Nate’s Hospital Trip

hospitalThe partner of longtime PLAYBACK:stl contributor (and theater critic extraordinaire) Jim Campbell recently endured a health scare, about which Jim has graciously written openly and honestly…and, in true Jim Campbell fashion, with a humorous and entertaining bent.





Starting on Wednesday, Nate started saying that he had some chest pains. I told him to call his doctor. He decided to ignore them. When he would lay down to go to sleep, he would wake up two hours later short of breath and had some righteous clammy skin.

He would send me out to Walgreens at 2:15 a.m. to get him some Alka Seltzer, thinking he just had some indigestion and he could cure it with some over-the-counter stuff. (He said the pain felt like a big gas bubble rising in his chest.) After a bunch of Alka Seltzer and some massive doses of aspirin, he would get back to sleep only to be awakened once again, two hours later with the same pain.

When he was up and walking around, he would start to feel better, warding off any trips to his doctor…despite my saying comforting phrases such as, "You have the luxury of having health insurance, why aren't you using it?" and "Quit faking pain to get out of going to Julie and Carlos' wedding!"

As Sunday—the day of our friends' wedding—rolled around, Nate woke up and told me to take him to the Urgent Care facility. Things were about to get serious.

We went to the urgent care center, and they were wonderful. They got him right in and treated him immediately. They took an EKG of his heart and didn't like what they saw. With his high cholesterol and diabetes, he was a high risk for heart problems. He was sent to St. Anthony's in an ambulance with an oxygen mask strapped to his noggin. I beat the ambulance to the hospital; not sure how that one happened.

Once there, he was whisked into one of the wards. Much to my relief, he didn't have to go to the waiting room; that would have been too much to take. His doctor—who was not hot at all (damn ER for making me think that all emergency room doctors are hotties)—said he thought Nate had been having a series of mild heart attacks (which I have been referring to as itsy bitsy teeny weenie heart attacks) and could have a dead valve or a blockage, both of which would require some kind of surgery.

As I played on my PSP, Nate would continue to have episodes of pain and suffering. Things were not looking good. His heart rate was in the 120s and they had had to give him some blood thinners. They gave him some nitro, but that gave him headaches and he even nearly passed out at one point.

As soon as a bed came open, the doctor had Nate checked into the ICU facility. He needed 24-hour supervision.
Once settled, he looked like a member of the Borg (Google it, non-Trekkies!). He had cords coming out of everywhere and he was miserable.

But the first rounds of tests cam back with good news. It looked probable that he had pericarditis, an inflammation of the tissue around his heart which would cause his great pain. This is good, as it can be treated with anti-inflammatories and aspirin. Even though that looked like the cause, the doctors still wanted to to a cardiac catheter.

The next day, they stuck the needle in his groin, filled his heart with dye and discovered that instead of a lump of coal, Nate had a healthy, beautiful, pumping heart! Woo hoo!

Everything looked real good and they released him today. He has to take it easy for the rest of the week, can't lift anything over 10 pounds, and has me to wait on his every need. What more can a guy wish for? He can return to work next week and the doctor's don't think there will be any permanent damage.

So there it is in a really long nutshell. Nate survived a mild heart attack.

Now some of my own observations about the experience.

1. When your partner says they are having chest pains, take them at their word and get them to a hospital quick; drag them if you have to.

2. Waiting rooms are the most depressing places on Earth.

3. Hospital food is beyond nasty.

4. St. Anthony's Hospital staff is kick ass and they let me see Nate whenever I wanted to; they must have realized that gay people have insurance.

5. No matter where you are in a hospital, your cell phone will not work. I think they have some kind of shield generator in place to block the signals.

6. It's OK to cry.

7. I know I sound like a freaking Hallmark card, but cherish everyone you know; I couldn't bear to think what my life would be like without Nate. | Jim Campbell

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