Friday, December 22, 2006

A Week Of Ups And Downs

I just got home from a two night stay at the hospital.

Cut to the important part: I'm fine. I'm still a little sickly but I'll be better soon.

Did you know that the patient is awake during a heart catheterization and gets to see the video of their blood vessels and stuff? I didn't know until it happened to me. It's pretty cool technology: they punch a hole in an artery in your groin and then guide a variety of catheters up into your heart where they dye your blood and take x-ray video to look for blockages and narrowing. There are no nerves in your blood vessels so except for the pain from the hole in my groin and the strange sensations involved with manipulating the entry site itself, it's not unpleasant at all. There is a chance the procedure could actually cause a heart attack which explains why they don't do it to everyone at their checkups.

Back to my week:

Monday I woke up feeling very nauseated. I fed the dog, called in sick to work, then got all sweaty and sat at the base of the stairs back up to the bedrooms. That's when I lost consciousness. Luckily Kelli was there and found me in just seconds. She called 911. Just a few seconds later I had regained consciousness but the medics came and we went to the hospital.

Monday I was in the emergency room from 06:45 to 17:00hrs. They checked heart enzymes to see if I had a heart attack; negative. They did an EKG: no abnormal rhythm. A cardiologist examined my chart and thought to check for a pulmonary embolism. They did a CT scan of my lungs with dye in the blood vessels. No clots. My EKG had a little "smear" on it which a cardiologist wanted to follow up on later but otherwise I was told "You've got a virus, go home and rest." Okay, done. Monday night and most of Tuesday I slept.

Wednesday I woke up and felt a little tightness in my chest. It felt like I had somehow slept on my chest wrong. It wasn't sharp but it did not go away. I have answered far too many 911 calls to ignore chest pain so I woke Kelli up and we went back to the hospital. (Technically I should have called 911 again and had the medics respond so don't follow my example here.)

That's when it got significantly more interesting.

My first EKG showed something a little irregular. The did another one and it came back normal. My blood enzymes came back with elevated troponin. That's not good. That's an indicator of heart muscle damage, usually from a heart attack.

So they told me I'd likely had a mild heart attack and it was time to do the big tests. The cardiologist called the cath-lab and set me up for the angiography. They found the blood vessels in my heart are fine – no obstructions or constrictions.

Therefore no heart attack.

The cardiologist thinks I had a virus which caused some inflammation to my heart. This accounts for both being sick in the first place and for the release of the enzymes. The enzymes are gone and an echocardiogram showed the heart muscle is moving around just fine.

I'm going to follow up and likely get an MRI and probably a stress test just to be sure but I'm feeling much better now.

So is my wife and the rest of my family who were pretty worried during the whole deal.

I was worried too but also thought "Oh man, that means I'm going to have to post on my blog that I'd had a heart attack at 37. The shame; the shame."

My intention is to use this as a nice wake up call and get my health on track. You'll be the judge. Perhaps next year I can be swelling with pride over not being quite such a big fat guy.



Heart Catheter


Jas said...

Well, as part of your family, I appreciate that :

A) you have good health coverage
B) you have a knowledeable wife
C) you have a responsive wife
D) you have your health still

All things happen for a reason, perhaps this is a good motivator to institute a change if you want to. Often in life we don't get many second chances, I'd say philisophically that this is one of those chances.

We're all glad, relieved, and grateful that you are ok.

We want you around for a good long time, even if you can be a pain in the ass. ;)

theWatchList said...

I went through the same type of thing at age 18. 3 days later I was out of commission with mono.

I had terrible chest pains, so bad they woke me from my sleep. The first time I didn't tell anyone. I laid in bed for a few hours and waited it out. Once it happened again (less than 8 hours later), I went to the hospital. They sent me home after doing blood work and a number of tests, all of course finding nothing.

The next morning it happens again. I didn't go to the hospital on that one either. I was annoyed because of having to wait hours in the ER the first time to see anyone (to the point the chest pains had cleared by the time they finally pulled me out of the lobby). Hours later though, it happened again. Back to the ER. More waiting in the lobby. Then finally blood work showed a high white blood cell count. Nothing else showed a thing out of the ordinary... They told me they couldn't figure it out and that I'd likely have to return.

Luckily that was the last of the chest pain. But... Then came the mono. 3 week later I was back to normal (well, pretty much).

Good luck. Hopefully they have you on the mend and that this is the end of it and not the beginning.

John Cowart said...

Wow, Eric, this is scary stuff.

I'd been wondering why you haven't posted in a while.

Really glad that you're ok.

KaraMia said...

my mom passed away from complications from a bypass...she had seven surgeries while in the hospital for three months before she did. I NEVER want to go out that way. It still haunts me.

PJ said...

Been there, done that and got the scars to prove it. In 2000 after my heart cath. they found three blockages, then whistled me down to a big city hospital, where they found five blockages. After they began the bypass procedure they did seven bypasses. The point is, you're a lucky guy. Get straight with your health and your God. Keep well my friend, and I hope your Christmas was especially blessed.

MOM said...

As far as Christmas seasons go, this has been a really chaotic one for our family.......but a truly blessed one.

Who could ask for better news (from official sorces other than just proud parents) than that your kid has a great heart!! And pretty good arteries too.

This is a good reminder for the whole family that - You can't take care of the rest of the tribe if you don't take care of YOU first.

So here is a request from all of attention and take care of your health, it matters!!

Dad and I expect you all to be around to take care of us in our old age.

Happy New Year to all.