The John Shinnick Web Site (Prior)

John Shinnick 3.0: It's All About Me

Last Update: October 3, 2022



First of all, everything’s gonna be fine. Drugs will manage it. Not fun ones, but… well… read on.


I’ve started writing these little essays a bit ahead of time so I don’t have to rush to do my updates. I wrote my “Physical Shinn” article on the 28th. A lot happened between then and now. The article the Physical section was about my change of primary care physicians. Well, on Thursday the 29th, I called in to schedule my first appointment, and it turned out the new physician’s assistant (PA) Paige Anderson had an opening that very day. The main reason I was switching to this facility was that it’s only ten minutes from my house. We got to the part where she took the stethoscope out and listened to my heart, so routine I almost wondered why it’s done.


I found out. My appointment had been for 4:00 and I expected to be out of there by about 4:30, 4:40 tops. Having no symptoms, I certainly didn’t expect to suddenly be having a full EKG with the results discussed amongst a couple of technicians, my physician’s assistant, and her supervising doctor. Turned out I had an irregular heartbeat, apparently developed over just the last six months, when I’d had my last physical. The preliminary diagnosis was Artrial Fibrillation, or AFib. It was explained that the bottom two chambers of my heart, the ventricles, were doing just fine, doing the work of pumping my blood as always, but the two upper chambers, the atria, were beating faster but less powerfully than normal, and out of sync with the ventricles. They don’t pump out all their blood into the ventricles, so it can linger and clot. The danger here is that the clot can break loose, travel to the brain, and cause a stroke. Yuk.


My first impression was that I’d probably be put on some drug or something, or be told to check back in a few months to see how things were. Instead, I was told I should go to the emergency room at Alta Bates Hospital as soon as possible. I was thinking that maybe the following Monday would be good, or perhaps even Friday. That really wasn’t what PA Paige had in mind. I really didn’t have anything else going on that evening, so I checked into the emergency room at Alta Bates that evening at 7:00.


I should have brought my book. I was patient, but by 8:30 I’d still not talked to anyone but the receptionist. I was noticing that people who had arrived after me were being seen before me. There’s a term in the restaurant business for when the kitchen staff takes an order that hasn’t been prepared and accidentally puts it on the spike where completed orders are temporarily placed. It’s called “getting spiked.” I was wondering if that was what had happened to me. I patiently (no pun intended, well, not much) waited as I was told how busy they were that night. Really? 


I sat back down and watched CNN’s reporting of Hurricane Ian’ destruction of Florida. I was depressed enough. The waiting room began to thin out. Finally, at 10:00, I asked the receptionist to please verify that I was indeed in the queue. She went behind one of the doors and the next thing I knew, I was being ushered into a back room, being given apologies for the wait (though there was no admission that it was because I’d been lost in the shuffle) and prepped for and took my x-ray and an EKG. A needle was jammed into my arm at the elbow and a healthy sample was taken for analysis. One of them asked if I knew what AFib was. Born to tell dad jokes, I replied “it’s when you tell a lie to someone.” I couldn’t believe he hadn’t heard that one before, let alone that I was the inventor of that line, but it was apparently the case.

A Fib Isn't Just When You Lie to Someone

I was told that it would take about an hour for the results of the blood test to be available and the door closed, leaving me alone. Nothing to read, no TV to watch, and to add insult to injury, they’d put a clamp on my right index finger to monitor my blood pressure. My cell phone used the fingerprint from that finger for identification, so I couldn’t use it either. I was alone, wondering how I would pass an hour with nothing to do. But about twenty minutes later, Monica, a nurse, came in to check on me. She moved the blood pressure finger clamp to my left hand and gave me the password to the internet, but things moved fast. At about midnight, my actual doctor arrived with the final word. Young? I swear, I have socks older than him. But he basically just confirmed what Paige had said six hours earlier.


I was given two prescriptions and gave me the name of a cardiologist to contact the next day for an early October appointment. Just what I needed, another ologist to go with my urologist, dermatologist and the rest. The big shock came the next day when I got the prescriptions filled. My thirty-day supply of Metoprolol cost $7.61. Thank you, Medicare. Thirty days of Eliquis? $338.83. WHAT? I did the math and found myself staring down the barrel of a $4,000 a year expense I hadn’t budgeted for. And this was after Medicare paid for half of the cost.


No doubt about it, growing old isn’t for the faint of heart.

My ER Wristband.