While walking Cosmo, I felt what at first seemed to be more like winter or cold weather asthma. That feeling you get in your chest from inhaling too much cold air through your mouth. After resting a moment, the symptoms subsided. I finished the walk, though a bit out of breath.
At home things quickly accelerated.
At first, I seemed fine. I emailed Kimberly about recording the evening’s podcast segment. I made some soup. When the symptoms returned, I began to feel numbness in my left arm. I alerted my wife to the condition, apologized for potentially scaring her, and asked her to get me to a doctor. We headed for urgent care, as it was just a few minutes away. During the drive, the symptoms disappeared again.
At urgent care check-in, they came back with a bit more enthusiasm. I notified the staff and they jumped into action. The EMT’s were called to take me to the hospital. I received a good dose of aspirin and nitroglycerin to no immediate effect at urgent care but my EKG said heart attack. When the EMT’s arrived, I received additional meds including fentanyl. (Yes, fentanyl).
About halfway to the hospital, the meds began to do their work and my next EKG in the ambulance looked normal.
The pain had subsided, though my left arm still felt very strange.
At St. Joseph’s Hospital (all my physicians are associated with them) I rolled in as a code blue, was promptly examined tested, x-rayed, tubed, and eventually dyed (internally – to look for clots). Two clogged arteries. Two stents placed.
These people all knew their business and knew it well. We’re talking a crowd of folks swirling around you in a fascinating dance. We even had a few laughs.
No, I don’t recall ever being scared. But it was very surreal. I was busy answering questions about medical history, age, height, weight, and reporting on how I felt at any given moment throughout the process. I answered many of these questions for many people and things proceeded in a very predictable manner from symptoms to treatments. Lots of forms were signed in between.
Everyone involved was great, and it was “over” within moments that seemed like no time at all.
I was moved to the ICU where all sorts of equipment were attached. More forms.
I had not felt any pain for some time, and my vitals were all good. Once everything was attached (EKG, oxygen, blood pressure cuff automated on a timer) I settled in feeling like I did when I woke up that morning. The same. Normal. Of course, that wasn’t quite the case.
Several folks came to explain what to watch for, to report, how things worked, and what we’d be learning the next day; how life changes after a heart attack.
When that was over, I sent a few texts and emails. I told a few folks what had happened (like work) and all was apparently well and that I felt good. And yes, I’d be taking a few days off. I’d asked my wife to call Kimberly earlier to cancel the podcast recording that night. I was, as it turns out, going to be busy. So I emailed them an update from the ICU having told my wife to tell Kimberly it was OK to tell the GrokCrew why.
When my phone ran out of battery so I settled in for the night.
The final analysis is that at least one vessel feeding my heart was 99% blocked and a second was 90% blocked. They told me I was “this close” to my heart stopping. Put your fingertips as close together as you can without touching. About that close.
Someone said I was lucky. I don’t disagree.
No history of high blood pressure, no diabetes, no smoking (not for over 20 years), but slightly elevated cholesterol was clearly part of the problem and maybe genetics. But I don’t recall any clear signs of early warming. If I overthink it maybe but nothing that would have me move up an annual physical due in about a month.
Hey, we’ll have something different to talk about, right?
I’ve had more than a few checks and tests and plenty more to come. I’ll have some restrictions on diet, activity, anyone who knows the drill, knows the drill. But I am mobile and stable (at least physically – that’s for our liberal friends) and expect to be home tomorrow with a pile of prescriptions for the cardiac cocktail and some rules for physical activity.
I’m ready for the next chapter. Seems like it will probably help me live longer which means more blogs, and podcasts, and annoying the far-left and not the so far left.
I’d like to thank everyone who emailed, called, IM’d and texted, and some extended family who asked to drop by for a visit. We knew early on in the ICU I probably wouldn’t be staying long. I only didn’t get a room out of ICU until mid-afternoon because there were no rooms open so no point in letting folks know they could visit when I didn’t know where. But I know a lot of you wanted to and I appreciate that.
Plenty of work ahead not the least of which is the medical bills but much like the event that created them, it will appear surreal and we’ll tackle that, the PT, the diet changes, and all the rest of it.
Knowing so many of you cared enough to make time to send prayers and wishes makes all of that easier.