Monday, January 07, 2008


About 8 months after my husband's bypass surgery he complained of "indigestion". I don't "do" adult nursing, but I've taught first aid to Cub Scouts long enough to know that indigestion isn't always indigestion.

Shortly after his initial complaint, he became very pale. His skin was cool and clammy and sweat started pouring off his forehead. Over his objections, I picked up the phone and called 911.

We were joined very shortly by our local version of Ambulance Driver and his rookie partner. My husband was still feeling pretty rocky, but I started to feel better as soon as they arrived.

Within moments, they'd checked his BP - a little high, but not scary.

His pulse - 50.

Blood sugar - 83.

EKG - "Did he have these Q waves on his last EKG?"

I didn't know. "Not a problem. We can find out when he gets to the hospital."

At that point, my husband started insisting AGAIN that it was only indigestion - and that he didn't need to go to the hospital. Oh, and I remembered that I needed to call the NICU to let them know I wouldn't be in to work that night.

The paramedic didn't bother to argue with him. "Mr. S. do you think you can walk out to the ambulance with us?"

I understand that walking to the bus isn't always the best plan if there's a possibility of cardiac problems, but leaving him at the house wasn't an option. He kept protesting that he didn't need to go, but his feet just walked him out the door and to the ambulance.

By the time I parked my car and joined him in the ER cubicle, he was pink and looked perfectly healthy. The ER doc entered, looked from him to the paramedics to me and basically asked why we'd dragged him in since my husband kept insisting that he only had a little indigestion. The doctor's tone changed after he heard the history and saw the CABG scar. A quick call to the cardiologist and my husband was admitted for the night and the million-dollar work-up scheduled for the morning.

Which showed that he had reflux.

Not that I'm complaining or anything, mind you.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear he's okay...

The pale and diaphoretic skin, and the pulse of 50 would have bought him a ride in my book; Q-waves tend to be an ofter the fact kind of thing, but with a cardiac history, the million-dollar workup was probably money well spent...

Not that I'd have wanted to stay, either (it has something to do with the Y chromosome, I think...)

Judy said...

There was no way he was staying home with those symptoms. I was glad the paramedics talked him into going along peacefully so I didn't have to get out my big stick.

I think they were more concerned as to whether the Q waves were old news or more recent (maybe silent MI recent) news. They were old-old news, though. They were on his post-CABG EKGs.

Ambulance Driver said...

Glad to hear he's okay!

Dee The RN said...

Q waves? They are part of the QRS complex that we ALL have. At least we had better or we're dead. Maybe they were referring to their shape/size and/or amplitude. This would be a clue as to the amount of oxygen he's getting or not getting and resultant myocardial ischemia indicative of chest pain/pressure and/or burning/indigestion. Either way, I'd hope to God those Q waves were always there! :). From a cardiac RN

Judy said...

Doubtless shape or size, but it's been so long I can't remember details.