LUCKY GARVIN: The Broken Heart

Lucky Garvin

The sixty year old woman came to the ER one week after her stomach pain started. Her nurse came to us and said, “She doesn’t look good at all.” And she didn’t. Our nurses are of inestimable value in giving us fore-warning that a given patient needs immediate attention.

Her EKG was catastrophic: acute heart attack involving at least 60% of her heart. In other words, her heart’s ability to circulate needed blood was only 35-40% of what it should be. No surprise, she was in shock. There was a noisy heart murmur. Her only complaint was stomach pain, and indeed it was surgically tender. Oh Heavens! A surgical abdominal condition which might kill her, and a heart condition just about to.

We consulted a cardiologist who felt we needed a CT of her abdomen before her trip to the cath lab; a hard but not unreasonable judgment. Before you could say ‘cardiac arrest’, while in the scanner, her heart stopped and resuscitation was begun.

I ran with the others from the ER to the CT suite, and found the ‘Code Blue Team’ bent to their task. In one of the strangest clinical events I’ve ever witnessed, if you compressed her chest, she would open her eyes and look at you. “We’re trying to save your life!” we said; she nodded understanding.

Her gaze focused on her would-be saviors. Urgent competent hands sought to do for her heart what it could no longer do for itself. But stop compressions and she ‘died’, only to wake again when compressions were re-instituted. Medicines made no difference. So what can you do, compress her chest forever?

Soon however, even compressions failed and she died, but not before a sonogram demonstrated that this harsh murmur was a ruptured septum. In other words, the wall which separated her heart’s two left chambers from her two right chambers had been destroyed by her heart attack leaving her, in effect, with a single chambered heart which weakly propelled oxygenated blood mixed with non-oxygenated blood into her failing organs. Death sat on her shoulder.

Each of our conclusions come with a crawl or a pounce. The dear lady had no hope. Finally, within the hour, her sweet spirit stood at Heaven’s gate, where, I am sure, was granted a ready admission.

Lucky Garvin

Look for Lucky’s latest books on Amazonsmile : My Butler, The Adventures of Napoleon [the kitten who thought he was a dog], and Cemone’s Trilogy.


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