This is why I haven’t been posting as much.
Friday, February 28
Like I said, I’d pretty much been self-isolating for a while, at this point. However, against my better judgement, I was still indulging in certain restaurants, courtesy of Talabat.
For example, I’d been craving Pancakes for what felt like forever, so on February 28, I went ahead and ordered Lotus Pancakes from The Breakfast Club at 6:30 in the morning.
They tasted pretty good, especially when coupled with a Torabika Cappuccino (my fave psuedo-coffee drink, since December 2018) from my obscenely large mug (shown here) and topped off with an insanely satisfying cigarette!
Unfortunately, something in my stomach felt… off.
I couldn’t risk getting food poisoning or whatever else was happening to me. I didn’t know what the issue was, but with this whole coronavirus thing going around, I really, really, really didn’t want to be visiting any hospitals. So, I went to the bathroom and stuck my finger down my throat (TMI? Sorry lol).
Typically, I could throw up at will (as mentioned in my Hiatus Hernia Post), but strangely enough, for some unknown reason this time I just couldn’t and ended up having to use my fingers. I still felt weird afterwards, all morning and well into the afternoon. Eventually, around 5pm I decided to get some sleep, hoping I’d feel normal when I woke up.
I woke up around 9:00 at night and had 2 more cups of Torabika Cappuccino, while I went about my usual routine (all while chainsmoking).
Later on, I watched the news on YouTube (to stay up to date on the whole ‘rona business) and eventually got around to doing a little bit of work on my blog (still chainsmoking).
Around midnight, I started craving actual food, so I went to the Kitchen.
Saturday, February 29
On my way to the Kitchen, I felt my heart… go crazy.
I don’t know how to accurately describe it, but I’ll try my best. It felt like there was a little bird flapping its little wings and struggling to get out from my chest.
My heart would beat faster and faster, significantly increasing in speed and then suddenly, go back to a more normal heart rate. The whole thing probably took no more than a few seconds, but for someone experiencing it, it kinda’ felt like it took forever.
Already accustomed to my heart issues from about 2-3 years ago (deets here), I decided to ignore the heart palpitations and just keep walking.
My heart continued to speed up and slow down, again and again and again. I was starting to get anxious, but convinced myself that having some food in me would probably solve the issue.
So, I calmly cut up a nice, juicy, red apple and forced myself to eat at least 2 of the 4 slices before giving up. Let me tell you, when you think you’re going to die, the last thing you wanna’ do is eat lol The heart palpitations kept coming and going and I was legit starting to freak out now!
Even though everyone was already fast asleep (not that my pride would’ve let me wake them up anyway), I didn’t want to go back to my place and potentially die alone. So, I plopped down on the couch in the living room (in plain view of everyone, in case I did die lol) and proceeded to play a bunch of games on my phone to distract myself. Basically, I was hoping if I ignored the issue, it would fix itself by itself (my philosophy in life).
An hour later, while laying on my back on the couch, still playing on my phone, I noticed that the heart palpitations had stopped. So, I got up and just as I was getting up, my heart started fluttering again. I felt my blood run cold. I’d never experienced anything quite as intense as this before. It was so scary!
Was I having a heart attack or a stroke? Was it dental-work related (dis)? Was it a potassium imbalance that could be solved by just having a banana? Was this happening because I’d accidentally ruptured something when I’d self-induced regurgitation earlier?
Did it have something to do with my curved nails (pics)? Had my years of smoking finally caught up with me? Was my body simply dehydrated? Was it gas (lol)? Was it cancer (sooo not lol)? I needed answers. So, I lay back down and went ham googling my symptoms. As you can imagine, that led nowhere.
The Road Trip
Meanwhile, this was the longest and most intense session of heart palpitations I’d ever experienced and it kept coming in waves, or a crescendo rather. In any case, at around 3:30 in the morning, I’d just about had enough. I got dressed, threw on a surgical mask and made my way to the Hospital.
Our neighborhood clinic was closed down for the weekend (plus, it was really late/early). So I headed to AlSager Specialized Health Center (Adailiya) which was open 24/7.
I didn’t know how to get there and had to use my phone, except my phone was about to run out of battery charge (less than 10%). Also, apparently I hadn’t dressed warmly enough and was legit freezing because February/March Nights in Kuwait were brutal.
Plus, I had to stop at every single traffic light, because they all happened to be red, which frustrated me to end, because I could still feel my heart fluttering uncontrollably, but also, I needed my phone to get directions to the hospital and the thing was about to die on me, any second now. The whole thing was a nightmare! lol
I decided to send a voice note on WhatsApp to one of my brothers (the one I’m closest to in age) telling him I was on my way to the AlSager Hospital because my heart was acting up and that my phone was about to die, just in case someone from home (read: my parents) noticed that my car was missing on the CCTV.
In my panic-ridden brain, it occurred to me that the issue might’ve been from my lungs. Maybe I’d been sniffing too many Scented Candles and Scented Shower Gels over the past few weeks (U.S. B&BW Haulage) and had somehow messed up my lungs.
So, just after a fresh onslaught of more heart palpitations, I clocked the B&BW Vanilla Bean Noel Car Fragrance (dis) nestled in the B&BW Visor Clip (dis) which was clipped in the passenger side’s visor, opened the window on my side and stuck my head partially out the window, taking big gulps of painfully cold yet fresh and unscented air and proceeded to drive the rest of the way like that lol
I don’t believe I was actually a danger to anyone because I wasn’t on a highway/freeway. I was actually lost in in the backstreets of Adailiya, which was a residential area. Plus, this was early morning and aside from certain areas, the roads were practically abandoned. More importantly, between having my head partially outside the window (sounds absurd in hindsight LOL but I was legit scared at the time and didn’t know what to do) and trying to follow directions to the place, I wasn’t driving fast, like, at all.
The Frosty Welcome
Once I finally arrived at AlSager Hospital, instead of taking my Civil ID Card from me, the attendant behind the clear panel asked me to read out the number, so he could put it in the system. It was the right thing to do, especially what with the coronavirus rapidly spreading around the world, but somehow, I still felt a bit… taken aback.
Prior to this, I hadn’t seen nor heard of anyone in Kuwait taking the proper precautions against Covid-19. When it came to the people I knew, as far as they were concerned, it was just “something on the news”. As a matter of fact, I found their nonchalance infuriating. This thing was serious!
With that being said, at the time of this particular hospital visit, I truly thought I was dying lol and trying to get to the darn place was an adventure in and of itself! Plus, it was painfully cold outside. I was exhausted and freezing and terrified, all at once. Where was my warm welcome?
To be fair, the man was nothing but polite. I’m sure he was just following procedure which was 100% the right thing to do. However, my mind was not at its calmest, at the time. Also, I didn’t actually say anything to him about any of this, I was merely internalizing it lol
The On-Call Doctor
In stark difference to the attendant, the female doc wasn’t even wearing a surgical mask or gloves. Immediately, I thought of all the patients that had visited her before me and my blood ran cold, again. I got over it seconds later. I mean, there was no help for it now because I was already there lol
I told her about my issue (even showed her my curved nails, thinking it might’ve been lung-related), but all she asked was if I drank a lot of coffee or was under a lot of stress. I told her that if she counted instant cappuccino as coffee, than yeah, I drink tons and tons of it, on the regular.
While experiencing severe distress, I managed to tell her that stress was a non-issue for me… with a completely straight face. I did tell her that my sleep was all over the place (I get 4 hours of sleep max, whenever I can get them) and that I was a chainsmoker.
Without any testing at all, let alone further questioning, she declared that coffee, cigarettes and stress, were the cause of my heart palpitations.
I tried explaining to her that I’ve been chainsmoking since I was a teen and drinking pseudo-coffee drinks on and off since even before that, and that I was the least stressed out person to walk the earth, ever. Basically, I didn’t agree with her diagnosis and even if I did, why was this happening only now?
She told me to go home and sleep it off, assuring me my heart would return to normal once I woke up. She had this blase attitude which was really starting to bug me, especially since I was still getting heart palpitations as we spoke. Much to my regret, I told her that I was still getting heart flutters and she reached out with her ungloved hand and held my wrist, for a beat!
That’s when she scheduled an EKG or Electrocardiogram which was administered by two very welcoming nurses in the next room. They gave me the warm welcome I’d needed (bedside manner A++)!
Aside from that, I asked the two Indian Nurses about the Egyptian Doctor who’d sent me to them, and they said that they didn’t know her very well, because she was “only the On-Call Doctor”. Oooh, fiesty! I liked them already!
I felt myself warm up to them, as they chattered away, while they were setting everything up… up until they told me I had to lift up my shirt and take off my bra. I tried and tried to talk my away out of it, but eventually just gave in.
As uncomfortable as I felt about being topless, at least I was finally going to get some answers after the EKG and for the first time in hours, I felt myself relax, if only for a few minutes.
While the machine recorded my heartbeat, not once did my heart flutter, but as soon as the machine stopped and they ripped out the paper with the results, my heart started fluttering abnormally again, almost instantly!
I told them that they’d missed it and they should “Do it again! Do it again! Quick!”, but they said that wasn’t how it worked. If there was something to be caught, the EKG would’ve already caught it. Naturally, I was devastated!
The Next Step
They asked me what the Doctor had said and when I told them she brushed it off as stress and coffee, the absolute darlings offered to go back to her with me and talk to her on my behalf! I’m telling you, they were the sweetest!
That said, I’m sure if I’d let them, we’d all be breaking about half a dozen rules at least and they’d end up getting fired or something.
As luck would have it, we bumped into her on our way to the outer waiting area and they confronted her then. They told her that they didn’t recommend letting me drive home and she told them that she recommended I go back home and sleep it off.
In the end, she wrote me a referral to Al-Amiri Hospital and said I could go straight away if I wanted, but she didn’t believe it was necessary. Truthfully, I didn’t want to go to Al-Amiri either and risk possibly catching the coronavirus.
The Sad Drive Back
There was nothing more that could be done. The On-Call Doctor had given me all that help that she was going to give. So, I thanked everyone and headed home to try to sleep it off, in the hopes that my heart would go back to normal once I woke up.
The heart palpitations kept coming and going. It felt like someone was squeezing my heart (in a non-painful way) and then letting go of it, over and over again. I felt so sad and so scared and so alone, which meant I really, really wasn’t in the mood for the boys on either side of my car, who were trying to flirt at this ungodly hour. Somehow, the whole thing made me feel even sadder.
Back home, even though I was physically exhausted (from being in a heightened state of fear for a long duration of time) I was still too scared to sleep. I had no appetite. I couldn’t focus on reading or watching anything. I wanted to take a nice long shower but was scared I’d die in the shower (naked). I was too scared to do anything really. So, I charged my phone and tried to distract myself by getting on my computer (I don’t ‘x with laptops) and going on YouTube.
YouTube was easier to swallow and less of a commitment than say a tv show or movie on Netflix or a novel on my Kindle or whatever else. Granted some of the Podcasts I watch/listen to exceeded 3 hours (LOTR territory).
After browsing around, I clicked on trending and saw BTS Carpool Karaoke on The Late Late Show With James Corden and for almost 17 minutes, my heart palpitations were forgotten! I’ve heard, and for whatever reason, ignored all BTS-related news, since the very start. I knew next to nothing about those guys, but once I watched the video, I was hooked!
Their were so many of them (7 in total) and they all looked so cute and the chemistry between them was very endearing! Once the video ended, the next one after that was BTS Performs “On” at Grand Central Terminal on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. These guys were wonderful entertainers! They really put on a show!
After that, I was obsessed (to this day) with the all-male South Korean Boy Band called Bangtan Boys (acronym for the Korean expression Bangtan Sonyeondan meaning Bulletproof Boy Scouts) also known as BTS! I spent hours watching songs and videos and clips of them on YouTube, of which there were many (an almost endless supply)! Apparently, everyone else loved these boys too!
Eventually, I got tired and crawled into bed to crash and slept for a good 5 hours straight and woke up around noon. Much to my disappointment, the heart palpitations were still happening in waves (thanks for nothing, on-call doc).
I started drinking a lot of water (maybe my body was dehydrated) and nibbled on a banana (maybe it was a potassium imbalance) hoping it would calm my heart, but nothing did. I hung out with my family and tried to play it cool, but was very conscious of my heart palpitations the entire time. It was hard to ignore.
At around 4:14pm I made an appointment with a cardiologist that I’ve been to in the past (around 2-3 years ago) at the International Clinic (Salmiya). The appointment was for the next day though and I was still feeling my heart flutter.
I hummed and hawed about it for so long that it was around 6pm when I finally decided to go to Al-Amiri Hospital (Sharq). I was so worried I’d catch the coronavirus, but I snatched the nearest B&BW Antibacterial PocketBac, put on a fresh surgical mask, grabbed my referral from AlSager Hospital and had our driver take me to Al-Amiri Hospital.
They seemed to have created a new makeshift area for Casualties, complete with its own electrically sealed sliding door. It felt like something set up by the CDC, in a low-budget contagious disease horror movie.
The place was packed and not everyone was wearing a mask. I had to wait outside the sealed off area for my turn and when it came up, I got to enter through the transparent sliding doors, to get looked at by 1 of the 4
On-Call Doctors On-Call Nurses! I was so confused. Where were the doctors?
The nurse asked me what was wrong while she was already wrapping the blood pressure monitor around my arm. I kept getting heart flutters and thankfully, this time the machine caught it! I saw the numbers on the blood pressure monitor fluctuate erratically and knew for sure that it had caught it and that the nurse had seen it. Success!
She jotted some things down and told me I should go back to the waiting area and they would call my name, once my turn came up. The Doctor would see me
shortly. Okay… glad I passed “the test”.
The Long Wait
I thanked her and left the makeshift area to sit down in one of the uncomfy seats in the waiting area (hoping I wouldn’t catch something). It would be a long time until I would hear them call my name again.
So, I pulled out my phone and got on Snapchat and watched my subscriptions. I didn’t feel like talking. I also didn’t have the patience nor presence of mind to text anyone on WhatsApp or play a game or even just watch YouTube. I’d also tried people-watching earlier, but at a hospital, it was just too depressing.
When my turn finally came (about an hour or so later), I entered another pair of sliding doors and was greeted by yet another Egyptian Doctor. My heart sank. I didn’t have much faith in Egyptian Doctors or Arab Doctors in general. To top it all off, unlike the rest of the staff, this dude wasn’t even wearing a mask *sigh*
I wished I could’ve had an Indian Doctor. The logic being India is a huge country and any Doctor would probably have had to treat a ton of patients before coming to Kuwait which meant he/she would’ve had plenty of experience and could’ve told me what was wrong with me.
There was nothing to be done. He asked me about my symptoms and once again brought up coffee and stress. I shrugged and told him I chainsmoked too. He scheduled an EKG and for some reason, a blood test.
I was led into one of the many smaller rooms and was followed by a nurse, who once again told me to take my shirt off, which I was less shy about doing this time. Once again the darn EKG missed the heart flutter. Once again I told the nurse. Once again, I was told that this wasn’t how the EKG worked.
Then someone else in another room took my blood and told me I needed to go back to the waiting area and wait for the results (which took almost another hour or so). While sitting (one leg crossed over the other), my heart started fluttering uncontrollably, as if it was being squeezed, over and over again.
The Ciggy Break
I spoke to someone there and they gave me another EKG and missed it, again. At this point, I was so done! I went outside by the side entrance (not the main parking area) and roamed around until I found a nice little cranny cloaked in darkness and had a cigarette break (with my surgical mask now wrapped around my wrist like a bracelet, completely defeating its purpose lol).
That cigarette was exhilarating! I truly had needed it! I sanitized my hands using the B&BW PocketBac that I’d brought with me, tied the mask around the lower half of my face and strolled back inside, with a little extra pep in my step!
After what felt like forever (I was so bored I was taking selfies and posting them on Snapchat), my name came up, again. The On-Call Doctor I’d spoken to earlier, said that the results of the EKG was fine (“both times”, he said almost accusingly) and that my bloodwork was normal.
Inside I was seething, but outside I thanked him politely and turned on my heel, to leave. As I was walking away, he called out, “Try to be more calm”, as if to rub salt in my wounds.
I couldn’t wait to get back home. I had another cigarette in the backseat on the way (the windows in the back were tinted and it was completely dark outside meaning I was barely visible) and another and another.
On Grey’s Anatomy, patients are usually diagnosed (told what’s wrong with them) and if somehow the Doctors on the fictional show couldn’t find what was wrong with the patient, they’d form the medical equivalent of a Swat Team, in order to find the problem.
It doesn’t go, “We can’t find what’s wrong with you, therefore there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re actually fine”.
My brother’s reply to all this was, “First of all, Grey’s Anatomy is a show. So and so is a Doctor and him as well as many, many, many of my other Doctor friends say Grey’s is the least accurate medical show, out of all of them. If you still don’t feel fine, get a second opinion.”
I was exhausted and terrified and now, also angry. I had a nice, long, hot shower, exfoliating every inch of my skin, to the extent that my skin started to sting and only then did I feel clean.
I forced myself to eat something afterwards, brushed my teeth and spent the rest of the night on YouTube watching Podcasts. Only once I was sufficiently drowsy (around midnight) did I go to my bedroom to sleep (making sure to leave the door unlocked, in case I did die).
Basically, I was in a constant state of fear. This was no way to live.
Sunday, March 1
My mind woke up before my body. I waited for a beat, to see if the heart palpitations were gone. They were!
I got up and felt my heart flutter right away. They were not gone! I felt so sad (I did not want to continue dealing with this thing) so I had a nice little cry about it lol
Afterwards, I had an apple and a cigarette for breakfast, got cleaned up and dressed (complete with a surgical mask) to go to my appointment at the International Clinic (Salmiya). I grabbed my my pile of papers (which were turning into quite a handful at that point) and my B&BW PocketBac on my way out.
I had another lovely cigarettes on the drive there (I wasn’t the one driving). Since it had been years since I had last been there, I kinda’ got lost, hence the cigarette. I managed to the find the place, eventually.
While all the patients looked dead behind the eyes, all the staff were masked, gloved and cheerful, which put me in a better mood! The place was busy, with people constantly coming and going.
I was still in a heightened state of fear, so the short climb up the steps to the first floor had me feeling faint. At the desk (I think it fitted 6-8 people, all sitting very far apart from each other), one of them asked if I had an appointment. I told her that I did and gave her my Civil ID Card and my K-Net (debit card) to pay the fee to see the Doc.
The wait was much shorter than the night before. The chairs were much comfier too! The Filipina Nurse recognized me from my last visit (several years ago) and greeted me with a warm smile! I was off to a good start!
My Doctor recognized me immediately as well. He listened to me and made eye contact the entire time. Not once did he interrupt me and as soon as I finished talking, he gave me a plan of action. It felt like I was in good hands (finally)!
He scheduled an EKG (topless), an Ultrasound (topless) and an X-ray (topless), topped off with some blood tests. It was definitely going to cost a lot of money, but I felt that it (or rather I) was worth it because the sooner I got some answers, the sooner I could get some peace of mind.
I asked him if he suspected anything in particular, but he said he couldn’t answer me just yet, because at that point, it could’ve been anything. He wanted me to go through testing first, so he could rule out some of the more serious conditions.
Once again, I felt like I was finally in good hands! The reason why I warmed up to this particular Doctor, wasn’t because according to my dad, his cardiologist claimed that my cardiologist was her mentor, nor because he was older (more experienced) and not even because he happened to be Kuwaiti.
The reason why I felt comfortable was because like me, he spoke mainly in English. I understood him perfectly. More importantly, I didn’t have to struggle to find the right words in Arabic for him to understand me.
The friendly Filipina Nurse led me back outside to the reception’s desk (or whatever it was called) to pay a ton of money for all the “necessary testing”. Then she led me downstairs to get an X-ray done.
Thanks to one of my readers on my Curved Nails Post (here), it occurred to me that my heart palpitations could’ve been lung-related. I disclosed this fear with the Doc and he told me that it was completely unrelated, but scheduled an X-ray to rule out other things, just the same.
As soon as I saw the gorgeous Filipina who spoke very Americanized English, I remembered that the last time I’d gotten an X-ray done was about 2-3 years ago, at the exact same place. The woman was stunning and looked like she belonged on Grey’s Anatomy lol
Then I went to the Lab for the Blood Tests, except there was a really long queue, which was my cue to bounce. I’d only taken the one cigarette with me and I needed to smoke now badly!
So, I walked all the way past The Cube and Laila Gallery, until I reached The Sultan Center, just to buy a pack of ciggs. It didn’t matter that the sun was boiling hot and that I was dressed for Winter. Heck, I barely broke a sweat. As a desert girl, I was built for this heat lol In fact, I reveled in it. It was the cold that I had an issue with.
Back at the International Clinic, they drew my blood and I was free to leave, while I waited for the results. I went back up the short flight of steps, for the final bout of testing. I had yet another EKG done (I was wearing a bralette which was not easy to take on/off) and finally the Ultrasound, at which point, my Doctor walked in to take a look at the monitor and left, but not before mumbling something about me looking malnourished (rude).
As I got dressed, I was practically floating with happiness in anticipation of finally knowing what was wrong with me and finally being able to take the proper steps to start fixing it right away! I patiently waited for my turn, outside my Doctor’s office, until the friendly Filipina Nurse called me in to see him.
He had all the results of my testing in front of him (I’d been there since early morning and it was now mid-afternoon). He took one look at my X-ray and declared my lungs perfect. He shuffled through some other papers and took his time before saying that aside from looking a bit malnourished (and that I should eat more chicken/meat for some protein), I seemed to be in good shape.
Almost randomly, he yelled out for the friendly Filipina Nurse and told her to hand me x3 Aspirin Pills (which I’ve never ever taken before in my life) and to call an ambulance for me, right away.
Erm… WTF? How did we go from great shape to call an ambulance?
I asked if I could go back home with my driver (completely safe because I wouldn’t be driving) and grab a few things like my Kindle (I remember how bored I was the last time) and a change of clothes (if I was going to spend the night) and my phone charger, etc… He shot that idea down so fast.
I told him that he was starting to scare me and he said as well I should be. He said something about the results of my blood test and that I had an abnormally high enzyme count, blah blah blah, whatever that meant. He said the blood tests at Al Amiri Hospital were more accurate than the one at the International Clinic.
So I called up one of my brothers (the one I was closest to) and instructed him to delete everything on my computer (format it or whatever) and burn my diaries, if I did die.
Also, to get the key to my apartment and grab me a change of clothes, phone charger and my beloved Kindle and hand them to the driver, to give to me at Al-Amiri Hospital (if I had to spend the night).
As considerate as ever, he asked if I needed him to come, but I told him not to (as scared as I was – and I was really, really scared – I prefer not to show fear and appear weak, in front of anyone, ever).
Once again, I was led all the way down to the ground floor again, where I was instructed to sit in a wheelchair (even though I was clearly able to walk) and wait for the ambulance to arrive.
The one thing that kept playing in my mind was that I hadn’t gone to Japan nor Korea yet! Also, this was how I die? Also, Japan and Korea. Also, THIS was how I die?
Angels of Death
While lost in my deep, deeep thoughts (and by that, I mean the opposite), these two very tall men with rippling muscles strutted in. They were my ride!
The driver was wearing a baseball cap backwards, had pierced ears and was chewing gum all nonchalant. Initially, I thought he was Filipino, but then he spoke fluent – I wanna’ say Urdu – with the other dude. My second guess would be Nepal, but I can’t say for certain. Either way, he looked so cool!
The other dude had the sleeves of his navy blue EMT uniform rolled up, which the showed rippled muscles in his forearms. He was the taller of the two and quite easily 6ft something. My guess would be that he was from India. Honestly, he looked insanely cool as well!
I could almost hear some sorta’ badass soundtrack playing in my head while they walked in slow-mo (in reality they were walking normally). They just looked so cool!
Was this what real men looked like? Unlike some Kuwaiti “men” (that I’d come across), I was willing to bet (my life!) that neither one of these two threw hissy fits if they didn’t get what they wanted. They didn’t seem like the type that would be whining about a sore muscle or toothache or whatever. They just seemed so manly!
I wondered if it was because of all the messed up things that they’ve seen in their line of work, that led to them developing this extremely chill aura.
The Ambulance Ride
In any case, papers were exchanged and even though I could walk, they wheeled me to the Ambulance.
Before anyone got any ideas of picking me up or whatever, I hopped out of the wheelchair and climbed into the Ambulance. The tall dude climbed with me in the back, while the driver closed the door and went round the front to drive us to Al-Amiri Hospital.
I was instructed to lie down on the gurney, so I did, imagining how many people had bled and died all over this particular gurney. More probable, how many Covid-19 patients had been on this particular gurney and was I now infected?
As I was thinking that, the dude wrapped the blood pressure monitor around my arm and popped the heartbeat monitor on my finger and instructed me to lie back. Yeah, if someone with the coronavirus had been in this Ambulance, I was deffo’ infected now.
My thoughts led me back to this was how I die? Also, not visiting Japan and Korea was a pretty big regret. I started spiraling again, so I decided to take some snaps of the Ambulance from the inside and post them on Snapchat. It was only a quick video of the word Ambulance, with the heart monitor beeping in the background and a single picture of the same thing.
Once I was done, I became painfully aware of the dude sitting adjacent to me. He must’ve thought I was a lunatic.
That said, when was I ever going to ride in an Ambulance on my own again and be fully conscious and have the presence of mind to take a picture of my surroundings (for posterity lol). I mean, generally, people who need an Ambulance are either dead or dying, or in a great deal of pain or accompanying someone who was one or more of those things.
In my attempt at making small talk, I asked if there was a defibrillator somewhere in there and he assured me it was directly on the other side of the blood pressure monitor. That was about all the “conversation” I could muster.
For the rest of the drive, I was lost in my own thoughts. I’d go from being terrified of dying (at least not this way) and then somehow talk myself into feeling calm about it (everyone dies… eventually) and then become terrified and then more accepting and so on, up until we reached Al-Amiri Hospital (Sharq).
Al-Amiri Hospital, Again
I insisted I could walk, but the dude insisted he wheel me to Casualties, which he did, handed me the X-ray folder (where I’d stuffed all the other papers) and then we parted ways.
I really, really didn’t want to be there. In my mind, everyone there was a walking incubator of the coronavirus. What if the heart palpitations were from an underlying condition that I didn’t know I had and once I’d contracted covid-19 from this place, I’d basically just signed my own death warrant?
I was allocated a bed, right away. That said, it took a lot out of me to climb into the bed (because I find hospital beds and hospitals in general, so gross). Also, the place was freezing and I was starving.
About 30-45mins later, a young female Kuwaiti Doctor approached me and asked me what was wrong. I told her I had heart palpitations and was sent here to Al-Amiri Hospital (Sharq) from the International Clinic (Salmiya) by my cardiologist.
She looked… lost. I wish I could’ve done something to help, but another Doc was passing by and he noticed she was in distress and told her what to write. Then he got stumped.
Not once did I feel safe in the hands of these… children. For starters, both of them were so young. Second of all, both of them were morbidly obese, the boy more so than the girl. As harsh as it may sound, it didn’t instill me with much confidence in either of them as Doctors.
Thankfully, a third Doctor was making the rounds and he came over to help the other two. He seemed to be their attending (thank you, Grey’s Anatomy for teaching me what an attending even is).
He asked me a few questions and kept interrupting me, to the point where I zoned out and started imagining myself giving him a good, hard slap. His bedside manner was horrible!
I voiced my concerns about my curved nails again (dis) so he pressed down on my nails (effectively bending them) and let them go again. He told me not to worry because what I was talking about was called “clubbed nails” and I didn’t seem to have that. Basically, he dismissed me, again.
30-45mins later, a nurse came by and drew my blood and handed it to whomever to take to the lab for some testing and whatever. After that point, it was just a waiting game.
Meanwhile, the calls and texts were nonstop! Several of my friends and cousins offered to come (even my brother called me up again and offered to come), but I didn’t want to expose anybody to whatever might be lurking in the building (coronavirus, etc…).
I didn’t realize what I was doing when I’d posted the picture of the inside of an Ambulance. I thought the pic/vid was snap-worthy and my intention wasn’t to worry anyone. Obviously, I had to do some damage control and calm people down, even though I was the one internally freaking out (story of my life lol).
As scared as I was for myself and my health, watching other people being admitted was ten times worse! There were so many people in so much pain!
There was a cute little Kuwaiti girl (about 7 or 8) that was given a bed all the way towards the end of the ward, with her mother alongside her. Apparently, the poor girl had abdominal pain. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her sobbing and sobbing. It was so, so sad!
There was also an Indian woman who was moaning and writhing in pain. One of the hot EMTs (the taller one) was the one that wheeled her in as well. She’d quiet down for a bit and then start moaning again, which made me feel so bad for her, because it meant her pain was coming waves. I tried to give her privacy and not look, but it was hard, especially when the trio of idiot Doctors attempted communicating with her by yelling at her in Arabic and then English. It was maddening!
The saddest one, was the frail old Kuwaiti lady in the bed directly across from mine. She had dementia. The nurses were so very sweet to her and one of them even gave her a quick kiss on the forehead. A female Doctor (who appeared older than 12, unlike the other three) entered the ward and asked the old lady if she felt ok, to which the older lady nodded and smiled. Then she asked her if she knew who she was, to which the old lady shook her head (as if to say no) but still smiled. That’s when my heart broke and I had a quick little cry.
I hated this place. I needed to get out. So I got up and tried to leave. The nurse cornered me and asked where I was going. I told her I was freezing because I was hungry and just wanted to go grab a quick snack from one of the vending machines. The nurse said I wasn’t allowed to leave. She suggested I call someone from home to get me food and stuff. Ok, cool, thanks!
By night, all the kiddy Doctors were gone and replaced with adult Doctors. As soon as my bloodwork was done, the result was explained to me by an older, taller Egyptian Doctor. He said that my heart enzymes were abnormally high. However, maybe mine were just naturally high and this was just my normal state.
I was told to come back tomorrow, to be fitted with the Heart Monitor Holter, to be worn for 24 hours. I called up my Doctor and he said that his Holter was more advanced than the one at Al-Amiri Hospital and that I should go to him instead.
I was free to leave.
The driver took me home, while I had a nice, leisurely cigarette in the back. Then I had a quick shower and changed into my comfy jammies and had some dinner while binging BTS videos on YouTube. Only once I was drowsy did I go to my bedroom and sleep (with the door unlocked).
Monday, March 2
The next day, the heart palpitations were still there and just as active as Day 1. I was still terrified but sadly, still had no answers. So, I hung all my hopes on the Halter, which would hopefully give me the answers I craved so badly.
I didn’t have it in me to eat anything and I didn’t want to be late so I just grabbed a few things (N95 Mask, B&B PocketBac, a bottle of water, a few ciggs) and bounced.
I was greeted by the same friendly Filipina Nurse. I didn’t have to wait long. I followed her to the same room where another nurse had performed the Ultrasound.
Once again, I was told to take my top off. At this point, I was waaay past embarrassment. I could hold a conversation and ask the woman about her day, while we made eye contact too.
She put the thing around my neck and across one shoulder. Then proceeded to tape each of the electrodes to different areas of my body (some on either side of my chest, some on either side of my ribs and some on either side of my stomach). The monitor itself was small, almost like a walkmen (hope people get the reference) and dangled to one side, like a crossbody bag.
Basically, it was a portable heart monitor that would record my heart’s rhythm for 24 hours. Then, I’d go back the next day and hand back the device for them to be able to print out the results. The Doc would take a look at it and we’d go from there.
I put my bra and top back on (now with the Holter underneath), thanked her and headed to Sultan Center (had a quick smoke in the backseat on the way there).
The Sultan Center
The heart palpitations kept coming and going, but at this point, it feels redundant to keep typing up that same sentence, no?
Not for nothing, but I actually felt safer with the Holter on, as if I was being watched over or something. Even I was surprised by how much safer the thing made me feel. Heck, I was even a little bit disappointed in myself (because I knew it was psychological and I expected more from myself).
In any case, I picked up some groceries from Sultan Center, randomly bumped into my hairstylist (fully masked and gloved) while there and headed home.
I had a lot of time to kill, so I went on YouTube and somehow become obsessed with making a very specific type of cookie. I’d just learned about it not 5 minutes earlier, but it looked so good! I watched a ton of copycat recipes and promised myself that tomorrow, I’d attempt to bake it and have it served at our weekly family gathering.
Most of my day was spent with family and night was spent on Podcasts up until I got drowsy and went to sleep at 2 in the morning. I was still scared of the dark thoughts I kept having at night (existential crises every other day) so I kept my bedroom door unlocked… and a nightlight on (yes, I am 35 years old and still need a nightlight).
Much to my annoyance, my heart palpitations did not happen as often, while I was wearing the Holter! As if they were somehow scared of the Holter, they decreased by almost half, if not more. I felt it!
Tuesday, March 3
Returning the Holter
I took the Holter back to get it removed. Same room, same nurse, same everything.
The pain was excruciating! She’d used the clear, extra sticky tape (at least two per electrode) and was trying to remove them very, very slowly. I kindly asked her to stop and just ripped each one out by myself. It hurt like a mutha’!
Unfortunately, the Doc was out sick. He’d gotten the flu. My first thought was oooh that’s not good, the poor dear is at least 100 years old. My second thought was I wonder if it’s the coranavirus and if I accidentally gave it to him.
The nurse assured me he’d be back in a few days and there was nothing to worry about.
The New Normal
I went back home to shower and exfoliate the sticky tape residue off my skin. I even straightened my hair using my trusty National Hair Styler (pictures here) because even if I did die, at least I’d die looking put together.
Then I proceeded to bake the best tasting cookies ever! Each cookie was huge! It was nice and chewy on the outside and all soft and melty on the inside (I even broke a cookie apart in slow-mo on Snapchat to feature how perfectly melty it was on the inside)!
My family loved them! So, I started looking up more recipes on YouTube for things to make in the future. Still, without the Holter, I felt… vulnerable, again.
I pretty much lived on YouTube and forced myself to stay up late so I wouldn’t wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and be all alone with my dark thoughts. I also became accustomed to leaving my apartment unlocked.
I couldn’t stomach the idea of watching anything on Netflix or reading anything on my Kindle. I didn’t want to do anything that required any form of concentration, which included work (as in my actual work) and blogging (as in this blog). I’d pretty much abandoned everything.
All I could muster was watching Podcasts or BTS on YouTube or watching our local “influencers” on Snapchat. Basically, mindless stuff.
This was to be my new routine for the next few days, few weeks and following months.
To top it all off, I still had the temporary filling in my tooth, from the first half of the root canal treatment on February 23 (deets here) and needed to continue on to the second half.
Monday, March 9
Although it had only been a week, to me it felt like years! I was terrified… all the time now! It was exhausting!
I couldn’t see myself continuing the rest of my life like this. I even thought (only in passing) about going to Germany or South Korea to get looked at by their medical professionals (whom I blindly trusted, as opposed to the ones over here), but thanks to Covid-19, I couldn’t travel anywhere, anytime soon.
Thankfully, I got the call from the friendly nurse to come back to the International Clinic because the Doc was feeling much better and coming back to work the next day (Monday). So, I went to see him with high hopes! Surely the Holter would provide some answers.
The Final Smoke
I grew accustomed to popping on a face mask before leaving the house.
I also grew accustomed to carrying around my Bath & Body Works Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer aka PocketBac in my back pocket all the time now. The other pocket had my Civil I.D. Card and K-Net (debit card).
The large X-ray folder (stuffed with all my other test results and bloodwork) I left in the backseat, rather than carrying it inside with me every other day. The one thing I diligently carried in and out every other day was my pack of smokes and whichever lighter was nearest.
On my way to the International Clinic, I had a cigarette in the backseat. The sun was shining and the skies were blue and just for that short time, everything felt… good. Life felt… good! I still remember the song that was playing at the time (Camila Cabello – Señorita).
As soon as I was finished smoking and put out the cigarette, I decided that it’d been my last one and that I was never going to smoke again.
Now I’d already quit caffeine (psuedo-coffee drink and soda and all) every since that first bout of heart flutters (February 29), but I was still smoking consistently (if somewhat less than before).
It was a spur of the moment decision (to the extent that I hadn’t even savored my last smoke), but that was that. I had made my decision. Earlier, I even typed up an entire post about my love of smoking (here).
The Holter Results
At the International Clinic, my doc confirmed that I’d gotten heart palpitations 43 times in 24 hours (as recorded by the Holter). He assured me it was very safe and completely normal to get an extra or irregular heartbeat :/
I told him that for whatever reason, while wearing the Holter, my heart palpitations had decreased significantly. He laughed and said I wasn’t the first patient to say that to him. Long story short, still no answers.
That didn’t stop him from prescribing a Beta Blocker for me to take once a day (heck.no.) and even told me to come back the next day to do a “stress test”. I told him that being stressed out was against my nature (I’m very chill… too chill in fact), but I agreed to come back tomorrow for some testing. I was instructed to return wear running shoes.
I wondered out loud if my heart flutters mayhaps had something to do with my vitamin levels and whatever. He told me that I should go to Taiba Clinic and speak to a certain Doc promising that she’d set me straight.
He wouldn’t stop gushing about the woman! I started imagining him mentoring this very gifted student until she became the successful doctor she was today. In my mind, I legit imagined I was going to see someone similar to Dr. Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy.
I payed for the testing for the next day and bought the Beta Blockers from the Pharmacy located on the ground floor, but after googling what they did, absolutely refused to take them.
On my way home, I called up Taiba Clinic and was told that the female doc I was supposed to see was out on vacation and would be back towards the end of the month. Great!
Tuesday, March 10
I returned to the International Clinic the next day and was instructed to wait in the same room that I had now grown very familiar with. I’d dressed in a loose-fitting T-shirt and a very easy to take on/off bra (I’d adapted lol) and didn’t even blink when the nurse told me to take my top off.
She stuck some things on my chest and ribs again and told me to get on the treadmill with my hands firmly placed on either side of the bar. At first it was slow, then the doctor walked in and increased the speed to where I was power walking and eventually jogging in place.
I wasn’t even phased by the fact that I was literally jogging topless (on paper it sounds a bit… indignant lol but in reality it was fine). My doc kept asking me if I was doing okay, every time he increased the speed and seemed surprised that I wasn’t out of breath.
So he increased the speed even more to where I was legit running (not sprinting, straight up running) in place. It was not the time or place, but I wondered what his horoscope was and before I could help myself, I asked him (while running topless on the treadmill).
“What’s your star sign?”
“Excuse me? Come again?”
“I didn’t quite get you.”
“Star sign. Horoscope”
And just like that, I lost all hope lol
Scorpios and being altruistic do not go hand in hand. Thankfully, the “Stress Test” was over.
He told me that I wasn’t just in good shape. He actually said I was in excellent shape. He also said we could now rule out stress as one of the reasons for my heart flutters. Well, derrr.
Basically, I’d spent hundreds of Kuwaiti Dinars and was still no closer to getting an answer. Awesome.
He told me to check out that other Doc at Taiba Hospital and we parted ways.
Wednesday, April 1
I spent almost a month in Limbo. Not gonna’ lie, the heart palpitations got less and less, but they never went away completely. I’d get 3 good days and then they’d return on the 4th day, which was maddening, but better than nothing.
Eventually, I made it to Taiba Hospital (Sabah Al Salem). At the door, I was asked if I’d traveled recently, to which I said no. Then I was asked if I’d just gotten back from traveling recently (which made me wonder if the woman asking me these questions was a bit slow).
I was already used to this line of questioning from visiting our local neighborhood clinic (I like pitting private hospitals against government hospitals and nothing wrong with getting a second opinion) and it never ceased to amaze me how ineffective this line of questioning seemed to be, because I could just as easily lie and just say no to everything.
Anyhow, my temperature was taken before I could pass. I was instructed to trash my gloves (first time I ever wore them and not a minute later they were to be discarded lol) and rub the provided hand sanitizer… on my hands.
The inside looked too new (almost like when I first entered Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah Hospital in the Summer of 2019) which is odd because I feel like Taiba Clinic has always been around, but whatevs.
Everyone was masked and gloved and seemed friendly enough, apart from the people who had the task of checking everyone’s temperature and asking those insipid questions. I believe there was one of those on each floor.
I was expecting a fresh young thing or Dr. Meredith Grey or anything else really. Instead I was met with a slim older woman (mid 50’s-60’s) with bright brassy hair which she wore down. Ah, so he’d sent me to someone he’d had a fling with in the past (he was married and had kids that were older than me), which explained all the unnecessary gushing about her.
I told her about my issue (my heart beats… weird) and she said it was normal. Cool! Thanks!
She said I was young and it was probably coffee and stress. Cool! Thanks!
I asked if I could at least get some blood tests done. I wanted to check my Vitamin Levels and Iron Levels and all the other Levels (during the previous month, sometimes I’d spend an afternoon looking up my symptoms, so I came prepared).
She said it was unnecessary, because I’d just gotten some blood tests done at the International Clinic only a month prior. I explained to her that the results were very broad and I wanted a more detailed look (as a doc, she should’ve already known this and didn’t need me to tell her).
I also asked if she could prescribe some Iron Pills for me to take. She said I just needed to eat more meat and salads… then proceeded to reminisce about a particular restaurant in the UK that apparently served a lovely salad.
She confirmed my suspicions because my cardiologist had graduated from Ireland or whatever and she spoke fondly of the UK which meant that’s where they met or studied together or hung out or whatever.
I insisted on the pills so she prescribed them for me and said I should take only 1 tablet mid-meal (apparently Iron Tablets cause constipation so it’s easier to digest with food or whatever).
I suspected the hear palpitations might’ve had something to do with my Hiatus Hernia (this), but she said that it was unlikely.
Still, she prescribed some Hydrochloride for me to take before a meal and some Nexium also before a meal. From what I understood from her, they both did the same thing (which made taking both… pointless?) but she insisted I purchase both. So, I did.
It only occurred to me once I got home that taking Nexium and whatever the heck that other stuff was, might stop my body from absorbing Iron properly.
Why had she not thought of this? It wasn’t my job to predict counteractions of certain medication with certain supplements. I wasn’t the doctor.
The Iron Deficiency
I took the elevator all the way to the bottom (basement) to the lab and waited my turn. Once my turn came, the sweetest little teeny tiny thing of nurse took my blood.
I didn’t bother waiting for the results because the Doc had said that she’d contact me once the results were out. So I went home.
A few hours later, she called me up and told me to take 2 Iron Tablets a day (1 with lunch and 1 with dinner) because apparently my Iron Levels were really, really, really low. I was right.
I asked her if taking the tablets and getting my Iron Levels back up would stop the heart palpitations. She said no. This was something I was going to have to live with, forever. She said it was normal and the reason was probably that I was stressed out. Cool! Thanks!
I asked her if there was any way she could show me the results of my blood tests and you guys, I am not kidding, when she hung up, she took pictures of my results on her computer at work and sent them to me. They were all super blurry!
So the next I went to pick up the results and apparently, 15 was the lowest and mine was at 5. Awesome.
Thursday, April 30
I popped my pills regularly. Nexium early in the morning and an Iron Supplement during lunch and another during dinner.
Eventually, I ran out of Nexium so I needed a new prescription. Plus, it had been a month since my last visit. So, I called ahead of time to schedule an appointment (new rule) and went back.
I asked for another blood test and once again, she tried to tell me it was unnecessary. I explained to her that I wanted to compare my results from month to month, so she shrugged and wrote up some more blood tests.
This time, I was told that they’d text me the results (directly from the Lab in pdf format and everything), which they did. It was so professional, unlike whatever you wanna’ call what I’d previously experienced with the female doc.
I couldn’t read nor understand the results, but my Iron Levels had increased significantly, so I started taking only 1 tablet a day and now I’ve stopped. I only take Nexium when I wake up first thing in the morning.
While I was at Taiba Hospital, I popped by their dentist (as mentioned here) and picked up the stuff that she’d prescribed.
Sunday, June 21
I haven’t had any caffeine (even coffee flavored ice cream or frozen yogurt or whatever) since February 28.
I haven’t smoked a single cigarette (not even a puff) nor tried a substitute since March 9.
I miss both dearly, but whatever. I like to think I’m tough and that I’ve got an insane amount of willpower.
My upper second premolar on the left still feels too high or too big (like there’s pressure inside or something) and my lower first molar on the left jolts me wide awake with jarring pain whenever I have something hot, cold or sweet.
Eventually, I’m going to have to go see a dentist and I’ve come to the conclusion that my dentist sucks lol Literally every tooth he’s worked on, needs to be re-worked. It’s fine though. I’ll look for a proper dentist once things calm down a bit.
Lastly, for months now, all I’ve done is stuff my face with protein, fruits and veggies, constantly, to the extent that I’ve actually gained 10 kilograms during quarantine.
Unfortunately, the weight gain has done nothing to decrease my heart palpitations. Some days are good. Some days are bad. Some days are horrible. To this day, I still don’t know what triggers it.
Once things settle down, I’m thinking about going to see a gastro whatever whatever, because the heart flutters might very well be caused by my haitus hernia. I’m in no hurry though.
With time, these crazy heart palpitations have become my “new normal”. I’ve learned to ignore them out and I’ve even started locking my bedroom door again.
Still, sometimes when they’re particularly bad, I don’t really feel like blogging.
I hope this all made sense.