Laid Up

In the comment thread in the previous post I mentioned that I felt unwell enough to visit the hospital on Tuesday. I haven’t left yet. Here’s the story.

This past weekend I made a quick trip to visit some of the Pollack clan in California; the flight back on Sunday was delayed for a very long time by bad weather at JFK, and I didn’t get to bed back home until after three in the morning. I was up early on Monday, very weary, and never really got back to normal. On Tuesday I felt pretty crummy all day, and when I left my office to pick up some lunch at about one-thirty I found myself feeling very lightheaded in the summer heat, with a strange fluttery feeling in my chest and a slight tingling in the fingers of my left hand. This was worrisome, and when it didn’t go away even after I got back to the office I thought that the prudent thing for a 225-pound, 52-year-old man to do under such circumstances was to get to the hospital, just in case.

When I got to the ER at NYU Medical Center, a few blocks away, I was ushered in at once — stocky middle-aged geezers with symptoms like mine go to the front of the line — and while my ECG looked normal, my blood pressure was an unwelcome 198/100, and my blood, while showing none of the proteins that indicate a heart attack, contained an excessive amount of potassium. I was given a glass of some kaolin-based muck and an injection of insulin to sequester some potassium, and told I was going to be admitted. By about two a.m. I was in a room on the 13th floor.

This morning I had a “nuclear stress test” — a treadmill test with an injection of technetium-99 to mark blood supply to muscle tissue — and an echocardiogram. Though my performance on the treadmill was deemed “excellent”, the simultaneous ECG suggested the possibility of a slight ischemia at high heart rates, and the echocardiogram showed that my aorta is somewhat narrowed.

I had hoped to be sent on my way, as I was feeling fine, but when a cardiologist reviewed the results he bade me tarry another night, as he wished to see me in the morning. I was also told to eat and drink nothing after midnight, and was given an injection of some heparin-style blood thinner, all of which makes me think that a cardiac catheterization and an angiogram await me on the morrow.

Thanks for all your comments and good wishes; I do in fact expect to survive. I’ll post an update as soon as I can, if so. If not, blogging will, as they say, be light.

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  1. Well, good thing that this narrowed aorta was found before it got worse. Get better soon, Malcolm.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted July 30, 2008 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thanks, Jeffery. I will.

    Posted July 30, 2008 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
  3. JK says


    I’ve gotten in touch with your doctors and they agreed with my concerns. Expect an endostemic examination as well. We all expect a video.

    Drink your fluids. No solids after mignight.


    Posted July 30, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink
  4. Charles says

    So it was something serious… I hope that the doctors take good care of you and your body gets back on track.

    For whatever it’s worth, I’ll be praying for you.

    (And, for the record, I could do without the video of the endostemic exam, but I’m probably the exception.)

    Posted July 30, 2008 at 10:31 pm | Permalink
  5. Get well soon, Malcolm.

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 5:36 am | Permalink
  6. JO says

    it gives me shudders to read this as I KNOW exactly what you are going through-I have all of this done every few months-I am sure they are feeding you a heart healthy diet in the hospital, so before it becomes “official” that you have to eat like that, have your family sneak you in some cheeseburgers!
    Did they let you have your laptop in the hospital or are you using something else to blog-

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Thank you all! After a chat with the cardiologist this morning he has now had a chance to look at the echocardiogram himself, and thinks my aorta is probably fine. He still wants to do an angiogram anyway, though, as there may be coronary blockages, though probably nothing major.

    Jeanie, thanks – yes, my lovely wife Nina lugged my enormous laptop down to the hospital. I don’t deserve such a good woman. I am awfully sorry that you have to endure this sort of thing on a regular basis. I must be nearing my own thousand-shocks quota soon, I think.

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  8. MikeZ says


    Sounds like better news… get well soon, man!

    Oh… and please tell the doctors and nurses to quit interrupting your IM sessions! :-)

    – M

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  9. Kevin Kim says

    Hang tough! Jeanie O. told me something was up. Sorry to be late to the party.

    Get well soon,


    Posted July 31, 2008 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  10. But at least you got a chance to catch up on your sleep!

    Best Wishes

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 10:21 am | Permalink
  11. the one eyed man says

    Sorry to hear you are laid up! Best wishes to you, your family, and your aorta.

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:42 am | Permalink
  12. Bob Wyman says

    Malcolm, get well soon. Please!

    bob wyman

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  13. bob koepp says

    Malcolm – I hope whatever tests and procedures you’re being subjected to turn up gloriously negative. You’re at the age, though, where you’ll probably need to be mindful about the toll on your body from a life of wild abandon. Bummer.

    Posted July 31, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink
  14. peter says


    I hope they conclude nothing serious. And if something is up, they deal with quickly and efficiently. Whatever it is, get well fast and take good care of yourself. I am on the road now, MN, visiting my gf who had brain surgery at the Mayo clinic.

    be well and do not stress


    Posted August 1, 2008 at 8:09 am | Permalink
  15. Malcolm says

    Thank you Peter — I think I am going to be fine. And you must be terribly worried about your girlfriend; we all hope she has a speedy and complete recovery from her surgery. Take good care of her.

    How fragile we are.

    Posted August 1, 2008 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  16. Gus says


    Just catching up on my feeds and I saw this stunning news. Best of luck for speedy recovery.


    Posted August 1, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  17. Malcolm says

    Thanks Gus – it now looks as if I’m going to be fine.

    Posted August 1, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink