I was at the shore, enjoying a beautiful week with my family. All of a sudden I didn’t feel well. I thought it might have been the fried seafood. I was nauseous, had heartburn, and had the chills all the time. My wife saw that I wasn’t my usual cheerful self. I wasn’t eating or drinking like I was on vacation. Over the counter medications didn’t seem to be helping. My wife sent me home early to see the doctor.
My doctor took one look at me and knew something was wrong. I didn’t protest to having blood drawn, although I usually can’t stand to have needles. I just wanted to feel better. Then he took my pulse and looked up at me with a quizzical look. He had his nurse come in and repeat the test. She looked worried too. Then he wheeled in an EKG and hooked me up for over ten minutes. I sat watching the paper spew out over the floor, and with each foot of paper I became more and more worried. He asked if I felt a fluttering in my chest. I always felt that, palpitations are a Rosen fact. We all have them. He said that my heart wasn’t just palpitating it was in a pretty serious arrhythmia and was even stopping and restarting every few minutes. Now I was worried because he had freaked me out. I thought I was dying for sure. He didn’t think so, but sent me to the hospital for more tests. He let me drive myself, a good sign. He got me in for testing in an hour, a really bad sign.
The hospital confirmed that my heart wasn’t behaving. I was diagnosed as having an electrical problem in my heart that causes it to try and reset itself over and over. We would try medications first and if that didn’t work I may have to have a pacemaker put it. I was only 40 and already dealing with my family’s bad gene pool; which includes diabetes, heart arrhythmias, asthma, and high blood pressure. I thought I had been able to avoid our family curses by watching what I ate and exercising. I thought wrong.
The big fear was that, during the brief period required to regulate my new heart medicines, my heart might not restart itself. It could stop and I could die. Dying is bad. So I ran to my office and grabbed the AED. My practice is in a suburb with a large elder population. I bought the AED a few months earlier to make sure that my patients were covered in the case of a cardiac event. It was the best $2000 I have spent in my practice without ever having the intent of needing to use it. To me it was a better piece of equipment than our fancy-schmancy $75,000 digital radiograph.
I think that all medical and dental offices as well as public facilities should be required to have AED machines and staff trained in how to use them. Most states, like Illinois, have passed laws that require most public and medical facilities to have AED machines. Where laws like this don’t yet exist, like Pennsylvania, many dentists don’t have the proper life-saving devices in their office and I think this is a big mistake. Dentistry is a medical profession and anything could happen regardless of what is being practiced in the office. Ask your doctor and dentist if they have AED machines readily available.