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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not My Heart's Desire

I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend with my parents turned into a crazy/scary weekend instead...

It all started when I was asked to watch my friend Kevin's newly adopted dachshund, Daphne. This darling is sooooo cute and a wee bit timid. She got along with our dogs just fine (like most pooches she was smitten with Potatoes--but who isn't?). Unfortunately, she still doesn't know or respond to her name, nor does she have her name or Kevin's phone number on her tags. All she is marked with is her HomeAgain ID number and a Yolo county dog license.

My brother-in-law came over for dinner on Saturday night and brought his dog, Missy Bean, with him. After dining, my mom and I scooted out the door for a movie downtown. Apparently, my BIL let Daphne out the front door when he and Missy left to go home. His instinct was to yell at her to get her to come back inside...which had the opposite effect. She became startled and ran away. Dave and his brother promptly jumped into the car to find her in the neighborhood. Luckily they found her a few streets away...but my BIL again yelled at her and cornered her and she would not come to him. Instead she ran off again. She may have very short legs, but she sure can run when she wants to!

And so began a very stressful 20+ hour period for our household. When my mom and I came home from the movie we immediately knew something was wrong: the garage door was left open, there were no humans in the house, Daphne's leash was by the door, and my cell phone was missing (I'd left it on the counter). I called Dave on my mom's cell and he told me what happened. I jumped on my bike and went out looking. No luck. Dave and my dad hey'd already been looking for 2 hours with no luck (my BIL had long since given up and gone home).

As you can imagine, I was completely freaking out--this was the first time I'd ever watched Kevin's dog and she was my responsibility. I felt like such a failure (I still do). After looking in the freezing cold for another 3 hours we finally gave up. Kevin's girlfriend had even come to help. Still, no luck.

Dave posted a "lost dog" ad on Craigslist using one of the many pictures we'd taken early that day. Our hope is that someone had found her and would check online. Calling animal control (issuer of the dog license) was useless because they will only help if the dog is a threat to society (like if it has rabies and is loose). And no one had yet reported her to the HomeAgain service.

After a night of absolutely no sleep for me, I got a phone call at 7am from a woman who runs a dog-tracking business using bloodhounds. She'd seen our ad on Craigslist and offered her services (for a fee, of course). Kevin decided not to use her until he and his family had posted a bunch of lost dog posters around and looked around the area some more. Finally we called her; she said she could be in Davis within 35 minutes. I made arrangements to meet me at my house with her favorite ball that had her scent on it in 10 minutes. First I wanted to make one last bike trip over to a part of the neighborhood that I hadn't checked since the night before.

I rode my cruiser (which doesn't go very fast) over to the N street co-op houses and stopped to ask a lady if she's seen a black weiner dog running around. She said no, and then her cute little daughter started talking to me about how she was making a mud castle. All of a sudden my heart started beating REALLY REALLY fast and wouldn't stop. I ended our conversation without making a scene and called Dave to pick me up. I honestly figured my heart would slow down if I could just sit down for a minute.

Then I realized it wasn't worth waiting so I threw my bike down, sat on the curb, and called 911. About 4 minutes later both Dave and the paramedics were there. The paramedic couldn't count my heartrate my hand (on my wrist) because it was too fast. They quickly hooked me up to an EKG, determined my heartrate to be about 270-300BPM (yeah...holy crap), and then told me to "bear down, like you're going poop." This stimulated my vagal nerve and reset my heart.

Then it was off to the ER for a few hours before being transfered to a hospital in Sacramento for an overnight stay. During this time my dad went with Kevin and the hound lady to track Daphne's scent. Because the wind was blowing it was a little unclear where she finally ended up--they actually lost her trail and thought someone had picked up in a car. In reality, she probably just turned around at that point she her trail seemed to dead end. Finally, on Sunday evening Kevin called me at the hospital to report the good news that they'd found Daphne at the cemetary, not far from where she'd backtracked. I have never felt such relief.

When Dave brought my parents to the Sacramento hospital that night, my dad said to me "now just because I have a heart arrythmia doens't mean that you need to copy me and get one of your own--I know you like do be just like me, but this is a little extreme." Har har har.

I think I was hooked up to 6 different EKG/heart monitor gizmos during this whole episode--and that means 10 electrodes each. I'm still finding gummy residue from all the electrode stickers they stuck all over my body. Luckily I had only one IV, and one was enough. That thing hurt like you wouldn't believe. There was just no way to sleep with that thing in my arm so I basically went 2 full nights without any sleep.
Until the nurse took the IV out, I had no idea just how far the IV tube goes into your arm. Look at the thin white tube that is pointing to the left...isn't that disgusting?
Before leaving the hospital I asked for a copy of my EKG but the nurse couldn't find it. I'm hopeful that Medical Records will be able to give me a copy when I go back to the hospital for a cardiology check up. Although I don't totally understand what it all means, it is clear that something was not right. The diagnosis was that I suffered from a supraventricular tachycardia and then in the ER from a re-entrant tachycardia (until my heart settled back down again).

I'm ever so thankful that my heart seems to have gone back to normal and that the paramedics got to me so quickly. Hopefully this was an isolated incident, but if it wasn't I now know how to reset my heart before calling 911 (and there is medication that can be taken and/or a procedure that can be done to prevent it from happening again). The cardiologist's orders were to avoid caffeine, over stressing, and major exercise. I don't know how to avoid stressing out so that'll be a tough one for me.

And just in case, my cell phone will always be with me so I can call for help if need be.


erin said...

holy crazy weekend! glad the dog was found, but more importantly, glad youre ok!

steph.kelley said...

Whoooah Julie. I can't tell you how glad I am that you're alive (if "alright" isn't the right word). Gah, take care, take care!!

MrsTina said...

You seem to happy to be at the ER in your pics! Glad your okay!

Just goes to show that losing (temporarily) a dog and excercise don't mix well.

huntfamily said...

scary!!! im so glad you're okay...oh and the dog, too.