A Funny Thing Happened ... while walking down my driveway Monday morning (January 2, 2006) to get the newspaper. I had a heart attack. (Hmmmm. That's another compelling reason to cancel my subscription.)
Last Thursday, I began to experience neck and shoulder pains. I brushed it off as the typical aches of old age and treated it with the usual suspects - Advil, Vicodin, etc.
Early Monday, the pain in my shoulders began to move down my arms and I felt tightness in my chest and was slightly winded. I knew what the signs were but I am such a macho moron that I wouldn't let my wife call 911. Instead, I arm-twisted her into driving me over to the new Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital. I wanted to walk into the hospital on my own legs - a very stupid idea, by the way. Don't try this at home, folks.
The ER docs at Legacy confirmed that I had a myocardial infarction and got me stabilized with oxygen, nitroglycerin, morphine and other stuff. Then, since Legacy doesn't yet have a Cardiac Care Unit (we didn't know that), they shipped me off to the other Vancouver Hospital - Southwest Medical Center. The ambulance driver was our former neighbor - a cool guy and a Harley owner. He is now the head paramedic at his employer and, when he heard that the call was for me, he insisted on "driving the bus".
I had a fun ambulance ride. I enjoyed looking out the back window and seeing all those cars pulled over on the shoulder - just for me - and hearing the occasional ear-splitting WHOOOP-WHOOOP directed at the unseeing idiots hogging the left lane of the freeway. The WHOOOP-WHOOOP was loud enough that some of these left-lane morons probably suffered their own myocardial infarctions. (This may be an excellent way for ambulance companies to maintain a steady flow of new customers.)
I also experienced a lot of rapid rolling down hospital corridors on gurneys while watching the overhead fluorescents whiz by (just like in the movies), was given some very amazing and relaxing drugs and several doses of bland hospital food. I also had great medical care at every step.
The cardiac team did an angioplasty on my lower heart (posterior descending artery) which was completely blocked and put in Taxus stents. I was in the Critical Cardiac Care unit on Monday and part of Tuesday. I then was moved to the regular cardiac care section and was discharged at 7:00 am Wednesday - only two days after my heart attack. Another miracle of modern medicine.
It is great to be home. I will be taking it easy for a while. I now have the two stents in me - I think of them as My Twin Glasspacks:
My Plymouth has twin Glasspacks. Now I do, too!
A friend asked if I had "that new keyhole heart surgery." I had to inform him that an angioplasty is generally performed by snaking a wire through an incision in the groin. He couldn't seem to get his head around this concept. Well, neither can I but that's how it's done. "Take off your pants and I will make your heart feel better" is something you expect to hear in a Marseilles brothel rather than in an operating theater. But, I have it on good authority that, at the brothel, they don't shave you first. Technology - it's both strange and wonderful.
I'm feeling reasonably good but I'm tired from drugs and lack of sleep. And I have a lot of bruises - blood thinner related. I also have the usual aches and pains from too much laying down on strange, uncomfortable beds.
I am now motivated to get into a formal, consistent exercise program and begin eating healthier. My wife will keep me in line. She has said so - and she means it. Good. It's exactly what I need. (posted 1/4/06)
Update - May 9, 2006: I had a second angioplasty last week and now have a total of seven stents. Thanks to technology, medical miracles are an everyday occurrence. Here's a before-and-after look at my heart, showing arterial blood flow: