Monday, February 13, 2012

Wish I Could Have Bypassed 2003!


13 February 2012

2003 was the year that all my reckless living and lack of attention to my health caught up with me. During the 4th of July weekend at a holiday BBQ, I was playing with a friends little boy, tossing him up in the air and catching him. As I tossed him upwards one time, I noticed a very sharp pain in my right shoulder and chest area. I caught the little boy sat him down and continued to feel the pain. I figured it was a pulled muscle from tossing the boy. The following Monday, The pain had subsided by then and I was left with a slight bruised feeling in my chest and shoulder area. I went into the family doctor who gave me some pain pills and sent me on my way.

Later that month, I was at home on the phone with a client and scheduling a service at his establishment and talking about his issues there. I was not exerting myself at all. I suddenly began sweating excessively, became somewhat nauseous and my body went weak. I felt the energy drain from my body from the top of my head and that sensation traveled down the entire length of my body. I told my client. “Hey, I’m sorry but we’re going to have to cancel tonight’s service. I think I’m having a heart attack.” I went sat next to my wife and told her that it was time for me to go to the hospital. I didn’t have any serious pain in my chest at all but I was feeling something that I had never felt before and I knew without question, it was time to go to the ER.

We drove to the ER. I had my last two cigarettes on the way. Somehow I knew they’d be the last. Once I finally got into the ER and seen by a doctor. They did a full cardiac workup on me. EKG, chest x-ray and blood tests and the doctor confirmed that I had a heart attack. I was admitted that day for observations and a heart catheterization. In the days following the heart attack my chest was definitely bruised feeling. I was not allowed to drive and if you have ever recovered from a heart attack and pressed the breaks the first time, the pain is impressive. You feel weakened, physically drained after even the least exertion. After some recovery time the Cardiologist scheduled a Stress test. The cardiologist I initially saw determined that I could be treated with drugs only and prescribed aspirin (81 mg), some type of high blood pressure medicine and Baycol, a statin that is now off the market. I had trouble with the drugs at first. The Baycol was changed to Lipitor with both drugs causing leg cramps and just left me feeling even more tired

After a little over a month, I was cleared to return to work. Normally on one standard service call, it would take me 45 minutes to complete the job. It was now taking me up to 2 hours. During which I would sweat excessively, get that pinchy feeling in my neck and feel very sluggish as I would move about. I would take nitro pills to help me finish the job. My wife was urging me to get a second opinion and see another cardiologist to which I resisted of course. Finally after a month I began seeing a second cardiologist and during an afternoon service call at work, I was complaining to my wife of a painful sensation in my right leg near the groin area. It felt like a pinching or like someone had a finger poking me deep into my upper inner leg area. It was bothersome. After a few minutes of telling my wife this and hanging up, my wife called back and told me to come home immediately that the cardiologist wanted to see me.

The doctor had ordered another round of blood tests, EKG and an ultrasound of my leg and heart area. He looked at the results of my first stress test and the results of his testing and told me that I needed a heart bypass as soon as possible. My cardiologist referred me to a Thoracic surgeon in Louisville’s Jewish Hospital.

Our initial consult with the surgeon was brief.  He advised me that he had talked with my cardiologist, seen the tests and agreed a 3 vessel bypass was needed immediately. I asked him if I did not have this surgery, how long would I live? His response was “If I do not have this surgery I expect you to live, at the most, 6 months.” I knew it was coming. Still, his words hit me upside the face like a well delivered slap and I felt completely numb. I was on auto-pilot. I couldn’t look at my wife, my head lowered. I raised my eyes to look at my surgeon and told him to “Go ahead, let’s do the surgery” But I told him that I believed I would not survive it. I was convinced my days were done. He assured me that I would survive and he explained the procedure and that my quality of  life would greatly improve post-surgery, so long as I continued with some of the life style changes I had already made (no smoking, no drinking) I could expect to lead a normal healthy life up into my 80’s. Still numbed I left the office convinced my days were numbered. My bypass surgery was scheduled for 23 October 2003.

Have a Blessed Day!

Today’s “Did Ya Know?” It’s “National Get a Different Name” Day!!!! If you want to change your name, or maybe you need to for certain legal reasons, then today is the day to do that!!!! You have a lot of stuff to do in order to make that change (social security, DMV, lawyer and court stuff) so ya better get to it! It’s also “National Tortellini Day”!!! Over in Bologna Italy, there is a secret underground society, the Learned Order of the Tortellini, whose lifelong task is to preserve the tortellini! These guys are serious about it and you can check that out via the link below!!


Today’s Related Links:

I’m posting this link to the American Heart Association again. There are all kinds of info on ways to maintain good heart health here:

National Tortellini Day:

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