Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
In January 2004 I dreamed,
Three ravens are pecking away at pink insulation in my house.
This did not feel like a good dream. Something dark was eating at me, and something internal and vulnerable was becoming exposed and compromised. I was having increasing difficulty recovering after exercising, and my long walks were getting much shorter. This was similar to the way I felt back in early January 2001, when I needed my first stent.
Once again I flew to Anchorage, which has the closest cardiologists to Fairbanks. After surviving the placement of another stent, I felt relieved–even though I was having intense chest pain. I was told that my continuing pain was a by-product of the surgery and that it would gradually diminish. The nurses kept asking me if I wanted more painkillers, more morphine. “Sure,” I readily replied.
As I was talking to the head nurse, the world suddenly started looking like a TV channel with no reception, and I passed out. I woke up several minutes later with the same nurse shaking me into consciousness. I learned that my heart had slowed down to about ten beats per minute, that an emergency Code Blue had been called, and I that had been given two shots of epinephrine to restart my heart. The nurse, who had worked on the cardiology unit for about twenty years, told me that she had never before seen a reaction like this following the placement of a stent.
The doctor was called, and once again I was headed back into surgery, this time late at night. My wife and I had one of those serious talks that couples facing unknown surgery have, and we said goodbye.
No one ever explained to me what triggered this strange reaction after the first surgery, but my feeling is that I was simply given too much morphine. After spending several extra days in the hospital, I returned home to Fairbanks and its temperatures of 40 degrees below zero. I vowed that the next time I was released from a hospital in winter, I would go to Hawaii rather than Fairbanks.