Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Medical Emergency in the Oil Patch

.As some of you may know I recently suffered a heart attack. I've had cardio problems for years so I'm familiar with what to expect; or so I thought. My initial experience came after a lack of vigor and notably slow blood flow. I had my first experience with the cath lab then. Most heart procedures are handled by the cath lab, so named because of the catheter the cardiologist uses. They make an injection in the patients groin or arm and, using dyes and cameras they navigate around the arteries of the heart, looking for blockages. Once a blockage(s) is found the cardiologist can either insert a stint (to widen the vessel or artery) or; if things are too bad; he can opt to pull out and perform a bypass. That calls for open heart surgery. That's what eventually happened to me; I ended up with a quadruple bypass. Throughout all the years of cardio problems, I'd never suffered what I call a "classic heart attack". You know; like the guy doubled over in pain in the old movies screaming for his digitalis. In fact, the only way they were able to tell I had had a heart attack was scarring on the heart muscle and elevated enzymes in my blood. I had felt no discomfort. That all changed with this heart attack. I started to feel like something wasn't right a few days before the event and it got progressively worse. I really wanted to cause as little fuss as possible and tried to find someone to cover our gate, with no luck. The last two nights I awoke to extremely acute angina, something that had never happened before. Finally, I could not take the pain and could not move more than a few feet in any direction. I messaged my boss and told him I needed to get to a hospital. Many remarkable things happened after that, mostly from the kindness of guards; some that were strangers and some that we knew. Everyone of them had to drop what they were doing and some had just worked a shift. I am VERY grateful to all of them. We were rolling to town in less than thirty minutes. No offense meant to all the very capable medical professionals in all the small towns we passed through, but we knew we needed a cardiologist, so we didn't bother to stop. We also knew it would take time and that they would more than likely put me on a life flight to San Antonio, so we pushed on. One of my fears of dealing with heart disease in the oil patch has been the remote areas we work in. I have to say this fear was realized because it was a long, painful ride. On top of that, the first hospital we stopped at did not have a cath lab or even a cardiologist on staff. Let me say that. the folks at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital went to great lengths to diagnose me and alleviate my pain. Unfortunately, I only remember the name of the gorgeous nurse that attended to me; thanks Priscilla! As an aside, let me tell you that you have no dignity when those folks are poking and prodding. All I know is that I had to pee something awful and no one missed a beat while I stood up and peed into a portable urinal. That was strange, but at that point I simply wanted the pain to go away. I had a goofy doctor (no offense meant, it might have been his bedside manner); that knew what he was looking at. Amongst all the chaos in the small room I was in, he burst in and trumpeted to all who could hear that I was suffering a heart attack. I'm not sure why, but it kind of reminded me of a scene from a Groucho Marx movie. He then dropped the "bomb" that they didn't have a cath lab or cardiologist on staff and that I would be transported by an ALS ambulance to Baptist Hospital in downtown San Antonio. I had some morphine in me by then (here I go again with my wild thoughts) and all I could think of was Mr. Toads Wild Ride in Disneyland. I had a pint sized lady for a driver and she made Danica Patrick proud. Everyone could learn a lesson from the communication at Baptist Hospital(s). They were expecting me at the ambulance door and a armed security guard shepherded us through a warren of passageways and elevators(all requiring his key card) till we reached the cath lab on the sixth floor. There, an entire cath lab, a cardiologist and assistants awaited me and knew who I was. Amazing! By the time Missy arrived from the other hospital, they had started the procedure. I can't say enough about the staff at Baptist Hospital, especially downtown. The remarkable things continued to happen, because I also ended up with a top notch cardiologist looking after me. Now; if I could just improve the food. I am on the road to recovery and need to mention one final thing. I have some of the best people you'd ever want to meet at the security company we contract out to. J&G Security has always had our back and this time was no exception. They have let us roost in their yard; both this time and during Missy's recent health issues. They have also kept some money coming in by assigning us twelve hour gates. Our trust of each other is mutual and we go out of our way to represent them professionally.


  1. Ouch! Glad you're still kicking and writing.

  2. April 16, 2016

    Get well soon, we all enjoy your posts.