Sunday 23 Oct 2016

Matt Seinberg

I truly hate hospitals. Today, someone asked me why. The first thing I could think of was the smell. It's a combination of body odor, cleaning solvent and death.

I was blissful with my ignorance.

The first time I remember actually being in a hospital was when I was about twelve years old. My mother had what they called, in those days, "a female plumbing problem." At that age, I didn't want to know exactly what that meant; I was blissful with my ignorance.

Do you have any idea what's it's like for a ten year old to see his mother in a hospital bed? It's scary, extremely scary. The one thing going through my mind was if she coming home: soon or at all?

When I was still in high school, around age sixteen, my father had a heart attack and went in for a quadruple bypass. The hospital wasn't far from the house. I could walk or ride my bike to visit if I wasn't going with my mother.

The first time I went to visit, he was attached to more tubes and wires than I have ever seen before. I was standing behind my sister and mother. All of a sudden, I felt myself feeling faint, my knees got weak and I started to pass out. Luckily, the nurse saw what was happening, grabbed me by the arm and got me into a chair before I fell down.

Twice I enjoyed going to the hospital.

The two times I actually "enjoyed" going to the hospital was when the kids were born. Watching them being born are two of the happiest days of my life. Holding them for the first time is life changing. Paying for all they need, priceless and very expensive.

About ten years ago, Marcy and I both ended up in the hospital. Marcy was first, ending up there on Memorial Day weekend. Somehow, Marcy contracted cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of the skin and the tissues beneath the skin. She ended up with an infection on the entire right side of her face, which required intravenous, IV, antibiotics.

At the end of that summer, just before Labour Day weekend, I was having some terrible nosebleeds, so I went to an ENT. He cauterized my nose and put enough packing material up there to ship a car.

I was in terrible pain, but somehow went to work the next day. For some reason, everyone was running late and I had to open the store by myself. The first customer that came in said to me, "You don't look to good. Can I get you something to drink?" She brought back a Coke, I thanked her and she left.

The next customer came in, said something to same effect and went to get security. The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back. I had passed out and vomited. The ambulance arrived and off I was to the hospital.

Here's the definition of Vasovagal Syncope.

Vasovagal syncope is one of the most common causes of fainting. In this situation, the balance of two chemicals, adrenaline and acetylcholine, is not. Adrenaline stimulates the body, including making the heartbeat faster and blood vessels narrower, thereby increasing blood pressure. Acetylcholine does the opposite. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, excess acetylcholine releases, the heart rate slows and the blood vessels dilate, making it harder for blood to defeat gravity and reach the brain. This temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain causes the syncopal or fainting episode. Pain can stimulate the vagus nerve and is a common cause of vasovagal syncope.

That's why I passed out! I ended up in the hospital for three days. I refer to that as a short vacation, without the pool. The problem was I wasn't getting any sleep from the pain, and the constant poking and prodding from the doctors and nurses. They finally gave me a sleeping pill, the second night so I could sleep through the night.

Shortly after I left the hospital, I went to the cardiologist, who explained what happened and why. He wanted me to take a test, called the tilt table. Huh? First, I'm flat on my back and they pump me up with acetylcholine to see if I'll pass out as the table is slowly going to a vertical position.

One minute I'm awake, looking at the nurse writing something down, and the next thing I'm out like a light, with the nurse waking me up. What did this tell the physician? That I'm susceptible to vasovagal and I needed to be on a beta-blocker called Pindolol.

So for ten years, Dr. Todd and I have had an annual or semi-annual visit without any problems, except once. They changed my medication and I didn't react well to it. It made me tired and depressed. As soon as I stopped it, I felt fine.

What brought up all this hospital talk? My mother in law, Liz ,was rushed to the hospital yesterday by my father in law, Mort ,with symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Her major complaints were no appetite, slight facial paralysis and trouble breathing.

Today, they did a blood filtering procedure, which will happen another three or four times. Marcy spent most of the day there, along with her father, brother and aunt. I'll visit on Tuesday, but only for a little while. I hope that Liz will come home in another week. You see, I really hate hospitals.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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