Thursday, February 9, 2012

Warning Signs

9 February 2012

Yesterday I talked about what I believed to have been my first noticed cardiac event. A minor heart attack at age 20. Today I am going to talk about some of the warning signs that I had between that first event in 1980 and up to my heart attacks in July of 2003.

I made the United States Air Force a career, beginning in 1978 to retirement in 1998. Throughout most of my early career I was pretty active. I played slow-pitch softball and every now and then I’d join a flag football league. I always participated in what we called “After Swings” Bowling tournaments though I’d hardly call that athletic. During my career I smoked cigarettes, drank like a fish and generally ate what I wanted when I wanted. I drank coffee from sunrise to sunset. With the exception of some martial arts classes and a few brief “flings” at the gymnasium. I did little to maintain to improve my health.

It showed whenever I went to the doctors for physicals and check-ups. Every time I went, they would tell me the same thing. “You are borderline diabetic” and “You have borderline high blood pressure”. For the diabetes the military doctors did not do too much beyond advising me to watch my sugar intake because at that time I took 3 tsps. of sugar in my coffee. I did not eat a lot of candy or other sugary treats. For the blood pressure they would make me come in for blood pressure checks every morning at 0700 for a week. Afterwards the consensus was that no meds were needed at the time, just watch my diet and exercise more. Something I never really did. No follow-ups beyond that were done and no EKG or heart checks were done either.

I began noticing some warning signs in the late 80’s. I would feel tightening in the chest and my arms would get tingling sensations. Usually these would go away after a moment or two and typically came when I was extremely tired or under stress. My job in the Air Force, at times, could be very stressful. Over the years I noticed these events would increase in frequency and would also involve abdominal cramping, headaches and numbness in one or both arms. Never really had a time where I would have sharp pains in the chest. Just some tightness that would sometimes make my breathing a little labored. Sometimes I would get a pain in my neck. It would feel like a pinching, normally this would happen on the left side of my neck. I displayed all the classic warning signs through my retirement in 1998 up until July of 2003 when the warning signs turned more serious and it was nearly too late to do anything about it.

I never told anybody in my chain of command and I never complained to any doctor about any of this. I always would say to myself “If it happens again, I’ll go in and see a doctor” though I never ever did. A lot of what kept me from going in was a basic fear of doctors and I think I was afraid to hear what I knew was the truth. That I had a damaged heart and I needed medical attention. I think I always knew that I was sick. I loved my job in the Air Force and my biggest fear was that I would be kicked out of the Air Force on a medical discharge. Ignorance and fear has rendered me medically disabled and while my quality of life is good, it could have been a whole lot better had I been smarter about my health and if I had the guts to take care of myself. So my message here is get to know the warning signs and do something about it if you think you have a problem. Because if you are thinking that you do, if you have “that feeling”, then you probably do and you should get yourself checked out. Better to do so and be wrong than not do so and wind up like me, writing in a blog telling the world how much of a chicken shit you were.

Have a Blessed Day!

Todays “Did Ya Know?” It’s “National Read in the Bathtub Day”! Now I assume that the tub is supposed to be full of water but hey, fill it with Jell-O or pudding if it strikes your fancy! If reading relaxes you and bathing relaxes you, then today is a day for you!!!!! It’s also “National Toothache Day”. Good time to get a checkup of your teeth and gums! No links for either of these holidays but who needs a link when you got a toothache and you need to take a bath?!

Todays Related Links:

Some Heart Attack Warning Signs:

Additional symptom info. I like this article as it highlights how some symptoms differ in women. I disagree as I’ve had some of the symptoms attributed to women but, it’s important to know that different people exhibit different symptoms.

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