An unexpected visit to a clinic leads to a serious heart diagnosis.

“One day I was having trouble breathing. I took a COVID test and it was negative. I called the Kaiser consulting nurse who told me to go to the walk-in clinic in nearby Everett. The physician’s assistant (PA) took a blood sample, etc. She said she wasn't sure what it was but thought it was an infection. She said if I wasn't better tomorrow to go to the ER. I muttered that I don't like to go to ER because it takes so long to be served. I just hoped I would get better on my own.

"The next day I got a call from the same PA saying she went over my test results again. I thought that was odd considering how busy she must be. She went on to say in a rather severe, insistent voice, ‘I want you to go to the emergency room NOW.’ I thanked her for her stern voice because it made me believe it was important and not just a ‘maybe’ thing.

"I packed a bag of essentials just in case and had my neighbor drive me, saying I could take a taxi home. The PA called ahead so the ER would be expecting me with minimal wait. I somehow didn’t think I would need to be admitted. After a few more tests and no diagnosis, I was admitted. That hospital was full of COVID patients. They got permission from Kaiser to transport me by ambulance to another hospital.

“Over the next several days I had every test imaginable, including a CAT scan and X-rays. I learned that I had a wound in my heart that a Japanese scientist called an octopus trap (takotsubo). I was given medicine to strengthen the heart muscle and wasn’t released until my vitals were stabilized. On the sixth day I was given an X-ray to check the healing of my heart. It was the biggest, fanciest, latest technology in X-ray machines. I felt like I was at a space station.

“I was impressed with the efficiency of the attendants. When I am stressed, I tend to use sarcastic humor so I don't come across grumpy. I bonded with one nurse as he could identify with my humor. At one point he gave me a COVID test by sticking the swab ‘clear up to my brain.’ Yipes! I quipped, ‘I thought I liked you, but now I'm not so sure.’

“After a couple days of being home, the cardiologist personally called me to see how I was doing. I felt very well taken care of and supported.

“I like the way my medical record is available to all the doctors in Kaiser so that my care can be coordinated. I am glad I have this PEBB Medicare Advantage Plan.”

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