kick in and stop the atrial fibrillation, I decided to wait a while longer before awakening the rest of our group. Meanwhile, I researched the location of the nearest emergency room, which turned out to be Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg.
I awoke Evelyn about 5:30, and we began to get dressed to go to the emergency room. We awoke my sister and brother-in-law as we were ready to depart (my brother-in-law, by the way, is a physician; and although he is a GI specialist, it was good to have him around).
We arrived at the address given in the phone book for the hospital and discovered it was a clinic that was not open yet. Fortunately a nurse was arriving for work, and she directed us to the new hospital that just opened last summer.
A very efficient emergency room staff took us immediately into a room and began to work on me. For the rest of Monday, the staff tried to get my blood pressure down, hoping to get my heart back into sinus rhythm. Controlling the blood pressure was easy, and frankly I worried that it was getting too low. Around 5:00 p.m., the doctors decided to give me another round of beta blockers; and if that didn’t work by 6:30, they would give me an anti-arrhythmia medication. About 7:30, I sent Evelyn back to the resort for the night and told her I would call to let her know about the outcome. Shortly before 9:00, I called to tell her that nothing had changed. I broke off the call when the nurse came in. He informed me that my heart had “converted” to sinus rhythm about five minutes earlier. I called Evelyn back with the good news.
I had a very restless night Monday night. The hospital bed was uncomfortable; I was awakened frequently for monitoring my blood pressure, drawing blood, replacing IVs, etc. By Tuesday morning I was exhausted, but at least my heart was back in rhythm. The rest of the day the doctors tried to decide what to do about my condition. We finally decided that a heart catheterization was called for to see if the cause of the trouble could be located. That procedure was conducted mid-afternoon on Tuesday and also revealed no cause for the problem. Around 6:00 p.m. I was released from the hospital with two prescriptions in hand. One is for the same beta blocker medication that I have been carrying around with me for most of the last year. The other is for the anti-arrhythmia medication that was used to get my heart back in rhythm.
Many of us who live in Jefferson County, Tennessee, are very proud of the Jefferson Memorial—St. Mary’s Hospital, which has been rated in the top 100 hospitals in the nation for the last three years. I want to tell you that Rockingham Memorial Hospital was equally exceptional in every way. They have a new facility that opened last July, which is wonderful. The doctors, nurses, and all the staff were genuinely concerned, focused, and dedicated to making the situation as comfortable as possible for me. I felt like I was being cared for by family and friends. And speaking of family, I could never say enough about my wife and the care and support she gives me constantly. Thanks also to my sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Jerry Spenney. They are the best!
The Lord has watched over me, with my being in a good place at an appropriate time. I’m back to feeling “normal” today, so now the vacation can begin—but with my “emergency” medications in my pocket, of course!