All the way on the drive down to Athens, I was watching the horizon for black smoke. We learned early Friday morning that the Georgia Theatre was ablaze. According to the radio, downtown was pretty chaotic, with the power grid being shut down, and many streets closed. Though I am not necessarily a patron of local bands (excluding my brother's band) and didn't frequent the theatre, it still struck a chord of sadness when I learned it was burning. Athens has been home to several bands who have "made it" on the music scene, and the Georgia Theatre was the venue of choice back in the day. Some of our more famous local bands include REM, Widespread Panic, B-52s, as well as some lesser-known, but up-and-coming acts, Corey Smith being the only one coming to mind right now. I remember when it was a movie house. At any rate, it has long been a landmark for Athens, and it is sad to lose that. The owner hopes to rebuild. But back to the smoke... I couldn't believe that I wasn't seeing any smoke at all, and decided that when I left the pulmonary clinic, I'd do exactly what the city government, fire officials, and the DJ on the radio said NOT to do... and that was drive downtown to do a little rubbernecking of my own. While I was being fitted for my mask, however, I started experiencing an excruciating pain in my right jaw. Not having any dental issues that I'm aware of, I was alarmed that it could be related to my as-yet-undiagnosed cardiac "condition". The pain subsided somewhat, enough that I was able to indeed drive downtown. Most folks had stayed home, so there weren't many cars in town at all. Lots of foot and bike traffic though, and lots of spectators were on hand. A few traffic lights were out, but I was able to drive behind the theatre. Not much to see, just some firemen in bucket trucks dousing the smoldering ruins, but the outside walls were still intact.
From that adventure, I went into Sam's to upload some photos. I was feeling pretty bad again, and sought out the refuge of one of the sofas in the furniture section to await my photos. Now I've heard of left-sided jaw pain being a flag for cardiac issues, but never the right side. I called Dr. F's office (my oral surgery transcription account) to see what he would think. If anybody knows jaws, it's Dr. F. He said it didn't matter, left or right, and to call my cardiologist right away. I just wanted to go home and take some anti-reflux medicine and take a nap. And then go to Wild Bill's to hear the band. I called my mom, and we tried to decide if I should go get it checked. I picked up the photos, got in my car and was in the left-turn lane to go home when my jaw pain pumped up a notch. I knew I already didn't feel like going to the show. I knew if I called my cardiologist's office or my PCP's office they would tell me to go to the ER. So, I decided to just go. I did call the cardiologist on the way to let them know I would be going. Unknown to me, he went ahead and alerted the ER and instructed them to prepare me for a cath. That fine-looking ER doctor, Dr. H, was the bearer of that news. I joked with him that it must be time for Dr. S's car payment. This was not a total surprise, but so not what I wanted to hear. It would likely mean an overnight admission... something I totally didn't want. I called mom and dad, who were already prepared to come down there (as I figured they would). It was amazing. I walked into the ER right about noon, and by 3:30, I had finished my cath, completed recovery, and we were on the way to get some dinner. (I was rushing the staff so we could make it to dinner before the Senior Citizen Discount hour was over. NO I'm not really a senior citizen, but some places will give me the discount, so my daddy just says "three seniors". Getting older does have SOME advantages!) The most interesting aspect of the cath is that they did it through the radial (wrist) artery, and not the femoral (groin) artery. The femoral approach would have entailed a far greater recovery time, more painful, and probably an overnight stay, since it would be later afternoon before doing it. The radial route recovery time was about an hour. In all my years of transcribing cath reports, I have never heard of using the radial artery approach. There's only one guy in Athens who does it, and he happens to be the partner of my (and Whitney's ) electrophysiologist/cardiologist. And he happened to be on call yesterday afternoon. I was pretty much bucking the whole idea, because 1) I didn't want to bother with it (don't have time for such things you know), 2) I was scheduled to work the next day, and they told me I could not work, 3) I wanted to go hear the band. However... I relented... (I guess I was alarmed enough to justify it). So much the better, since another episode was bound to happen, and maybe I wouldn't have got the really cute ER doctor (which probably did little to help my heart rate and blood pressure...haha), but most importantly, I may not have gotten Dr. K., who did the radial artery thing.
The final diagnosis is... my heart is clear!! Yay!!! Dr. S. had previously encouraged me to get a cath, based on some minor abnormalities on two prior cardiac tests, but relented to let me postpone it, with the admonition that should I have another episode, he would insist. Now that it's all over with, I am relieved to know that my symptoms are not cardiac related, and at least I no longer have that "threat" of getting a cath hanging over my head. Two of my co-workers were gracious enough to cover the hours that I had been scheduled, so that worry was relieved. After dinner, I went home to my mom and dad's house, because their house is a bit more peaceful and much quieter than my house. :-) I enjoyed a nice visit with my parents, slept more soundly than I have in a long time ;-\ and picked up a good book along the way. I've returned back to The 409 now. The Veals have gone to Zoo Atlanta today, so it should be nice and quiet. I'm going to finish the book I started, and watch a movie that Whitney and Kate got yesterday. And I'll probably take a nap or two.
Not the Friday I had planned on. Not a Friday I hope to experience again. But all's well that end's well, I suppose, and I continue to be thankful for all my blessings.