Addendum: I need to mention something that may have gotten lost in this post – the staff, nurses and doctors at the hospital were first rate all the way and I am grateful for their care.
I’m home after over 24 hours in the hospital. It still feels like I went a few rounds with Mike Tyson. I’m sore about everywhere and have three IV holes in my arm. I thought it might be a heart attack (I had almost all the warning signs), but that was quickly ruled out by an EKG.
|Well, if you’re me, you start running up a big bill for nothing|
Then the frustration built: lots of blood work: all normal; CT scan: normal. Finally barium fluoroscope: normal. And yet when I was in ER, the pain and discomfort were so bad a nitro tablet did nothing and I need 2 mg of morphine (yes) to get the pain down.
After all that, I’ll be left with a big bill and a provisional diagnosis: well since you have had esophageal spasms before, this must be another one. But it wasn’t because I know myself. The E spasms come on quick and hard but leave after 5-10 minutes. This was a whole other kettle of fish. Yes there were some E spasm issues but they were light – it was a whole different chest and stomach pain with lightheadedness and nausea.
After all those tests I can only conclude one thing – the E spasms are often (not not always) triggered by stress. And so was this.
This had been building up all week – even though this was a three day week (which I find embarrassing). But when you never know when the next blow will come from, where the next little paper from your boss and HR will drop for something you said but forgot weeks ago, when all these people smile in your face when you find out what they do behind your back, knowing that yearly job review is coming up and wondering if that will be the next thing they’ll use to get rid of you, when the date for appealing your case to a director is coming up (10/31) when your union rep says it’ll be futile anyway, knowing that the letter being dropped in your file means there is no escape from this constant stress, still remembering all that has gone one before including the lasting repercussions to me and my wife over the SWAT team raid. . . . well . . .I’ve said this place will kill me and people just grin a little and think I’m kidding.
And let me be clear because I’ve been told the Gestapo at work read this: I don’t have to do anything to myself. The stress and worry alone will do it. Slowly but surely, when you work at a place full of smiling faces you cannot trust, wondering if every assignment you get is meant to trap you, having to watch every.single.word you say – well, how would you do?
Added to my bipolar2, depression and generalized anxiety disorder, I’m actually, in a weird way, proud of myself for not dropping from a stroke or heart attack yet. I still stand. Not just for myself, but for my wife whom I love so dearly that I would give the world (and my life) and for but for every hung out person in the whole damn universe (h/t Bob Dylan) who has to put up with a brutal and ignorant workplace every day without the nominal protection of a union.
I read their stories everyday in numerous websites and Facebook sites for people with mental afflictions. They are my people, my brotherhood, and, for once in my life I can honestly say: I feel your pain. I will never understand why some people get such a charge from being sneaky and cruel. I can’t understand how I could have worked for over 35 years and only run up against this kind of reaction from my current employer. I don’t understand, with all I have done for them including defending them on camera when no one else would, what horrible thing I have done to be treated this way?
I realize I am rambling a little stream of consciousness here but sleep has been hard to come by in the last 48 hours and I’m still dopey from the meds and the constant interruptions of hospital life. But I just had to get this out of my system this morning.
At least as long as I can come in and work, I have one thing I can do I feel really helps the Veterans I’m supposed to serve. When Vets write their Congressional representative with an issue they feel hasn’t been resolved any other way, the aides write me and I get to work getting a solution or at least a response from the department of our hospital that can help. I feel an immense satisfaction with a Veteran get a home modification they need, a bill paid, a appointment made.
That’s the way it should be – for everyone. But that is 20 percent of my experience and all the other stuff easily overwhelms the good. I was a Army Reservist, my father was a Marine in Korea. This was never just a job for me. I remember when I was called and offered the job how thrilled I was. I was literally jumping for joy – a chance to work on the side of the angels and honor the people who signed Uncle Sam a blank check. I had no idea how naive that sentiment was. And it saddens me.
So I’ll go in Tuesday and do what I can even though I get the willies just approaching the front gate. I actually have this worry in the back of my mind, the cop at the gate will ask me to pull to the side and. . .well. . .
I got a form letter response from the Federal job I applied for a few weeks ago. It doesn’t look promising but it was my last chance until the letter drops in my file. I wanted to give them what they wanted – rid of me. But it is not to be.
Like many in this situation, all I can do is what I can do – go in and work as much as I can.
But the next time I start collapsing like I did Friday morning, I’ll assume it’s just accumulated stress and I’ll try to take leave and get myself out of the situation for awhile — take some deep breaths and some rest. I will never go to the ER again unless I get dragged there. If, someday, it really is a heart attack, well, whatever. Nobody lives forever.