3/22/14

Health scare

Had an interesting last two days. Came home on Friday to pack for a "weekend away" with Anna at a friends' house an hour outside of Rīga. I sat down to eat dinner and began to feel abnormally tired. I laid down on the couch and noticed that my heart was racing. I put my hand on my chest and felt that it was beating erratically; racing, slowing down and skipping beats. A pretty creepy feeling. I laid down, tried to breathe deep and calm myself down. Nothing changed. I moved to my bed and tried to fall asleep. Still no difference.

Finally, I asked Anna to call the ambulance and they arrived at our apartment a few minutes later. They did a few quick tests and said I needed to come with them. We hopped in the ambulance and drove to Gaiļezers hospital. They checked me into the ER and put me on a gurney. I was rolled into a giant room split up by curtains and laid there for about an hour with a dozen other people. One of my neighbors was an older heavily intoxicated woman who was yelling non-stop and cussing at everyone in Russian. Not too long after that I heard my other neighbor's vomit splashing against the tile floor. What a pleasant working environment! As I laid there I prayed a quick prayer for a doctor that could at least understand English (my medical Latvian is not that great!). It turned out, she didn't understand, but she was very sweet and patient with my Latvian. She gave me medicine to slow my heart rate down and hooked me up to an EKG machine. I laid there for another hour or so. After it was clear I was staying the night in the hospital I asked the doctor if my wife could come back to say goodnight. She smiled, and said she would send someone to get her. A small miracle! Normally that doesn't happen (the smiling or any appearance of customer service) in hospitals here! Anna and I talked for a while and then I was wheeled into an overnight room with two other men. I got my gear situated as they did a few last tests to see if my blood pressure had dropped and heart rate had slowed down. A friend of ours came to the hospital to pick up Anna and drive her home. Because of the combination of medicine and my heart racing for a few hours, I fell asleep immediately.

I woke up in the middle of the night confused about where I was and very clearly needing to visit the restroom. In a daze, I walked to the bathroom and positioned myself in front of the toilet. I began feeling dizzy, and my hearing and vision started to go. "I guess I'm about to pass out." I managed to lean back in time and sit on the window sill. The next thing I know, I woke up on the bathroom floor. Confused, I got up and stumbled back to my bed. My body was hot and tingly all over and my hearing was muffled. Not realizing what had just happened (first time ever passing out!), I got back in bed and quickly fell asleep. I woke up around 6:00 AM when two doctors came into our room to check on us. They checked my monitors and told me my heart was back on a normal rhythm and "you can go home." I got dressed and walked out of the ER with the doctor. Paid my bill and called a taxi.

The best news out of this whole experience... my total bill for the ambulance ride, tests, medicine and a night in the hospital = €7. Yayyy socialized medicine :)

2 comments:

Sintija said...

What was wrong with your heart then? :O

Joe Brooks said...

They were heart palpitations. Those can be caused by a million different things, but in my case it was most likely from extra stress. The cardiologist told me no intense exercise for a month and to eat less salt. My family doctor ordered some tests and it looks like my heart is healthy.