When Giddy Gives Way to WTF Just Happened.

Occasionally I wonder what it would be like to be a more simple person — one that did not need to know stuff all the time. One that could live in blissful ignorance.

I wonder what it would be like to not care when people cheat at dog shows, lie on their resume, or submit plagiarized papers.

I wonder what it is like to not feel the need to really understand things when bad stuff happens or to DO SOMETHING in the face of perceived wrongdoing.

But alas, I suspect I will never know the sense of contentment that I imagine comes from not giving shit.

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A curious mind and caring heart are sometimes a burden.

My elation at the last-minute reversal of my cardiac fortunes lasted only as long as it took my brain to catch up with things and realize my adventures in heart failure was not caused simply by two transposed values on a report.

Not even close.

It has taken me a great deal of time to sort all this out and it is complicated, but to give you a sense of the issues, this is the final line of an email sent Friday to one of the hospital administrators: “If this were one of my university students, I would be very concerned that there was a cut and paste error involved in all of this...”

And guess what?! It turns out that is actually a real thing! Who knew?! You can read about cut and paste errors in medical records HERE.

I spent two horrible days contemplating my short life expectancy, the loss of my health, the loss of my future, the loss of all that I love and love to do.

Then I sat in nothing but a hospital gown that morning while an insensitive jerk mansplained and all but rolled his eyes because I asked to have ONE SMALL THING be less awful in all of that with the use of buffered lidocaine before IV insertion.

And the absolute and unspeakable relief that I had been right — that there was a mistake — I still have no words for that. How grateful I am to that nurse and the other staff who paid attention and had the humility to understand that mistakes happen in medicine.

I am not upset that the original explanation was transposed numbers — that is where I still extend Grace. The initial belief feels understandable to me because I know the deep dive it has taken to establish that the Theory of Transposition withers in the face of their own documentation.

Like any traumatic event, the reality settles in around me as the giddy joy of survival creates space for other thoughts and feelings.

I have lost trust in professionals who have been so important to me. They should have caught this — no question. What do I do with those broken relationships? How does one grieve loss of faith and comfort and confidence? How do you forgive and build trust again when the betrayal is a professional?

None of this is actually one person’s fault — this was a system failure.

And how are we to trust a health care system that is increasingly not allowing time for providers to ensure their best intentions towards patients can be adequately realized?

But all of that heady awareness doesn’t really change my current reality — that I am one real person living with a system failure that rocked my world.

I am a human being coming down from two days spent terrorized and grieving.

A person trying to sort out what it means that I was literally minutes from an unnecessary and invasive cardiac procedure.

And because of who and what I am, I am overwhelmed by imagining others whose care might be compromised because they are silenced by the hierarchies that still exists in health care or worse — that they are unheard because nobody is actually listening in that so-called patient-centered model.

Overwhelmed. That is the best word to describe how I feel. My mind is just kind of blown. I am overwhelmed by everything.

And so I write. This blog. A detailed summary of the events that will go to the Administration Team tomorrow morning with the request for a meeting. The nomination to give a nurse an award.

I will be okay again but truthfully — right now I am not. That is to be expected, of course. But I trust myself to find “okay” again — after all, I got myself out of an unnecessary cardiac angiogram, didn’t I?


A Day -- and a Lesson -- to Remember

When I was a kid, I was frequently called Bossy — this was before we understood those traits to be Leadership Skills. In addition to having early Leadership Skills, I was never very good at taking “no” for an answer.

I was taught by nuns — “normal” people do not scare me.

I was taught by nuns — “normal” people do not scare me.

Pushy. Persistent. Dogged. Call it what you want but after today you won’t hear me apologizing for any of it.

Early this morning I sent Part Two of the “Just in Case” emails to my Perfect Sister. Part Two was harder than Part One because I had to decide about the dogs. My daughter will be thrilled to know that I wanted Claire to go to her.

And then, dressed in my new Lucky Sweatshirt and Lucky Donut Socks, we headed into Missoula.

Don’t let the smile fool you! I took this photo — just in case — to send to the kids, who knew nothing about what was going on.

Don’t let the smile fool you! I took this photo — just in case — to send to the kids, who knew nothing about what was going on.

Two days ago my Provider informed me that the cardiac test (a stress echocardiogram) we did last week was abnormal and there was concern about a blockage. They promptly scheduled this charming adventure…


I was stunned. Seriously stunned.

Twice yesterday I talked to staff at the clinic — could this be a mistake?

Oh no, I was reassured. They are very careful not to mix things up.

Suddenly, all my hopes and plans and wishes for the future were popping like soap bubbles in front of me. I would not get to see my grandchildren grow up. My heart was broken — literally, it would seem.

I did what I do — I wrote. Worried that I would forget a question or to say something important, I prepared two-pages for my providers; it started like this:

“First, I want to be really sure that there is not any chance of a mix-up in the stress echo test results. This is not simple denial or wishful thinking... “ And I went on to explain the reasons I was concerned there had been a mistake.

I handed that document over this morning and changed into the gown, fighting back the tears.

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A tech made the mistake of scoffing at my request to have buffered lidocaine before the IV went in — Dear Husband shifted uneasily, knowing that shit was about to get real in a big fat hurry. I don’t take condescending attitudes from health care providers well — does that surprise you?

But then the happy music started playing as Nurse Kate came in. She had read my missive and paid attention. That, my dear friends, is how it is done. She paid attention.

Suddenly, they were all watching the rerun of my test. Then they were comparing it to one done five years ago.

And that is how they realized there had been a mistake on the report — numbers had been mixed up. My heart is FINE.

I kid you not — I almost had an invasive heart procedure because of a TYPO. I spent the past two days in misery because an imperfect human being made a mistake.

None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. I am not at all angry or upset. Instead, I welcome the opportunity to extend Grace, knowing well I am often in need of that very gift myself. And I am giddy with relief that I am OKAY.

But the real lesson in all this is about being pushy, persistent, dogged — and yes, bossy. I am glad I learned those lessons early in life — they served me well today.

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