The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Before the “event”, Zung was the healthiest person I knew. He rarely got stressed, he worshipped regularly at the altar of exercise and he ate a reasonable diet. His age of 61 and his male gender were the only risks he had for a heart attack. He had a check up within the last year. We had no concerns about his health.

Lesson # 4 – Be prepared for the unexpected, (because something like that can’t possibly happen to us)

Zung is also not a drama king, so for him to awaken me at 4 am because he didn’t feel good was significant.

Lesson # 5 – the unusual is always significant when you’re talking about medical stuff (I know this because of my medical background as a nurse).

(And while I AM an RN and have been for a really, really long time – we really don’t need to get into specifically HOW long — I am a Lactation Consultant and while I can talk a good “Yes, I am medical” game, it’s still pretty foreign territory for the most part).

“I don’t feel good.” (Z)

Okay, wake up, on alert — “What’s wrong?” (A)

“What does heartburn feel like?” (Z)

((Crap)) — double parentheses means I’m thinking this in my head, but not saying it out loud. Calmness is important. “It can really be painful.” (A). ((It is also a symptom of a heart attack))

I’d had heartburn before that was fairly excruciating. I was voting for a good old case of heartburn. Because it couldn’t be his strong heart. I did mention how healthy he was? I checked his pulse. It felt strong and normal. See? Not his heart, because surely someone having a heart attack wouldn’t have a strong, normal pulse.

I got up and looked in my bag of homeopathic remedies and gave him some Nux Vomica which is great for over eating and drinking. Clearly that’s what was going on. Definitely not anything with his strong heart.

He asked if maybe we should call a doctor. I remember feeling irritated with him and saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know how bad you feel.” But I knew that he would ask such a thing meant he probably felt pretty damn bad and I picked up the phone and told the hotel operator my husband was having chest pain and needed a doctor.

That’s another “medical insider tip”, use the right words. Heartburn won’t draw as quick a response as chest pain.

The Iberostar Paraiso has a medical clinic on site and a doctor available 24 hours a day. The dr called back quickly and asked if Zung could come to the clinic. Zung replied he was dizzy. ((Crap! Heartburn doesn’t make you dizzy)) He said he would come to the room and would probably send Zung to the hospital for an EKG.

“It’s probably nothing, but better safe than sorry.” (Me to Z).

Then Zung did a very, very unusual thing for him (TMI warning). He vomited. This man has not every vomited the entire time I have known him (over 30 years) and I thought to myself that this was something people do when they are having a heart attack and my level of terror went up a few notches.

I called the front desk again and said the dr hadn’t arrived yet and I was VERY concerned about my husband. I went out into the hall because it felt like it was taking forever. In reality it was not more than ten minutes. There was a security guard walking down the hall across the courtyard and I motioned and said, “It’s here.” The doctor was coming up the stairs with another couple of security guards. He had a big bag of stuff with him, including oxygen. He hooked Zung up to a machine that showed his vital signs. His pulse was 60 and his oxygen saturation was 99%. How can you be having a freaking heart attack with vitals like that?

The doctor gave him aspirin, which can be life saving and I am so thankful that he knew to do that. He was asking Zung about how he was feeling and Zung casually mentioned he had taken eight Tums.

“Eight?!!!!” (A – incredulous. He has never taken Tums).

The doctor called an ambulance and put oxygen on Zung and we waited for the ambulance. And waited. And waited. It took about 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. The ambulance experience did not inspire any confidence. The wait was long, and that ended up being the best part.

I let the kids know what was happening, reassuring them it was probably nothing, but better safe than sorry. They cam in to give him hugs and he said, “Oh well, it looks like I can’t go out to get chairs at the beach for us.” Seriously, it can’t be his heart if he is making jokes, right?

The ambulance finally got there. They put him on a backboard, strapped him in and proceeded to carry him down the stairs HEAD FIRST.

((We are so screwed))

We were on the second floor and the Lindo does not have elevators.

Susie wanted to go to the hospital with us, but they would only let one person ride in the ambulance and there was no way I was letting her get into a taxi in the middle of the night and go to Cancun. The doctor was sending Zung to the hospital in Cancun (Hopiten Cancun) which was 40 minutes away, instead of Hospiten Playa del Carmen which was 25 minutes away because the hospital in Cancun is bigger.

The ambulance dudes put the backboard onto a stretcher and put him in the ambulance. One of the ambulance dudes spoke enough English to communicate with us, for which I was very grateful because at the time we only knew enough Spanish to say please, thank-you, how are you, and very well.

One of them started an IV and I got really worried because he didn’t wear gloves (universal precautions anyone?) and he put the bloody needle on the bench beside him and I watched it roll back and forth as we made our way to Cancun. He put an EKG monitor on him and they had one of those Automated External Defibrillators. He listened to his chest with a stethoscope, which was bogus because those ambulances are noisy and you can’t hear a thing. I watched Zung for signs of increasing discomfort and it was obvious he was having more pain. I asked him about it and he said it was his back from being on the back board. I asked the ambulance dudes if they could take him off of that and when they did he felt a lot better.

Except for that chest pain thing. That was till there.

And we finally arrived at the hospital.

Lesson # 6 – bring a credit card with a BIG limit.

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One Response to The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

  1. Deb B says:

    Holy crap! You must have been absolutely terrified. I would be beside myself waiting for the outcome if I did not know that Zung lived through this. Great writing can’t wait for tomorrow.

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