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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

How I drove to the hospital during a heart attack

I knew I had to get to the hospital as quickly as I could. I ran into the store and told Lu Lu to come out of the store. I told her that I was very sick and needed to get to the hospital right away. I knew that the Suburban Hospital Emergency room was the closest in the neighborhood. As I was driving on old Georgetown Road towards the hospital I told Lu Lu that I had a heart-attack. She said, "please, God, help my husband". I had unbearable chest pains and I was perspiring heavily, but in my mind I knew I had to get to the hospital very fast. I drove through all the red traffic lights and in no time my car was parked in front of the hospital emergency room. I walked straight in and told one of the nurses that I had a heart-attack. Within no time I was laying in the emergency room on one of the hospital beds. All kinds of tests were taken and I was injected with medicine. Not long after that my whole body started to shake like I lost control over my nervous system. I was very emotional and couldn't keep my tears back from crying. I was only a short time in the emergency room when Mrs. Virginia Camalier arrived. I am sure Lu Lu had given her the bad news. It felt real good to see Mrs. Camalier standing near my bed. She was always like a mother to us and always there when we needed her. It was a great physical support to see Mrs. Camalier and Lu Lu in the emergency room as I was told that I had a severe heart-attack and needed to be transferred to the Coronary Intensive Care unit. I even asked the doctor in the emergency room after my treatments if I could go home. He laughingly said, "I wish I could send you home, but you are very sick and we have to keep you in the hospital for a little while".

Heart attack 

I was diagnosed as having an acute myocardial infraction and was kept in the Coronary Intensive Care unit with a nurse watching over me for 24 hours a day. For six days I was kept in the hospital with no TV or phone. I just lay still in bed and wasn't allowed to do anything. The nurses even gave me a bath. Only close family members were allowed to visit me, and that was only Lu Lu. Many of my Burmese friends came to visit me as they told the nurses that they were related to Lu Lu. In the Burmese society once you become good friends, you automatically become brothers and sisters. I was hooked up to a monitor so that the nurses could keep a close check on my heart condition. I had several IVs in my arms with medicine to prevent blood clots in my arteries. Every day the doctor came to visit me and checked the condition of my heart. During those days in the hospital so many things went through my mind. Suddenly you become so scared about the future, I felt like the whole world had crushed in on me. I was thinking that all the things I had worked so hard for were suddenly wiped away. You realize that you have something wrong with your heart, and don't know how serious it is.

One day the doctor came in and after he did some checking he told me that I would be transferred to Georgetown University Hospital. When I asked why, with a smiling face the doctor said, "we have to put a few new pipes in your chest". I am sure when the doctor said that he didn't mean any harm, but I was already scared and uncertain about the future, and just to know that your chest had to be opened to do this kind of operation, you suddenly panic. What I didn't like about the doctor was to hear him talk like my body was like a plumbing job, and that's what made me angry. So I told the doctor that he was going to do nothing and that he talked like a plumber. I told him that it was my body and I would decide what to do with it. I told the doctor that I wanted a second opinion from another doctor which was a friend of mine. I had visited his office before I had my heart-attack, but he had moved his practice from Maryland State to Virginia and he was not able to treat me. The next day my doctor from Virginia came to the Suburban Hospital and had a long talk with my cardiologist. After that he came into my room and told me not to worry about anything and go to Georgetown University Hospital. The doctor who was going to treat me at Georgetown university Hospital had been one of my doctor's associates. After my friend the doctor had talked to me I felt much more at ease.

I will always remember the long ride down Wisconsin Avenue in the ambulance with the sirens constantly going. Today whenever I see or hear an ambulance, it brings back memories of my own experience. I had always heard and read that the Georgetown University Hospital was one of the best hospitals around the Washington area, but I changed my mind real quick the way I was treated when I arrived. I wasn't five minutes in my hospital bed yet when two nurses came in and told me that the IV which was left in my arm by the Suburban Hospital couldn't be used and had to be replaced. Those IV needles are very long and painful. It looked to me that both nurses were students of the University and were practicing on my arm how to put in an IV needle. They tried several times and couldn't find the right artery. They even argued who would start first. I wasn't impressed by their services at all.

CONTINUED: My balloon angioplasty
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index