Jay Beeler

Last Friday I was experiencing symptoms of what I believed to be a heart attack. This would not be rare for someone 75 years of age who takes medications for high blood pressure. But this time it was different. In addition to the chest discomfort I sometimes feel and attribute to shortness of breath (and the need to take deeper breaths) there was this pain in my teeth and the right side of my jaw, plus being a little light headed.

If you Google these symptoms the answer suggests that it could be a heart attack, so here I was at the horns of a dilemma. Should I go to urgent care or should I wait? With a big 50th anniversary party planned for two weeks from now I decided it was best to avoid turning the party into a celebration of life.

At MemorialCare on Bellflower I was treated like a trauma patient with rapid processing through the various stages of checking weight, blood pressure, temperature and finally the placement of probes to monitor the heart. At this stage the teeth/jaw pain still persisted but the EKG did not show abnormal activity. Still, the doctor thought it best that I go to the Long Beach Memorial Emergency Department, where they do more in-depth testing.

I felt fine enough to drive versus allowing them to call paramedics for what would amount to a very expensive Code 3 cab ride of $2,000. Recently it was announced that Community Hospital would not be opening on the target date of Jan. 1st, but if it was open I would still want to be at a first-class hospital like Memorial for anything life threatening.

My processing at Memorial was just as rapid as the urgent care center. In no time at all they extracted five vials of blood and had me on a heart monitoring device that probed 16 different areas of the body.

Just as rapidly I found my family standing next to me. “How did you get in here and why did the security team let you in?” is what I was thinking, but glad they were there for me.

By now the “super aspirin” given to me at the Bellflower facility had kicked in and my symptoms were gone. I felt fine and asked “Can I go home now?” and the doctors thought I needed more testing and should be admitted.

The biggest wait was getting a bed in the cardiac unit where I would be monitored constantly. On Saturday I was slated for a nuclear medicine scan that would examine every nook and cranny of the heart as well as other cross-sections of the body. This procedure was performed before and after undergoing treadmill stress tests, which went well.

In the final analysis the blood enzymes did not detect a heart attack and the testing unveiled some heart arrhythmias worthy of monitoring. My blood sugar level exposed the fact that too much Christmas candy is not a good thing unless you want to become a diabetic patient for the rest of your life.

Still I’m wondering what caused the teeth and jaw pain along with dizziness. Maybe our readers can shed some light on this topic.

Thirty hours later I was allowed to go home, comforted by the fact I’d live another day and get to see the many dozens of relatives and friends who will be gathering at The Grand to celebrate the 50 years of marriage for my wife and I.

But there was still the Beachcomber Christmas party at our house on Sunday, for which I lost valuable preparation time. There was cleaning to be done, food to be purchased and all sorts of things needed for a party to be successful.

Thankfully my son, Jeff, and his girlfriend, Amy, pitched in to help with the preparations. Squeezing two days of necessary activity into 12 hours was like a second stress test, but all went well with the HoneyBaked Ham and spiked eggnog being popular with the attendees.

The experience makes one appreciate that we still have two first-class hospitals – including St. Mary Medical Center – available when we need them as well as the many professionals who staff these facilities, keeping the citizens of Long Beach healthy.

Merry Christmas!



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