Sunday, November 6, 2016

Martingaling My Way Through An Angiogram

And we pick up the write up of my recent bypass surgery right where we left off.  The previous chapter can be found here).

Sometime that morning a doctor came by to check on me.  She assured me that the angiogram was a routine operation and I had nothing to worry about.  I did mention to her that I would really like to go to my car to get a few items before being transported to Sunset.  I told her that two nurses had told me that this might be possible.  But she said I got some bad info.  With all the monitors hooked up to me, there was no way they'd take me to car.  Not a chance.

So I was stuck with a dying celphone.  I didn't borrow another charger, because it was close to the time that they would be taking me to the new facility.  I did my best to preserve my power, which meant not using the phone most of the time.  Which being bored as hell, as I had absolutely no entertainment available to me at all. Daytime TV was even less interesting to me than nighttime TV.  And I wasn't distracted by a meal—I couldn't eat or drink before the procedure.

After what seemed like an eternity, the ambulance guys showed up right on time.  They moved me from the hospital bed to the ambulance gurney, grabbed all my things (mostly clothes, keys, wallet) and wheeled me to the ambulance. 

The ride in the ambulance was interesting.  It was a first for me, fortunately I'd never been in ambulance before.  It was a pretty claustrophobic in there.  Also, it was interesting riding around town and trying to figure out where we were by only looking out the back window of the car.  I had to figure out where we were by seeing the freeway signs for exits we had just passed.  The other thing of note—it was a whole new perspective for me to appreciate just how badly people drive.  I saw a whole bunch of cars that really came close to clipping the ambulance.  All I could think of was that if anyone hit us, I might miss the scheduled time for my procedure due to the exchange of insurance and driver's licenses.

That didn't happen.  The ambulance took me directly to the area where they do the angiograms.  It was huge area with a ton of tiny cubicles.  I was wheeled into my cubicle and greeted by my nurse, a young Asian fellow.  The first order of business was logging in my personal belongings, which had survived the trip from Panorama City.  He made a note of all my clothes, my watch, and then while I was carefully monitoring, he went into my wallet.  He noted my driver’s license, all my credit cards, and then counted my cash.

Remember that I had intended to drive to Vegas two days from then.  Thus, I had $750 cash on me.  The nurse did a double take at that, and then said that he would make sure to put the bag that had my pants and wallet (and cash) with me when they wheeled me into to the room where they would do the angiogram. Usually it would stay behind in my cubicle, but he thought it would be safer to have it with me during the procedure.

The nurse told me I’d be there awhile.  When they said my procedure was at 2PM, they meant that’s when they wanted me to be there.  Now that I was there, they’d put me on the schedule and it would be at least until 3:30 before they’d get to me.  I later learned that facility did 28 angiograms that day, which was a lot for them.  They were very busy.

And then the nurse asked me the immortal question, “Did they shave you at Panorama City?”  I said yes.  “Well, I’ll have to check, most of the time they don’t do a very good job.”  I wasn’t in the least bit surprised by his statement.  So he checked.  Guess what?  “Yeah, I’m gonna have shave you again, sorry.  They weren’t very thorough.”

Ok, so why do they even bother?  It gave credence to my theory that the old biddy who shaved me earlier that morning did it for her own thrills and not to help prepare me for surgery.

Thus, for the second time this day, a total stranger took a razor to my pubes.  It was indeed my lucky day.

I was basically stuck there, flat on my back, for 90 minutes or more.  I had my celphone but was still trying to preserve power. This was a different kind of facility than I’d been in the previous night, and I didn’t even try to borrow a charger.  I just turned on my phone sporadically to check for messages.

Finally the nurse said I was on the schedule and the angiogram medical techs would be by any minute to wheel me to the room where the procedure would be done.

A few minutes later, two or three guys in scrubs came by to take me away.  They were in their mid-30’s I guess.  The nurse handed them the bag with my pants (and my money) and told them that it had to go with me because there was $750 cash in there.  So one of the techs said, “$750?  Let’s run that up to $1,000.”   I laughed and said, “How… gonna take it to Vegas?”

He did a double take and said, “I like your thinking.”  Then, to one of the other techs he said, “Did you see they approved the stadium deal for the Raiders to move to Vegas? Some big casino owner is behind it. It’s that guy…..”  he was drawing a blank on the name, so I helped him out.  “Sheldon Adelson….he owns the Venetian.”

“Yeah, that’s it,” the tech said.  Then a couple of them had a discussion of what it would mean if the Raiders moved to Vegas.  I honestly can’t recall if I participated in the discussion or not.

As they got me in the room where the angiogram would be performed, the same guy said, “Just out of curiosity, what do you do for a living, sir?”

“I work in the poker business.”

The guy said, “Aha, no wonder you know so much about Vegas.  So when you say you work in the poker business….do you play?”

I understood his question to mean, am I professional poker player?  I said, “Well, I play poker, but I don’t play for a living.”  I may or may not have described what I actually do. 

Then he said, “Here’s how I win money in Vegas.  I play blackjack.  I bet $15.  If I lose, I bet $30.  If I lose again I bet $60.  I keep doubling until I win.”   I may have the details wrong, but he pretty much described a classic Martingale style betting progression.

I said, “That’s not really a good idea.  It’s dangerous.  Sooner or later you’re gonna be betting a fortune to win $15.  And you’ll either run out of money or have to bet more than the maximum bet to chase that $15.”  He said, “Yeah….well it’s always worked for me.  I always win by the 6th bet.  I’ve never run out of money.”  Hmm….because they were prepping me, I didn’t pursue this.  I had other things on my mind. But I do recall thinking, “Well, at least I got some material appropriate for my blog out of this.”

The room where they do the angiogram was huge.  I mean really, really big.  Not sure why it has to be that big, but it helps explain why they don’t do this at the facility I originally checked into.  They put floating X-ray device over my chest while two doctors seemed to be working near my legs.

They don’t knock you out for this, they just sedate you.  Pretty amazing when you think about it, that they stick a catheter in your groin, run it and some dye through your arteries all the way to your heart, and you are conscious the entire time.  Of course, just a few months back I had cataract surgery and they didn’t knock me out while they were cutting open my eyeball.

So although I was relaxed and in no pain during the procedure, I was aware of everything that was going on.  I heard the two doctors talking, but I couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying.  However, it was pretty clear to me they weren’t happy with what they were seeing.  I kept hoping to hear something positive, but I never did.

Finally one of the came over to me and gave me the bad news. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but it was something like, “Well, we’re sorry, the stents aren’t going to work for you.  You need bypass surgery.  We’ll get you on the schedule as soon as we can.”

Fortunately I was sedated so I didn’t scream, but clearly this was not the diagnosis I was looking for.  They finished up and wheeled me back to my cubicle, where my nurse was waiting for me.

As if the news wasn’t bad enough, I was now extremely uncomfortable and destined to be that way for some time.  After the procedure, I had to keep extremely still, very minimal movement.  Especially the right leg (the side they put the catheter in).  I couldn’t move that one iota.  After an hour or so, I was allowed to move my left leg a little, but it was like four hours before I was able to move that right leg.

The nurse told me that he was gonna try to get me some food.  Remember, I hadn’t eaten all day and it was now maybe 4-5 pm.  He said I’d stay there until they had an actual hospital room for me upstairs.  He said it would be awhile. 

Eventually a cardiac surgeon came by to discuss my condition.  He reiterated that there was a lot of blockage visible, and it would take a triple bypass to repair it. He explained the procedure somewhat.  He said they were booked solid for tomorrow (a Friday), so they would likely schedule me for early the following week.  Needless to say, I would be stuck in the hospital until then.   He also said, “We usually only do emergencies on the weekends.  Obviously no one wants to work the weekends.”  That’s not an exact quote, but definitely the gist of it.

Somehow, with my minimally allowed movement, I was able to use my phone to contact my friends and relatives and let them know what was going on.  And then I had to ask LM & Woody a huge, really huge favor.  Since I would be in a hospital room for three days before they even took a knife to me, it was imperative to me that I get that stuff out of my car.  Could they drive to where I was in Hollywood, pick up car keys, drive to Panorama City, get the stuff out of my car, and bring it back to me?  It was a helluva lot to ask, but they didn’t hesitate for a second.

The nurse kept me updated on the status of my room….but it boiled down to “eventually.”  Meanwhile I was extremely uncomfortable lying still (and thinking about the surgery).  And my celphone was near death. I was waiting to get to a room, where I assumed I could borrow a charger.  In the meantime, I turned the phone off and just lied there bored and thinking about what my life would be like for the next 6-7 weeks.  I mean, assuming I survived the surgery.

By the way, there actually was a TV for my cubicle, but it was broken.

And that’s where I’ll leave it for now.  Hopefully I’ll have another chapter later this week. Here's my recovery update:  Been back home a few days now, getting used to that.  I'm supposed to see a cardiologist tomorrow so I'll have a better idea how they think I'm coming along.  I am at least sleeping better now that I'm back in my own bed.  It's a slow process.


  1. Hurry up and wait. Sometime, let me tell you my experiences with the medical system with my broken arm this past year.

    1. If ya'll were smart, you'd have married a doctor like waiting...

  2. Interesting stuff - thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you're recovering, albeit slowly.

  3. Seeing you're writing this keeps it from being a true cliff-hanger. Next time use a pseudonym. :)

    1. Yes....but you never know if the current chapter will be the last one I'm around to publish.

  4. Positive thoughts Rob. Your doing great (even the writing). It's a slow process. Especially in the beginning.

  5. You unfortunately weren't able to get by with stents as I fortunately was. It won't be long before you'll be complaining about cocktail waitresses stealing your unfinished Diet Pepsi and getting eyestrain from the MGM parade. Best wishes!

    1. Thanks, Lightning.

      Stealing my soda now may just kill me, however. Or maybe that's how I got here.

  6. Here's a get well soon joke for you!

    Hillary called the Donald and congratulated him on his victory and apologized for how ugly the campaign had turned. The phone was silent. Then Hillary asked the Donald if he had anything that he would like to say to her? To which the Donald replied: “go make me a sandwich”.