I just had a heart attack!
on Tuesday as I was driving myself home from work.
I went straight to the hospital once I felt the strange new pain radiate down my arm. At the hospital, I was processed in minutes and rushed to an EKG. The lady then rushed off to "have the doctor sign off on it" and when she returned, she RAN my wheelchair to the new area for receiving ambulances and into a "resuscitation room." The name alone scared me!
There, a team of 8 to 10 met me and asked if I could stand, told me to take off my top and bottom, and while I was doing that, a lady whipped off my bra. I lay down and a very choreographed dance went on around me for several minutes. The doctor actually had a podium, I think. She had welcomed me as my flying wheelchair arrived. They asked questions and I answered, they redid the EKG, and it became very clear that something was happening. The doc said I was very smart to come right to the hospital.
As things calmed and they said they were admitting me, one called out and asked if I was going to the cath lab. The doc said no - to ICU. Whoa, Jenny! I asked them to look for my husband, "can you find me a husband along the way?" At which they all joked with me about the hospital being a bad place to be husband hunting. I went into a regular ER room for a while and we did find my DH as we got there. Soon I was up in the ICU!
Eventually I learned that the initial EKG was "suspicious," the initial blood work did not show any heart muscle damage,
and we were not sure I had a heart attack, but the 1:00 am bloodwork did show it. So I did have a heart attack. A cardiologist saw me and said I would likely have a cardiac cath in the morning. I was up all night, kind of too anxious and blown away to sleep.
Would you believe you can now use your cell phone and even your laptop in ICU? I spent the night on the Garden Web and Petfinder, just reading and skipping around. It was like a regular all-nighter on-line, and surprisingly comforting!
They did a cath at 11 am and the doc was shocked to see that my coronary arteries are immaculate. No plaque. No cholesterol build-up. But one tiny artery off to the side did show a 90% blockage down where it was too narrow to do anything about. "Tortuous," he described it to my DH later, a bit of a twist, some sharp curve, and maybe something blocking from inside, too.
In the end, I had a small heart attack in the interior wall. I seem to have a few risk factors for heart attacks, but not the ones you most think about. I have never smoked, drink only occasionally and not much, no cocaine use in my past, cholesterol was low (140 to 170) up until the last few years. Blood pressure was occasionally high at the doc's office, but not at home. BUT I am quite obese. My sister (who also has only obesity as a risk factor) had a tiny heart attack almost a year ago.) Neither parent had heart attacks. My other risk factors are that I have been stressed lately at work, I have several autoimmune diseases that leave me in a constant state of inflammation, and I (gulp!) have white hair. Never heard of the white hair one before, but found it today on line.
I am not looking for a list of "I am so sorry" comments in the style of the kitchen forum "Lovely, such a nice use of your space!" replies. I guess I just want to tell you. It has got me kind of flummoxed. I am only just 52! It has been rattling around my brain all day as I try to figure out how my life will change, and how my vision of myself will change, and who will I tell (my nursing home clients?) about it.
It also makes me wonder how much do we NOT know about heart attacks. The doc said, as he showed me the image on the fluoroscope, that he was shocked to see how clean my arteries are. It sounds almost like they do not know why I had a heart attack. Heck - a week ago I was shoveling snow and breathless outside in 15 degree weather! Why did I not have it then? I really think there is a whole other part of heart disease that is not cholesterol and high blood pressure that the docs don't even investigate because there is no drug-maker financing the research.
Oh, yea, since the AMA or AHA, or whatever the organization is that determines these things, has a protocol for treating heart disease, I DO get to take a beta blocker, an ace inhibitor, a statin and Plavix. Two meds for BP (and mine is not high), one for cholesterol (and mine is not high enough to warrant medicating it otherwise) and a blood thinner (for someone who already bruises like a ripe Georgia peach) because research says that this is what works for most people with heart attacks. Hello? Most people with heart attacks also have blockages! What do you do to treat those of us without them?
Have any of you had a similar experience? Any insights? It is so weird to be walking around today so different from what I was on Tuesday.