Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ignoring Chest Pains for TCM Metropolis Premiere Almost Cost My Life

I am posting on my blog, because a 140 character tweet just couldn't do justice for the explanation for why I suddenly stopped my maniacal tweeting for TCM the 2 months. November 8th was a typical lazy Sunday except I was full of anticipation like every other true movie enthusiast for the premier of the 2010 renovation of Metropolis at 10pm ON TCM that night. An otherwise typical Sunday was eventually interrupted by a nagging pain whenever I took deep breaths. For most of the morning I blamed this mild irritation on the new core exercises my physical therapist got me started on Friday. By night fall this minor irritation had developed into panting to avoid the growing pain I felt with each full breath. After some conversation with my lupus Facebook friends, the self diagnosis became pleurisy. Inflammation of the sac enclosing the lung is a common condition for lupus patients. They all said go to ER immediately. My best friend was all ready to take me. BUT I ignored my lupus Facebook friends advice and told my best friend it wasn't too bad yet. She could pick me up before work in the morning, drop me off at the ER, I would get a round of steroids and be done by the time she got off work. I did not disclose to anyone that I just really really didn't want to miss the TCM television premiere of the Kino 2010 restored, complete Metropolis including lost 25 minutes that has not been seen for 83 years. Being the classic movie nerd that I am, not only did I enjoy TCM's broadcast. Afterward, I simultaneously viewed the Full German Director's cut side by side with the English Titled 2001 renovation comparing frame by frame. I was up til dawn when my friend picked me up to go to ER. A 15 year lupus veteran, having had pleurisy lots of times, I felt absolutely no anxiety. They did EKG immediately. In my previous experience that was a routine precaution with any chest discomfort. While one nurse worked me over for an IV, the other whispered something about the EKG and they quickly fled the room and returned with a team of doctors including a cardiologist with a pen and papers to sign for a heart catherization to check for blockage. Whoa, wait a minute. This is not in the script! Whose directing this scene? CUT!!! I wanted to wait for my best friend. But they warned me every second could be lethal to my heart tissue. They also warned if blockage found they would immediately do the surgery to correct it. It didn't take long for them to inform me no blockage was found. I felt relieved and confident the director would get back to MY SCRIPT with the pleurisy diagnosis. The nurse spent quite some time putting pressure on my cath incision trying to stop the bleeding.(FORESHADOWING) My best friend and pastor met me in my ICU room. With my own anxieties gone I was trying to relieve her fears. She had received a message from hospital saying I had a heart attack! Oh nothing of the sort, I said. I feel fine. Its just hurts when I breath deeply. I have had much worse pain with pleurisy, so it couldn't be that bad. I began to chit chat with the pastor about the some work I'd done for church website. SCRIPT CHANGE: Suddenly severe nausea hit me and although I was lying securely flat against pillows I felt as if I was falling very very fast. Amidst the casual conversation that continued in the scene in front of me, I became the 4TH WALL. I tried to yell out, "I'm sick! I'm falling! Raise me up!" A gray tunnel enclosed my view as I felt myself rapidly floating backwards away from the scene like a character in a Spike Lee flick. It was curtains for me!

I awoke. The scene was a darkened hospital room. In the chair in the corner I saw a figure wrapped in a blanket. It was my son. I must be dreaming because he's 500 miles away at college. They probably gave me some IV dilaudid with the steroids. That always knocks out my memory and gives me sweet dreams. I thought it was late Monday night. I must have slept all day. The next time I awoke my son was smiling right in my face teasing me, "So you decided to join us?" He was really there holding my hand. This scene was real.

It was the next morning before I realized a week had past. I had missed the climax in the plot of a medical drama that starred me. I was told I was at a different hospital ICU. I found out that I had not fainted. I stopped breathing. It was CODE BLUE! My heart stopped beating. Unable to be resuscitated I was put on life support and flown by helicopter from my home town to the nearest major medical center for emergency cardiac surgery and had been on life support until God's grace brought me out. A real tear jerking happy ending. Miracles don't just happen in the MOVIES.

In summary, my heart stopped as a result of cardiac tamponade, which is caused by a large or uncontrolled pericardial effusion, i.e. the buildup of fluid inside the pericardium. This commonly occurs as a result of chest trauma, but may have other causes. My case was due to inflammatory response of my lupus as well as complications from taking anticoagulant therapy to manage my other illness, APS. Both lupus and APS or Antiphospholipid Syndrome are invisible incurable autimmune illness that may be life threatening. Unfortunately the only drugs available to manage these diseases have toxic side effects themselves. Apparently my lupus had caused pericarditis (inflamed my heart sac) whilst my anticoagulants had lowered my blood clotting ability allowing 3.5 liters of blood [imagine 3 large 1 L pop bottles] to fill up the pericardium squeezing the heart until it stopped beating.

Update: All my tubes are gone. Chest staples removed. ECG looking great. I have made remarkable recovery considering the surgeons warned my loved ones I might not even survive the surgery. Its two months later, I am recovering at home back in front of the tube with my laptop tweeting and watching TCM ...

For more information about me, my illness and my advocacy...
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Who is the mysterious TCManiac?

First, I'll tell you who I am not. I am not affiliated with TCM. I am not some superbot created by software developers. I am not being paid by TCM or anyone else to dedicate my time to tweeting. I am a real flesh and blood human being. I am a real maniac for TCM. I really do keep my TV tuned to TCM 24-7. I created the TCManiacs twitter as a result of my sincere passion for watching Turner Classic Movies.

How I got started?
Well, I've been a fan of TCM since its inception. As I lay flat on my back recovering from a disabling health crisis unable to do little more than watch TV and surf the internet, I found refuge watching TCM round the clock. I soon developed an obsessive habit of keeping a browser tab open for the TCM schedule and beating Robert Osbourne's introductions to finding out facts for upcoming movies. My entire day and night became defined by the TCM line-up. At the beginning of 2009 I decided to check out twitter and lucked up on some fellow TCM fans to friend. During the 31 days Oscar I decided to dedicate a twitter just to share my TCM obsession by tweeting about every movie every day of February. I was totally overwhelmed by the number of fellow TCM maniacs that became my following. Its been a WIN WIN in everyway for me. I have had the opportunity to share fun stuff with some incredible fellow classic movie lovers and bloggers. With so many followers I became committed to maintaining the twitter schedule and finding fun stuff for upcoming TCM movies.
How may followers show appreciation?
As I mentioned before, I am not employed by anyone nor being paid for my time maintaining tweets and blog. However, you may express your appreciation for my labor of love by dropping a token of your appreciation in the hat. Simply click the Donate button below. Any amount your heart moves you to give no matter how small will be graciously accepted.
What you mean to me?
Even if you decide to skip tipping the hat, please take the time to comment or send a message with your thoughts and suggestions. Send ideas on more fun stuff you would like featured. Send me links to your own classic movie websites. I just want to hear from you! Let me know what sharing my little obsession is worth to you. Every follower is priceless to me!

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