After my extremely unfortunate experiences last week, I’m finally back on my feet.
The Great Turkey Debacle didn’t really end until yesterday around noon. That was when I left my doctor’s office for the follow-up appointment to my ER visit late Saturday night. On Friday, I had a reasonable day. I couldn’t eat much for breakfast, but managed to get down something like a normal lunch and a small dinner. Saturday, by comparison, was a disaster. I ate a small breakfast, got ill, suffered a headache, and took a nap. Then, I managed to eat a small lunch and a very small dinner. I basically choked down those last couple of meals but wasn’t happy with how I felt afterwards. Regardles, I felt like I had to eat something, so I did. Most of the day on Saturday I was nauseus and lethargic. 99 days out of a hundred I don’t take any sort of nap, but on Saturday I took several naps, some an hour long or longer. I finally went to bed around 23:00.
As I was drifting off to sleep, I felt my heart transition from the normal two-beat (“Dub, dub…
Dub, dub”) rhythm to a three-beat rhythm (“Dub, dub, Dub……
Dub, dub, Dub”) and as the beat changed, I felt a catch inside my throat. This was definitely not normal, and as I worried about it, the beat sped-up and normalized. I talked myself into believing that I had imagined the whole affair or somesuch, and was drifting off to sleep when the change in rhythm happened again. Now, I got really nervous. I told Sarah what was going on. She helped me give in to my better senses to seek some sort of professional medical opinion. At that hour, it meant a trip to the ER.
Once at the ER, I was placed on a bed, an IV was inserted in my arm, an EKG was taken, blood was drawn, and a heart monitor went on one of my fingers. As I was waiting there for the doctor to come in, I decided that if something was going to go wrong with my ticker, that I probably couldn’t be in a much better situation. There I was, with an IV already in my arm and a heart monitor on my hand, lying in the Emergency Room of a highly respected hospital. The old Boy Scout motto of Be Prepared seems to have stuck.
Eventually, the doctor came in and said that the EKG showed nothing wrong, but that we needed to wait for the blood work to come back before he’d be happy releasing me. After a seemingly interminible wait, the news came back that my electrolytes were out of kilter and that this was most likely the reason for my change in heartbeat (a.k.a atrial fibrillation). He had the nurses provide me with what I now call The Magic Orange Juice.
If you are ever in the hospital, ask for The Magic Orange Juice. It is definitely not a sippin’ drink; it’s a chuggin’ drink as the flavor is reasonably awful. However, it’s probably the closest legal experience to a drug like cocaine or speed. Ten or fifteen minutes after finishing the glass, it’s like all my senses came online together. It was like looking through a dirty window for months on end. Then, one Saturday you clean the window, and find yourself wondering how you ever managed to see anything through the formerly filthy pane. That’s what The Magic Orange Juice is like. It’s like cleaning the windows in front of all your senses.
What’s in The Magic Orange Juice? I don’t know exactly what they put in it, but it provides a huge dose of potassium. My blood work indicated that I was hypokalemic (i.e., I had too little potassium in my blood). Potassium is major regulator of heart rhythms and when I ran low, my heart developed its own little rhythm. So, the folks at the ER gave me a huge shot of potassium in an otherwise potassium rich food that is quickly and easily absorbed.
After I was discharged, I looked at the information sheet they gave me about hypokalemia. As it turns out, cocoa is a good source of potassium. Earlier in the evening, I had asked Sarah to pick me up a bit of chocolate while she was out running some errands as I had a jonesing for it. This was a highly unusual request from me. Not so much because I don’t like chocolate, but because I usually prefer hard, swett candies. Apparently, my body knew it needed potassium, knew where to get some quickly and in a form my GI tract would accept, and produced the necessary craving. The mind fell right in line, and the mouth spoke the request. It’s amazing how the whole system works.
Anyway, Sunday I was home trying to eat as many bananas as I could, even though I could hardly eat anything else.
Finally on Monday, I was allowed to start eating almost like normal again. Even today, I’m not back to where I was before the Damn Cutlet, but I’m definitely getting better. The smell of any meat no longer causes my stomach to wrench as it did earlier. However, all poultry products are strictly off-limits for now. Someone at work today had something that only smelled like fried chicken and it absolutely caused my stomach to lurch and then lurch again.
Since this incident, I’ve given very serious thought to radically changing what I eat. I’m not ready to become a strict vegetarian, but it is not out of the question to cull several of the meat food groupings from my diet. At the moment, it appears that all fowl and I are no longer on speaking terms. Sarah and I almost never eat beef any more because we substitute bison instead, so it’s easy to cut beef out of my diet. Interestingly, pork will be the sticking point, not because I like chops and roasts, but because I like port sausages like bratwurst and pepperoni.
The whole time I was ill, Sarah felt guilty because she was the person who cooked and served me the Damn Cutlet. It probably didn’t help that I kept accusing her trying to poison me to get sole custody of the dog. While I was either sleeping or moaning about the state of my stomach, she worked in the yard this weekend. We bought five bags of cocoa shell mulch from a PTO at a school near our house and Sarah spread several of them around her herb garden. She also finished weeding the flower gardens at the back of the house. The lettuce seeds she planted in pots two weeks ago are starting to come out of the dirt, as are the basil seeds.
For some reason probably closely associated with the tides or some other force, Sarah and I were in no-nonsense moods today. She disposed of several long-term problems by telling the source of the problem to take a very long walk in any direction they chose as long as it took them farther away from her. When I spoke to my friend Josh today and he asked how I was today, I responded, “Do you ever have a day where you wish you could solve your problems via mortal combat?”