I ran into a Nutt during my vacation

Published 12:45 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I should have purchased vacation insurance.

First, my plans to visit Savannah, Ga., were scrapped when the friends who were to accompany me to Savannah informed me that one of their family members was in the hospital in Ahoskie. They did not want to go to Savannah while she was in the hospital. I understood.

So, I decided to visit Raleigh and see some of the museums, parks and other places the state’s capital has to offer. I arrived the afternoon of July 8 and spent that weekend visiting museums, parks and other places. I didn’t think too much of a little discomfort in my chest about 11 a.m. July 11 which I attributed to intense heat as the culprit.

Well, come 10 p.m. Monday, I had called 911. The discomfort in my chest had returned, this time much more severe. Having been through a heart attack Dec. 24, 2004, I knew what was happening. Within two minutes of calling 911, Raleigh firefighters/EMTs were in my hotel room. A minute later, they were joined by Wake County EMS personnel. Within minutes, I was at WakeMed.

Before I forget, it is a small world. Some of the Raleigh firefighters/EMTs, when they found out I live in Washington, asked me if I knew Robbie Rose and several other current or former Washington firefighters/EMTs. I informed them I knew those folks, adding that Robbie Rose is now fire chief.

Back to WakeMed. The doctors, nurses and others in the chest-pain section worked fast to get me stabilized. Dr. John Kelley took care of me first, before handing me over the next day (July 12) to Dr. James Nutt. That’s right, one of my doctors is a Nutt.

The way Dr. Nutt tells it, he spells his last name with two T’s to distinguish himself from all the other nuts in the world. I knew I was in good hands.

As Dr. Nutt prepared to perform a catheterization on me the morning of July 12 (I was sedated, but somewhat aware of what was happening during the procedure), he told me: “You may hear some technical terms such as ‘Oops.’ Don’t worry about them.”

About two hours later, I was back in cardiac intensive care. A blockage in the artery that runs down the front of my heart had been removed and a stent put into place. And, yes, for those of you who may have had some doubts, the procedure did confirm that I do, indeed, have a heart.

While recuperating in cardiac intensive care, I met Misty Carroll, a registered nurse. She and her family visit Washington from time to time, putting their kayaks in at Haven’s Gardens and other places in the area and paddling area waters. If my memory serves me correctly, Misty has three daughters. That’s four females of the species at home, when they’re all there. I pity Misty’s husband, Ray. The man must have the patience of Job.

We all know hospital food leaves something to be desired. Well, in the case of WakeMed, it left me desiring more, especially the baked chicken and steamed cabbage.

During a second procedure, this one to determine if I needed a small defibrillator implanted in my torso (I don’t need it), I observed Dr. George Hamrick evaluating and manipulating my heart rhythm at what looked like a NASA control board. He was busy, so the three nurses and I talked about the best penny candies we bought in our younger days. My favorite? Easy. I liked those Atkinson peanut-butter logs. We also talked about Pixie Sticks, which cost a bit more than a penny, but anyone who grew up in the 1960s knows that Pixie Sticks were worth the extra money.

They say laughter is excellent medicine. Well, there was plenty of humor — and great care — at WakeMed. I left there feeling better than when I arrived.

Sometimes you need a Nutt. Sometimes you don’t. This time, a Nutt came in handy.

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. While at WakeMed, he discovered that high-fashion hospital wear has changed little over the years. Hospital gowns still have that void where there should not be a void — no ifs, ands or butts about it.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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