Friday, August 24, 2012

Notes On My Recent Hospital Stay - Part 2

I forgot to mention that when I first got to the ER, they couldn’t find my previous medical records. The reason? They had my age as 75 years old. Damn! I look good for 75!
While wearing a hospital gown, one must be constantly aware about how one's legs are positioned. Well I lost that awareness while being pushed on a wheelchair from the telemetry unit to the cardiology department. I forgot to keep my legs together. Fortunately I was wearing shorts.
A woman was pushing me around at the hospital and I loved every minute of it. Oh, it was just a cute radiology tech transporting me on a wheelchair. The same wheelchair which I offered to two ladies in the elevator in my attempt to be a gentleman.
Before the treadmill stress test, I was hooked up to more electrodes. Thoughts of Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man) ran through my head. Another echocardiogram was done prior to mounting the treadmill. Here is how the treadmill stress test went: it started with a very slow 3 MPH walk and every three minutes the speed would increase. The second 3 minute segment was also easy. On the third 3 minute segment, the speed increased significantly. I told the technologist that it felt like a 13:30 to 13:40 pace per mile. He was surprised how right I was and confirmed that the pace was indeed 13:30. I told him that was how fast I can walk on pavement for 6  to 8 miles. I anticipated that I would have to start running on the next segment because it would no longer be a walking pace and told the tech and cardiologist so. Um, did I mention that I was only wearing hospital supplied socks on my feet? Well, that’s akin to barefoot running which I’ve never done on the street or the treadmill. But run barefoot on the treadmill I did, knowing it would only last for 3 minutes and hoping I don’t tear my bad inner ankle tendons. The pace was probably only 6 MPH but it sure felt close to 6.5. Heck I haven’t run 10 minutes per miles since I don’t know when! At least I surprised the tech about my knowledge of pace based on my perceived effort J.  Before I could catch my breath, it was back on the bed for a post walk/run echocardiogram. I jokingly asked the tech if I could do another 18 minutes on the treadmill so I can put in my minimum workout for the day. It felt so good to walk fast then run on the treadmill even though it only lasted a few minutes.
My cardiologist cleared me for discharge after the treadmill stress test. I’m glad that my labs (other than the cholesterol level), cardiac ultrasound, and treadmill stress tests indicated that my heart is ok. However, I am still having some discomfort on my chest, neck and trapezius areas which might be muscular pain or stress. And darn, that nitroglycerine headache lasted for 3 days!
Someone from the hospital called at about 1 p.m. last Monday. I thought they were just calling to follow up and ask how I was doing. Well, she identified herself as a patient account representative. That didn’t sound good. That usually means that I owe them some money and how right I was. I was informed that I indeed owed $100 for the ER visit. What I understood from my insurance coverage was that if I was admitted, the ER fee is waived. Sylvia explained to me that if I was admitted, my co-pay would have been $250 but since the doctor only ordered an “observaton”, that counted as an ER visit. So the hospital was actually billing me for a lower rate. Just to make sure, I asked if the rest of my tests, meds and treatments were covered. She said yes. I told her that when I heard the words “patient account representative”, I started having chest pain again, then I laughed with her. Well, there goes my credit card getting another workout to pay for another ER visit. And I even haven’t paid off my Korean Airlines bill yet. Oh my…, I can hardly wait for the Long Beach Fire Department ambulance bill to arrive(yes, you have to pay for those too). I don’t even know if that’s covered by insurance. And what about my traffic ticket? Still waiting for that fine too, most likely about 500 dollars.
Lastly, I don’t remember ever riding in an ambulance here in the U.S. before other than when my job requires me to escort a patient aboard. One time I was in an ambulance as a patient was in 1972 when I was being transported from the Manila domestic airport to Capitol Medical Center to have my fractured ankle treated. Ok, I just remembered something. I think it was 1983 when I got hit by a car coming out of a driveway while I was riding my bike. The paramedics might have transported me to the hospital in their ambulance at that time too.
Well, that’s it folks. I hope I don’t have to write about another hospital stay any time soon.
To read part 1 and the rest of this hospital visit click the links below:

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