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.