Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bacon, Smoke, 911, EMS, ER, & Thanks

A few minutes after I uploaded yesterday’s post, I realized that I had not eaten (other than a couple cups of coffee) all day. When one has very limited resources, one learns to waste nothing. In my refrigerator I found an old package of bacon that had never been opened and a carton of the Kroger version of Eggbeaters that needed to be prepared before its October expiration date. A 3:00 p.m. meal of bacon, scrambled eggs, and, yes, I did have some bread left for toast, enticed my appetite.

I began frying the bacon. At some point I became aware that my kitchen was filling with smoke from the sizzling bacon. I turned on the exhaust fan over my stove, but the smoke seemed to increase to the point that I couldn’t see across the room. I began to gasp for breath. I turned off the gas burner and ran out-of-doors. I still couldn’t breath. I took a portable air cleaner into the kitchen, plugged it in, grabbed Alex, and went back outside.

By this time I was gasping for breath as if I had just run a Marathon. I began to feel light-headed and almost fell down. The more I gasped for breath the faster I was breathing. I felt like I was going to pass out. When my breathing did not slow down, I decided that I was in serous trouble. I went back into the house and grabbed my cordless phone. From my front porch I dialed 911; when the operator answered, I heard myself say, in a voice that did not sound like my own, “I can’t breath.”

I do not remember what else I said to the 911 operator, except something about bacon and smoke and my address and phone number. A few minutes later I heard sirens and a large red fire truck went past my house. It stopped about half a block away and my almost non-functioning mind informed me that these firemen were coming to my aid but had gone well past my house. I tried to stand up and go toward the street to wave at them. However, as I walked I felt myself loosing consciousness. Then three firemen ran into my yard, put their sturdy arms around me, and half-carried, half-dragged me to my porch steps.

Straight away they had an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. Still, I was unable to take deep breaths. They asked me questions, checked the kitchen to make sure that I’d turned off the stove, and, by the time the EMS ambulance had arrived, located my wallet and keys and locked my house. Still, I was unable to take deep breaths.

The EMS people, with the help of some of the firemen, got me onto a stretcher, and lifted my 300+ pounds into the ambulance. When they asked what hospital I desired, I remember saying, “I don’t care—the closest.” I almost said “None,” but at that point, I remained unable to take deep breaths and was panicky.

In the ambulance the lovely EMS person, after placing a new oxygen mask on me, took more of my vital signs, hooked up an IV to my left hand, and began asking me questions. When she came to the question I dreaded—“Health Insurance”—I replied “I have no insurance and I have no income.” She patted my shoulder and said, “That’s OK, Honey. Don’t worry about it.”

I was seen almost instantaneously in the Emergency Room at Louisville’s Baptist East Hospital. First came more oxygen and IV hook-up with seven medication put through it (they were cold and hurt). The emergency room doctor came in while the IV meds were entering me. He asked some questions, expressed concern that I have been hospitalized seven times in the past nine years for respiratory problems (4 hospitalizations, including one 9-day stay, for pneumonia; 3 hospitalizations for acute bronchitis; and I have been told by my MD that I have a slight case of emphysema) and outlined the treatment plan.

During the next six plus hours in the ER I received five respiratory therapy treatments, more IV stuff, a check x-ray, blood-oxygen monitoring, and lots of oxygen. The vein in which the IV was initially placed collapsed, which isn’t unusual for me: during the nine-day hospitalization in 1998 I had so many IVs replaced that the nurse told me they had run out of veins in my arms and, if another one collapsed, she would have to use veins in my legs or my ass. (She was smiling when she said that).

The doctor finally came back into my room and told me that the chest x-ray, like the one my personal MD had had done a few weeks ago, came back showing I have “a bit of emphysema”—no worse than other folks who breath the pollution that sits on top the Ohio River Valley. He explained that, with my history of respiratory illnesses, the inhalation of the bacon smoke was enough to irate my lungs to the point of seriously hampering my breathing. The big concern, he said, was the rapid drop in my blood-oxygen level and that I am at high risk for again developing pneumonia, which, with my history, could be fatal.

After removing me from the oxygen and waiting long enough to be certain than my blood-oxygen level did not drop below 90%, he discharged me with a couple of prescriptions—the same types as when I had been discharged after having pneumonia—and told me to have my oxygen generator (that I am supposed to use with my C-pap) repaired. He also told me to stay away from smoke for at least three days. He gave me eleven pages of computer printout that included all of the test results, the recommendations, and information on my specific respiratory problems.

I am most thankful to the 911 operator, the Louisville firemen and EMS personnel, the staff at the hospital, and my number one son, Nick III, who came to the hospital, took me out to dinner in a fine resturaunt after my discharge, and drove me home.

This has been a long post and I really do not expect most people to read all of it. I have been home from the ER for about 2 hours. After locating and feeding Alex, who ran and hid somewhere outside when the fire truck arrived and is now asleep beside me on my desk, and telephone my mother to let her know that I am alive and at home, I began writing this entry. Since I received a lot of steroids through that IV in the ER, I am far from sleepy. So, what better way to spend my awake time than writing!


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  2. Wow, Nick! What a scary experience. I'm so glad you had time and ability to call 911. Sounds like you got some great care. I sure hope you continue to recover. Take care of yourself! Stay away from that smoke! Bye bye bacon. :)

  3. Good Lord, Rev T.! All of that from cooking bacon? Please, the future, buy all of your fried foods from McDonald's.

    Thank God you are back home and alive!

    Shalom aleichem, my friend.

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  5. good god nick i am so happy you are ok!!!!

  6. I’m damned glad you are still alive. The world does not need to be without so saintly a dude as you.

  7. Aaaaaaaaaah. Remember your suspected Jewish ancestors? Bacon is NOT kosher! The LORD was giving you a warning.

    That’s a joke, son. A joke.

    I am so happy you are safe. Please take the time to heal fully.

    Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the Universe, who bestows good things on the worthy, and has bestowed upon my friend Nicholas every goodness.

    He Who has bestowed on you every goodness, may He continue to bestow on you every goodness. Selah.

  8. I'm glad you are doing better. My husband like you who sleeps with a C-pap and 02. He also is very prone to pneumonia and acute bronchitis. There is nothing more frightening than not being able to breathe. I am very glad you called 911 . . . and that Alex is home and happy.

  9. OK, no more bacon for you!!! If you were incapacitated, it would be good to train Alex to blog us to let us know. :) Seriously - I'm glad you came through the episode as well as you did. ec

  10. Please take care of yourself. *huggles*


  11. They do say bacon will kill you, although yours seems much more active about it than most brands, which are generally satisfied just clogging a few arteries.

    Hang in there Nick, and take care of yourself.

  12. Yeah, what Limpy just said.

    Glad you got through it okay. Take care of yourself!

  13. Wow I am amazed at your recollection of the events inspite of what you have gone through.

    First of all, happy to know you are doing well.Secondly I hope you don't smoke.I know I would know if I was more regular at your blog.But in any case.

    Also it is nice to read once in a while about people having not so bad an experience in a hospital.Generally all I get to read is how horrid doctors are.:(

    You must take some rest, wish you a very speedy recovery.

  14. OMG Nick, that must have been so frightening. Better give up the Bacon, ey !! Hope you are now feeling much better, and breathing back to normal. Give Alex a hug for me. take care, Meow

  15. Nick...It's difficult for me to understand this. Why don't your sons take care of you? It amazes me that you've to go out searching for employment at this age, with all your health problems, and you have two well-to-do sons who don't seem to care(as it appears to me). Inspite of what you write about them, I don't have much of an opinion about these dudes.

    Anyhow, it's good that you're back home, safe and healthy. Please take care.

  16. Nick, what an awful ordeal! I certainly hope you're feeling alot better now. This makes me wish we were neighbors. I would come and visit you. I really, really would! I'm so glad you're ok.

  17. Thank God you're alive and posting, Nick!!!! Who would have thought that bacon smoke could do you in like that!

    and I heartily second what mike in tuscon said. We can't lose you, Nick. No way!

    *hugs and love*
    lil sis

  18. I'm glad you are OK. Please take care of yourself. I know how hard it is with no insurance, but without your health, you can't earn an income.
    Thoughts and prayers are with you!

  19. Wow, my father has emphysema, and he gets short winded very fast. The smoke definitely triggered that- from what I can see. Do you smoke? Usually smokers get that-----it’s a manmade illness to have emphysema. I hope that you’re feeling better, and you get some rest. Did they give you an oxygen machine----something you can hook up to in case you get winded?

  20. Can't believe it, Nick- thank God you're all right!

    Geez, will understand if you skip the jokes this week...

  21. Pardon me if iam a lil prying. But I agree with vish.
    Anyways, get well soon, and take care till then

  22. I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus wishing you a swift recovery.

  23. Geez, Nick, what a harrowing time. Thankful you're OK. God bless you, and may you be well.

  24. Hello Nick ~ What an awful scare for you. We have "meals on wheels" in Australia for the elderly. So far I don't need that but good to know it's available. Is there anything like that available to you? Get well very soon.
    All the best. Merleuwunaxm