Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Heart That Cried Wolf

“Then… out of the darkness, a shrill, unsettling voice echoed throughout the chamber, “Jimmy… I’m coming to get you…’  Startled, a shiver ran up his spine as Jimmy frantically looked around for the source of the creepy voice.  Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he began to shake.  Then the voice called out again… ‘Jimmy…  I’m coming to get you…’  Turning around in fright, Jimmy quickly ducked behind a cranial bone and squeezed his eyes shut, but it didn’t help.  One again, the same voice reverberated throughout the chamber, only this time, it sounded closer than ever, ‘Jimmy… I’m coming to get you…”  And then… WHAM!!!”  All of the organs jumped back in surprise, wrapped up as they were in the story.  

Sam was known for telling the finest tales around the campfire and tonight was no exception.  Positioning himself closer to the fire to get the full effect of the flames, he continued.  “Out of the blue, the biggest, nastiest, most horrible clot this side of the aortic river came flying around the corner and cut off all of Jimmy’s blood supply!”

“What did he do next?!?!?” all the little organs cried out.

“He did the only thing he could do, with everything he had left, the poor guy cried out ‘CLOT’ as loud as he could.  So loud was his cry that it echoed all the way up the neuronal paths and brought the whole entire city to its knees, literally!  It was only with the help of the Master Mechanic that he was able to get help quickly enough so that he didn’t have any lasting damage.  But it just serves as a good reminder to all of us… He prowls around like a wolf on a hunt, targeting unsuspecting organs in his wake.  So whatever you do youngsters, wherever you go… always remember to beware of the boogie wolf clots!”

Nervously, the organs applauded Sam’s story and passed it off as if it was no big deal, but to young Harry Heartman, the story hit a little too close to home.  “What’s the matter Harry?  Sam’s story didn’t scare you did it?” teased one of the other organs.

“No, leave me alone Jack.”

“Then why’d you jump higher than a PVC when Sam was telling the story?” the bully continued.

“Ok, ok, that’s enough boys,” Sam interrupted.  “Harry here just has a healthy respect for clots because his family’s been known to have a tendency to run into them every now and then.  Now off to bed with all of you or I might not be in the mood for telling another ghost story tomorrow night…”  Not wanting to miss out on their chance to hear another story, even if they did quake in their boots whenever one was told, the young organs heeded Sam’s warning and they all drifted away into a peaceful, dreamless sleep.  Well, all except one…

Harry, I’m coming to get you….Harry…. Poor Harry whimpered.  No matter how he tried to direct his thoughts, the campfire story kept echoing through his mind.  Harry… Harry… his imagination repeated.  Afraid to go to sleep, he just kept tossing and turning until he finally drifted off from pure exhaustion.   Then the dreams came…

                “CLOT!!!!!”  Harry screamed out in the middle of the night.  All the kids came running as fast as they could and gathered around their friend to see what was going on.  “Clot!  It’s a clot!! Help me!  Oh please, help me!  It’s a clot!!” Harry cried out again, panting and sweating profusely.

                “Ok, ok Harry, just calm down now.  Where did you see the clot?”  Jack asked. 

                “Well, I was running and running.  Then, I felt this tightness and pain all around my chest.  I tried to stop myself and rest, b…but then, I saw this red wolf looking me right in the eyes and calling out my name in that same voice Mr. Sam was using… Harry… Harry… and before I knew it I was screaming out for help and all you guys showed up!”

                “Erm… well, um… Harry… that’s nice and all, but uh… you’re still in your sleeping bag and there’s no sign of a clot monster anywhere… Harry, you must have been dreaming.”

                “Oh… well… I must have gotten back into bed then… without realizing it…”

                “Right… it’s ok Harry, we all have scary dreams sometimes.  In your case, we’d call that some stable angina.  It seems like you’re being attacked, but you’re not really.  Just look at it as a warning sign Harry.  Hahaha, if you keep this up, we’ll have to call you a Scaredy Tumor!”

                “Aw, come on guys, you have to believe me!”

                “Sure Harry, sure… why don’t you just go back to sleep and let us all get a little more shut eye.  It’s supposed to be a busy day tomorrow.”  Rolling their eyes and grumbling about being woken up for nothing, the young organs made their ways back to their respective quarters and settled back down. 

                Stewing in self-pity, Harry began murmuring to himself, “Hmph, it could have been a clot.  They’re just being mean and teasing me like before.  They don’t really care about me.  I could die right here and they probably wouldn’t even care.”  He tried to snuggle back under his sleeping bag, but his mind had a hard time turning off. 

Then, out in the woods, he heard a snap… “Wa… What was that?!?!  Maybe it’s a clot! No, no, it couldn’t be…”  Snap… “There it was again!!  There, I definitely heard something, CLOT!!  CLOT!!!!  Guys, there’s really a clot this time and it’s coming to get me, HELP!!!!!!”

                Once again, all the young organs came running to Harry’s aid.  “What’s wrong this time Harry,” they asked, looking around for any sign of boogie wolf tracks.

                “Guys, I swear I saw a clot right out there in the woods.  It was going to kill me, then eat me alive, then cut off all my blood supply, and then… then…”  With everyone standing over him and glaring down in annoyance, the words fizzled out of Harry’s mouth.  Sheepishly, he added, “It, it really was a clot guys.”

                “No it wasn’t Harry, it was just your imagination.”

                “No, no, there really was a clot! I heard it snapping twigs in the trees…”  Just then, a small rabbit came hopping out into the clearing, sniffing around for something to nibble on.  Feeling even more sheepish, Harry’s face turned bright red in embarrassment.

                “Scaredy Harry Heartman just looking for attention.  Look, we’re sorry for teasing you earlier about the story, so why don’t you just let us get some sleep!”

                “It could have been a clot,” Harry quietly whimpered to himself.

                The organs grumbled all the way back to their beds about the whole ordeal.  “Why does he insist on making a big deal about all this?  Guess I was wrong earlier, if this keeps coming on him while he’s resting, maybe it’s more like unstable angina!!!”  The kids laughed at Jack’s joke and settled down once again for the night, praying there’d be no more interruptions.

                Then, sure enough, Harry’s dreams haunted him again.  Finally, he sat up and decided he’d had enough sleep for the night.  He lay there stewing over his friends’ disbelief when he saw a shadow moving around in the woods.  “Could it be? Nah, it’s just the light playing tricks on me.”  He looked away.  Then, starlted by a little more rustling, he looked up again and, to his horror, the shadow was moving.  “Go away imagination, leave me alone.  It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real.”  Harry closed his eyes and covered his head, trying to ignore the image.

                All of a sudden, the campers were startled awake by a bloodcurdling cry for help.  The organs sat bolt up in bed and looked around before realizing it was coming from Harry’s direction.  “Aw, not again!   Man, that little guys got quite a voice!”

                “Yeah, keeps waking us up for nothing.  Just let him cry.  Serves him right for waking us up for no reason.  Probably just another bunny or something that crossed his path.”

                “No, come on guys, someone has to go over there if for no other reason than to tell him to be quiet.”

                “Fine, I can’t stand the racket anymore anyway.  I’ll go.”  Jack grudgingly volunteered.  He slowly got up and made his way over towards Harry.  Pretty soon, the guys heard a rush of steps and Jack was right back, gasping for breath, “Guys, quick, Heartman really is being attacked this time!  Quick, someone run and tell Mr. Sam, then the rest of you come with me and maybe we can scare him off!”  Everyone just looked back at him, trying to evaluate whether he was pulling their chain or telling the truth.  “No, seriously guys, come on!  And hurry, Harry Heartman is being attacked!!!”

                The boys rushed to do as they were told and sure enough, a large, nasty clot had attached itself to Harry and was cutting off his blood supply.  Once Sam arrived on the scene, they rushed Harry off and got him seen by the Mechanic in record time.  With a quick cardiac cath intervention, they had him all patched up and the clot successfully dealt with. 

                From that day forth, all the organs had a healthy respect for boogie wolf clots.  Never again would they tease and pretend like they didn’t exist.  Never again would they take the mention of a clot lightly. 

If you experience any symptoms of a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately

Medical Morales to Remember:

  • Angina – temporary decrease or lack of oxygenated blood to the heart, may be caused by damage, blockage or narrowing of the coronary arteries
    • Stable Angina – predictable, occurs with physical exertion or stress
  • Unstable Angina – unpredictable, usually occurs while resting, sleeping or with minimal activity; rest and medication do not relieve it
*** "Unstable angina should be treated as an emergency. If you have new, worsening or persistent chest discomfort, you need to go to the ER. You could be having a heart attack which puts you at increased risk for severe cardiac arrhythmias or cardiac arrest, which could lead to sudden death.” – American Heart Association ***
  • Myocardial Infarction (MI) – heart attack, blood flow stopped or reduced to the point of causing heart muscle damage
    • Signs and Symptoms of angina and heart attacks are similar – shortness of breath, pain radiating down left arm or up left side of neck, indigestion, nausea, chest pain, tightness, pressure, weakness, lightheadedness, sweating

Additional Resources:

How do you explain the difference between stable and unstable angina to your patients?  How do you remember the difference between the different causes of chest pain?

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