Wednesday, September 09, 2015

My Heart and Me

I've gone over the story of my heart attack and recovery a number of times, but never written much about it.  Also, this blog has pretty much been sitting unused for months and this sort of thing fits better here than over on Shot's Shack anyway.  I'm not naming any of the doctors or nurses that treated me, only the hospitals.  In general I can't say anything really bad about the nurses and attendants at either place.

I'm going to be honest and say that having a heart attack was both a surprise and not a complete shock. Nobody sits around waiting for one to happen, but considering my 'lifestyle' it was only a matter of time, I suppose.  I've always been overweight, except for the years I was in the service and a few years after graduating from college. The same goes for any type of exercise, which I pretty much vowed never to do again once my enlistment was up.

On July 31st (a Friday evening), I developed a headache and a short time later pains in my chest.  It wasn't the sharp pain you'd probably recognize, but rather a heaviness. Like a band was across the upper part of my chest making it difficult to breath.  I didn't connect the two and thought the tightness was just indigestion from our earlier take-out dinner.  I took some Tylenol and some Pepto Bismol before going to bed.  I had a difficult night, waking up a few times soaked in sweat.  I just changed my t-shirt and went back to bed.  I got up early on Saturday morning, as I was scheduled to go to work.

I still had the headache and "indigestion" so took some more Pepto.  I told Donna I wasn't feeling good and explained the symptoms.  She took my blood pressure, which wasn't really that high, but she suggested I stay home.  We went back and forth, but I finally agreed to call in.  I said I'd go to a 'walk-in' clinic later.  While I was getting dressed to drive there, Donna called 911 and before you know it there was a fire engine and ambulance pulling up in front.  We are pretty much right between two fire houses, so the response time is generally good.  Of course, being in a 'senior community' as we are the 1st Responders are pretty familiar with the neighborhood.

When the EMS folks got there they took my vitals and were pretty sure that I was having a heart attack.  I was given a spray of nitroglycerin and some 'baby' aspirin, then I walked myself downstairs and got on the stretcher, since I did feel a little better. We have been to Mission Hospital before in the ER and know some doctors and nurses who work there.  It isn't far, even without the ambulance using lights or siren. I was immediately brought into a room in the ER and hooked up to even more monitors.  The IV the EMS guys had given me was removed and another placed, plus I was immediately put on oxygen for the first of several times.

One of the cardiologists came in later and spoke to Donna and I.  He told me that they would be performing an angiogram on me the following day.  By this point, to my surprise, Kristina and Sarah showed up.  I felt bad that they had driven up from San Diego, but can't deny it made me feel good to have all my girls with me.  Donna told me later that the cardiologist had pulled her and Kristina aside and told them that they might be scheduling me for open heart surgery.  Just as well I was kept in the dark about that.  I was scared enough.

I'll have more about this in the next day or so.  I promise that this won't be as long as my San Diego Comic-con report. :-)