The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

The impatient patient – Part 1


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jul. 16, 2019 - 4:44 PM

The impatient patient – Part 1

The Newnan Times-Herald

This as well as next week’s columns mark the three-year anniversary of my heart attack: July 20, 2016, in case you’re starting my Wikipedia page. 

I had an inexplicable chest pain several months ago that I thought I could take care of myself through the consumption of antacid tablets, or if that didn’t work what I’ve used to remedy my various illnesses and injuries in the past: time.

Neither was working, so after 24 hours and no sleep whatsoever, I thought it best to go to the emergency room of the Piedmont Newnan Hospital to find out if I might be having a heart attack. I had a similar experience several years ago that did turn out to be a heart attack so I didn’t want to take any chances.

Technically my wife was behind both trips to the ER but that’s not the point. 

Within minutes the hospital staff told me everything I needed to know. “Mister Ludwig, you’re not having a heart attack.” “Great, I’ll be on my way then,” I thought. 

You silly boy. 

“We’ll need to get you into a room so the doctor can take a look.”

A couple of hours later the cardiologist confirmed it wasn’t a heart attack. “Great, I’ll be on my way then,” I thought. 

You silly, silly boy. 

“But we need to keep you overnight to take a stress test in the morning.”

I begged him to let me go home and come back the next day. He explained that doing so would require me being discharged, scheduling an appointment – which could take weeks – and returning as an outpatient – by which time the earth would have spun off its axis. Therefore leaving wasn’t a viable option. 

Here’s what happened next:

  • Originally I was told I would not be able to have anything to eat or drink until after my stress test. I explained that meant I’d be without food more than 24 hours. My nurse, my nutritional guardian angel convinced the doctor to allow me a “sodium-free meal” for dinner, which is basically a meal that has had the taste surgically removed. 
  • My friend Eric stopped by my room to smuggle a couple of snacks – unless any of the staff that tended to me is reading this – in which case he didn’t – and talk about our plans for a 100-mile footrace we would be running in four weeks. Actually Eric will be running it and I will be supporting him, which means I’ll ensure he has everything he needs – dry clothes, a change of shoes, food and drink – and run by his side whenever he needs an emotional lift. And yes, I realize the irony of having this discussion with Eric mere hours after finding out I wasn’t having a heart attack. I should also point out that Cindy told me how dumb it sounded when I told the cardiologist earlier than I “only ran an easy nine miles” that morning while I was experiencing chest pain. It sort of pales in comparison to what Eric and I have in store, don’t you think? Who’s the dumb one now? 

To be continued next week…

Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia. His latest book, “Southern Charm” is a collection of his first 101 columns for The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at magicludwig1@gmail.com .