I felt it creeping up on me slowly at first. Thud-thud-thud inside my chest. Suddenly it stood up, lunging at me and becoming a huge monster, swinging a sharp ax trying to cut its way out by the middle of my chest. I did not realize what was happening and laid back on my bed and just absorbed the pain. A wild excruciating death trumpet blaring in my ears as the monster flailed its ax to chop its way out...I knew that I was in deep trouble. I mean I knew I was in deep shit.
I was then that I realized it was the grim reaper`s death signal that was fighting to climb into bed with me, a chilling time as I felt I could not take the pain any longer. I sounded the alarm.
My son transported me to ER early Wednesday morning and I was admitted at Aurora St lukes around 9:30 a.m. as it was quickly determined that I had signs of heart trouble.
Cardiac technicians confirmed after tests that indeed I had suffered a massive cardiac arrest.
I am now recuperating at home this Monday morning. It is sunny outside but inside of me it is so dark. I am not the same Ole Texan you have come to know through the years I have been here. A new life was basically handed to me as I left the hospital. I do not know if I want to accept this new existence, one changing my whole lifestyle that includes what I eat, how I walk and breath are just a few of the reward nuggets I get for surviving.
It is now July 1st in the morning and I am in a rage with myself. I am struggling to type and decipher my own message. I have seen and read of so much pain and sufferings here at Daily Kos and I could not bring myself to add to that. It is my loyalty however, to the community that tells me to confide with you by telling what follows. Maybe some one here will learn from my mistake.
I arrived back home this past Friday around 6: 00 p.m., with a mountain of rules and regulations typed on booklets and memos that I must read and follow for the rest of my new life. Plus, take my medications for life -- or die....Just like that, in my face. I am fuming because in my whole life I never took an aspirin. Now I must take one for the rest of my life, every day without excuses -- or die.
In addition, I now have to take four different life-saving pills daily to accompany that aspirin. Does that suck, or what?
My family noticed my change immediately and tried to talk sense to me. They knew I was totally broken and I was trying to isolate myself from even the day light, relegating my time enclosed in my bedroom pretending to be reading or watching t.v...Brooding, feeling deep unhappiness of thought that my life was now slowly ebbing away. Then I realized that my lovely wife knows me better than I know myself. She has now brought me back down from my high stupid and wobbly horse. I think I will be O.K. now.
Note the arrogant tone I use in my first paragraph above. I based that on my confusion when the pain was being dished out to me by the monster with the ax. I always had the wrong perception of a heart attack. If you are like me in this situation, please listen up.
When one thinks of a massive heart attack, the first thing that comes to mind is that attack that downs and kills a person before they hit the floor. At least that is how I always envisioned in my mind a massive heart attack striking a victim. That is not the case in all stricken patients as I have learned. I want to pass this along to those who do not understand the symptoms and the underlying factors of how this deadly monster strikes, with or without an ax.
I was transported in emergency mode freaked out completely on a wheel chair towards the Cardiac unit of the hospital last Wednesday morning. I was freaking out because the transporter driving the wheel chair was racing down the halls with my son in hot pursuit. I was not in pain. In fact I had felt no pain the whole way when I was being driven to the hospital by my son. To give you an idea of my past perception of a heart attack, at this point I did not know that I had indeed suffered a massive heart attack during the time I was laying on my bed taking that beating by the monster inside of my chest.
One of the first questions put to me by the Cardiologist who examined me on arrival was whether I was in pain. I told him the truth. I was not and in fact I told him that the pain was now gone.
Nonetheless, these people know things I did not. I was surrounded by nurses staff and strapped with heart monitors on my chest. An IV needle was injected into a vain in my hand with the tube line hooked to a hanging blood thinning solution bag and told to lie still on a bed.
Other nurses drew blood for further tests. I answered in the affirmative when asked if I had felt weak with a shortness of breath anytime near to when I felt my chest pains. Having taken the necessary blood and an xray of my chest (placing the cold slab) on my back for the xray, my son was told that I would be taken care of.
My son was worried and I could easily see that. I told him I would call as soon as I could. He left and I settled in for my stay at the hospital and wait for the results of the tests.
I had been in the hospital several hours absent of any pain. The Cardiologist came into my room. He told me that I had suffered a heart attack. Now I really freaked out.
The tiredness and loss of breath troubles I experienced were signs of heart trouble known as Angina he told me. He would arrange for me to undergo an echocardiogram stress testing, or a nuclear scan that would show problems that occurred when my heart went into trouble.
On Thursday Cardiologists had already determined that I needed to undergo a Cardiac procedure called Cardiac Catheterization and subjected me to the appropriate medications for the job that would correct my blocked blood vessels in my heart.
The echocardiogram test on a heart involves a technique similar to a woman`s test when she looks into a monitor to see a fetus. In my case I could see my heart pumping and the technician developing areas of concern for the Cardiologist to use when he performed the upcoming Caridac Catherization at 2:00 p.m. that same Thursday.
At exactly 2:00 p.m. Thursday I was wheeled on a rolling bed from my 5th floor room down into what I perceived to be the basement of this now monumental hospital. Upon entering the Cardiac Catherization (Cath Lab) spacious room, I was wheeled aside where I was to wait for operations to begin. Talk about feeling freaked out! I just knew I would die that day.
As I was moved close to the large monitors that the Cardiologist has set up to see a patients heart during surgery I was totally overwhelmed by the size and cleanness of everything I saw. I was already aware and prepared for what was to follow here as I was placed on my back on an xray table that is used for this procedure. I had been appropriately coached by nurses and hospital staff to what was expected. I had no choice.
Soon I saw the Cardiologist who I had met briefly on two occasion during my stay on the 5th floor. He explained what he was about to do.
The nursing staff working with him cleaned and shaved the area around my groin. It is here that the Cardiologist was to enter into my heart from my groin, up through a large vein and all around the heart. Some of my blood vessels were blocked and the heart was not getting sufficient oxygen and I was dying, slowly buy surely.
The areas in my heart that were blocked and blood not running smoothly, had to be cleared.
The doctor told me that he would numb the spot where he would insert a sheath into an artery in my groin. The only pain or discomfort I felt during all of this is when the sheath was inserted and slid up into the large vein through a small cut in my groin. When it was all in, several inches long and in the vein, a catherer is slid over a guide wire. The guide wire is then inserted into the sheath and threaded through the blood vessels to the heart.
Coronary Angiography is a way of taking x-ray pictures of the arteries in the heart. X-ray die is injected into the arteries through the catherer. This allows them to show up on x-rays. Several images showing the locations of any blockages.
In my case it was decided to unblock two arteries and place a stent on each location of blockage by sending a balloon into the arteries. The balloon is inflated and unflated one of more times to open the artery. This is followed by placement of a stent. As you may know, a stent is a meshed wire that fits inside a blocked vein. It is sent by way of the caterer in a small balloon inflated to correspond in size with the blocked artery. Once inside the artery the balloon is removed and the stents will remain inside of my arteries for as long as I live.
Basically, what transpired in this new Ole Texan`s story is that my blood clotted heart is now repaired, clean and churning like new once again, or so the Cardiologists assured me.
It has now been since this past Friday that I am unable to accept that it has come down to this for me. Aside from my required medications, I need to keep my blood pressure in check. I have had high blood pressure for as long as I can remember. It has now come home to roost also.
I have to keep my weigh in check on top of everything else. I have to look for a cheap digital scale soon. I also have to (as in emergency) locate and buy a Sphygmanometer! My blood pressure depends on me to continue on my voyage.
But I am good. Believe me. Ole Texan is going nowhere soon.
Despite feeling barren, brooding and feeling deep unhappiness of thought that my life is now slowly ebbing away. Everything is O.K. here at my home. I have a strong family who is supporting me. Because I know, that they know -- that only one ole Texan will ever live.
I cannot close this diary without acknowledging my great appreciation to the nursing staff that worked side by side with the Cardiologist to assure that I lived to write this. If I felt it appropriate to name those folks I would gladly do so. I do not have permission as I never even thought I would get this far, so I did not ask.
P.S. I am pressing the publish button now. I may not be here to maintain this diary this evening as I feel a bit tired. I promise I will however as soon as I can.