I’ve decided that I’m a rock star. I’m a rock star and I’ve just finished my European tour named “The Broken-Hearted Tour.” We went on The Big Trip. We started by flying into London Heathrow Airport and driving to Oxford where we checked into a quaint hotel with soft beds and accommodating staff. We saw lots of beautiful old buildings and lots of college students starting back to school for the year. It’s a lovely town.
One day, instead of going on the planned tour, we took a bus into London. I love London. It’s busy and energetic and has a great feel to it. We saw all the great sites and took lots of pictures. I even got to see Abbey Road and got a picture of myself walking across the famous crosswalk.
The following day we took a bus from Oxford, through London (to see more of the sites), and then to a train station where we boarded the train for a ride through the Chunnel. We arrived in Paris later that day and checked into an expensive but not really nice hotel. I mean, it was ok, but hardly worth what the tour company must have paid for it.
The next morning we took a bus tour around Paris and saw some amazing things. The rest of the day we spent being quiet; we had travelled around a lot and just wanted to enjoy being in one place for a while. The next morning we boarded buses to drive through Luxembourg to Germany to board the ship that was going to sail us through Germany for the next week.
We had to walk a little distance to get to where the ship was docked and by the time we got to our room on the second floor I felt awful. I was out of breath (no big surprise considering my size) and starting to feel nauseated. I vomited a few times but was mostly concerned about the pain in my chest, left arm, and left jaw. I knew I was having a heart attack but I didn’t want to face it. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell my friend about the pain. We went down to dinner during which I just tried to stay conscious. Finally dinner was over and I made my way back to the room where I vomited some more and generally felt lousy. I still had pain and was worried. I knew I should get help but just didn’t want it to be true and didn’t want to ruin the trip. I spent a completely sleepless night thoroughly miserable and, finally, in the morning I told my friend that I needed a doctor.
The doctor and ambulance workers arrived a short time later and they performed an EKG after which the doctor told me they were taking me to the hospital. Luckily all the other passengers had already left for the day’s excursion so I didn’t make too much of a scene as the settled me on the stretcher and pushed me into the ambulance. Shortly afterward, thanks to the emergency lights and sirens that got us through a traffic jam, I arrived at a hospital in Trier, Germany. They examined me and asked me questions and tried to convert pounds and inches into kilograms and centimeters. They told me I had indeed had a heart attack and would need to undergo a catheterization procedure.
They hurried me into the radiology department and performed the procedure during which they inserted a stint into one of my arteries that lead to the heart. Afterward they told me that the other two arteries were blocked and that I’d have to have a heart bypass surgery within six to eight weeks and that I’d have to stay in the hospital for five to seven days before they would allow me to travel home. They really wanted me to have the surgery there, but there was no way that was going to happen if I could help it. I wanted to be at home for something that major.
I spent the next two days in intensive care and then six days in a regular cardiac hospital ward. During my first day in the cardiac ward I received a visit from Mr. Billen, the lovely man from billing. A mere two days after a heart attack he informs me that I most likely won’t be allowed to leave the hospital until I’ve paid my bill. Ok, that scared me. Was I going to be stuck indefinitely in a German hospital? Luckily we had purchased trip insurance and after a few days of numerous phone calls we started the process for getting the hospital bill paid. My mother ended up having to wire 5,000 Euros to the hospital (this would later be reimbursed by the insurance company) thus ensuring they would indeed release me.
I spent eight days in a German hospital where most of the people did not speak English (although there were a few nurses who were pretty fluent). There was no TV to watch and I read in one day the only book I brought. It was decided that my friend would travel on with the tour rather than stay with me in Trier because the tour was already paid for and the hotel for her to stay in Trier would be an added expense. I was feeling physically ok and was bored out of my mind. I had plenty of time to worry about things and that’s just what I did. But I knew that stress would only make my situation worse so I tried to redirect my thoughts to more positive things. During this time I lived for the phone calls from home that would bring me updates on my friend who was travelling with me and how things were progressing through the insurance process.
One of the phone calls from home, however, brought quite a shock: my friend had had a seizure and was in the hospital. Oy. She spent the night in the hospital then continued on with the tour, although she felt terrible. By the time she got to Prague, she felt bad enough that she went back to the hospital where she spent another night and then was cleared to travel by the doctors.
During this time the insurance company was waiting to hear my release date to make the arrangements to travel home. Finally, on a Friday, they told me that I could leave the hospital on the following Tuesday and was free to travel on Wednesday. Now it was just the matter of getting plane tickets. Luckily the insurance company has some great employees and Terry was able to get us flights on Wednesday to return home. I would fly from Luxembourg to Amsterdam where I would meet up with my friend and we would travel to Minneapolis together then fly into Cedar Rapids. My first flight was delayed, however, and I missed my flight. But it worked out because they were pulling my friend off the plane because they questioned whether she was fit to fly. After a trip to the airport hospital (who even knew they had such a thing?) we had new tickets arranged for us and were back on track to get home that night.
Finally we arrived in Cedar Rapids after a very long day of travel. The next morning I called and made an appointment with a cardiologist for the following day. That day was today and I left the doctor’s office with the possibility of either having more stints put in or having bypass surgery. I REALLY didn’t want the surgery but I just got off the phone with the nurse and, after looking at the images from my catheterization, told me it would be surgery for me. Not what I wanted to hear. So now I’m facing a very scary surgery, a scar on my chest, and possibly the disfigurement of one of my tattoos.
I feel like I should have a t-shirt made up that says, “I went to Germany and I’ll I got was this stinking stint!”