Tyler's Heart

Pictures - Pictures from Houston.
LVAD Video - A YouTube video about living with an LVAD.
HeartMate II Video Clip - Short video clip about the pump Tyler has.

Another good blog to read is from our friend Bill. Cozumel Part 1 - This Might Be Habit Forming.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Resort & Clinic - 10/25/2009

"It's exactly what we wanted"! This is how we felt when Tyler, I, Bill, and Heidi finally arrived at the resort in Cozumel. We arrived Saturday evening on October 24, 2009. Preparing for this week long vacation was rough on Tyler while trying to get business and personal affairs in order for the trip. This was also going to be our 6 year anniversary trip and a trip to celebrate my being free of cancer that I went through in in the summer of 2009 (http://robertdenvertc.blogspot.com/). We had a nice night hanging out by the pool and looking around the resort.

Sunday started out a bit rough. Tyler discovered he had left his phone on the plane and was trying to figure out how to get it back. He met me in the lobby and told me about this. What Bill, Heidi, and I noted was how calm he was about this. A bit uncharacteristic of Tyler. He blocked the phone number, we ate breakfast, and went on about our day. All four of us hung out at the pool for hours joking and laughing and really enjoying the resort. Tyler and Heidi went snorkeling for a little bit also. About early afternoon Tyler decided to take a nap and our little group broke up. I ended up sitting at a table working on my laptop and enjoying working in a tropical setting. Eventually all of us met up at my table. Tyler mentioned that his throat and chest were hurting a little bit, but it didn't seem to serious at the time. This pain passed and Tyler and I were able to enjoy some alone time before meeting up with Bill and Heidi to play cards in the resort lobby. We played for a few hours and then decided to eat dinner at the buffet.

As we finished dinner (around 9pm) Tyler made the comment again that his throat and chest hurt. But he would turn to me and smile. He did this twice at the table and I decided that dinner was over and we should go. Once we got into the lobby he made the comments again and smiled again. At this point I turned to Tyler and said this wasn't funny anymore and he needed to tell me if he was truly in pain or not. Unfortunately he looked me in the eye and was only able to get out "I hurt". Because of his look I immediately started to go up to the resort personnel to inquire about medical help. At the moment I left, Tyler froze up and Bill caught him and eased him into a chair. I was told by Bill and Heidi that he became stiff as a board and was making horrible gurgling noises. I looked over from across the lobby and started demanding from the resort manager that we need medical help immediately and pointed to where Tyler was. This was the heart-attack moment.

All that the resort had available was a life guard and being able to call a local doctor at the San Miquel Clinic. As I was scrambling around to get help, Tyler did come back but was in massive pain and limp. The life guard took his blood pressure and we moved him to a couch with his legs up. Tyler then commented that he needed to go to the bathroom. While Tyler's was in the bathroom, I continued to talk the doctor on the phone. The doctor asked the standard tourist questions - drinking?, diving? - and I relayed that he didn't drink and doesn't dive. I was also trying to relay all that had happened and the symptoms. The doctor basically said to take Tyler back to our room and put his feet up. During this Bill, Heidi, and I still had no clue what was going on. It was our first moment into shock that would last quite a while.

The resort's quest services person finally commented to me that I shouldn't wait for anything else to occur or wait for the doctor to come to the resort. I should take Tyler to the clinic right away. Bless her for this. I would be writing a much different blog if she had not been so upfront. By this time the resort staff and Bill and Heidi were bringing Tyler back into the lobby in a wheelchair. He had been vomiting in the bathroom. Unfortunately the staff that was pushing Tyler was moving him at a speed that looked like they were taking him on a tour of the resort. This was the first moment that I started truly going into management mode. I started demanding that it didn't take 6 staff members to push Tyler and that someone needed to get the van ready. As we were putting Tyler into the van, Bill and Heidi ran back to our room to get our passports and money. Our room was to far away so I just told the driver to go. Of course only having a plastic wrist-band on my arm. Nothing else.

The van ride to the clinic was about a 30 minute ride (felt like an hour). Tyler continued to hang in there but with a lot of vomiting. At one point we had to stop to let him hang out the door to vomit. As he was vomiting, I looked up and noticed we had stopped right in front of a restaurant with windows. What a nice view for the restaurant patrons. The clinic took Tyler in and started giving him fluids and hooked him up to an EKG. As I was trying to deal with the doctors (and language barrier), a front desk staff member came in to collect a $500.00 deposit. I still didn't have our wallets and explained that I needed to call the resort. The resort staff let me know that Bill and Heidi were already on their way. The clinic staff said that was okay and continued to work on Tyler. Tyler and I spent the night at the clinic with Tyler still in pain and occasionally vomiting. I stayed awake listening to Tyler groaning throughout most of the night. In the morning the clinic did an ultrasound to see if there was a problem with his gall bladder. Finally, in the morning, an internist came in that talked to Tyler and looked at the EKG. Then our world changed radically. We were informed that Tyler experienced a heart attack and that we must get him back to the U.S. right away. Since I couldn't remember where I parked my Lear jet or speed boat, I just looked at the clinic staff in disbelief. They told me they would contact Air Ambulance to see if they could get him back. Unfortunately Tyler's health insurance would only cover $5000.00 for the expense. Not quite enough to cover the flight is an understatement. Fortunately his business partner, Kelly, was able to secure the flight for us. The plane would be coming from San Antonio, TX. It would take at least 4 hours just for them to file flight plans and prepare for customs.

While waiting for the air ambulance, Bill, Heidi, Kelly, and I started scrambling to keep things moving along. I had not brought my phone and Tyler left his on the plane. Heidi was the only one with a phone. The medical clinic also let me use their U.S. connected phone as much as I needed. I had finally saved enough energy to make what would be the hardest phone call I had to make. I called his mother and tried to start telling her what was going on. At the time she was driving to a local hospital in Indiana to pick up Tyler's father from a scheduled treatment. The last thing I needed to hear was squealing tires and I told her Tyler was basically stable and we were making arrangements to get him back to the U.S.

During this time Tyler was laying in the clinic's ICU room with his heart beat being monitored, but that was about it. His beats per minute fluctuated rapidly between about 74 bpm to 113 bpm. He was in a lot of pain but still basically responsive. He requested that Heidi massage his upper back which helped him a lot. Also during all this activity and trying to stay on top of insurance and arrangements, we kept commenting how surreal the situation was. A 44 year old healthy Tyler had just had a heart attack and was being flown to the U.S. It wasn't until Houston that I was told that I had been in shock since the attack and would be in shock for a while. Another understatement!

A quick note about the clinic staff. While they missed seeing the heart attack and starting this process much earlier, they did what they could do. My comment has been that you don't get a cut-rate third world vacation with first-rate medical. The clinic staff was very friendly to me and did all they knew how to do.

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