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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How do you mend a broken heart…aka. my heart attack

So, this was a very interesting ride I just went on. one I don’t want to go again, but is now in my future at any given time. It all started on Monday the 11th…

My back started hurting. It started out in the upper back, ranging into my neck, and down my arms…both of them. I didn’t think anything of it, because I get back pain all the time (ok, now I know) but as each day progressed, the back pain became more intense and spread further. I never once considered a heart attack, because I did not have any other signs, looking back, I did, but they were all long term and subtle. but I am getting ahead of myself.

I had gone to the doctor Tuesday, but didn’t think of bringing it up to the doctor. I though I just pulled muscles or something. West Nile Virus, but a heart attack never once entered…

Then, come Saturday. The pain had continued to get worse and worse. Saturday morning I was woken out of a deep sleep with chest pain…or actually, extreme shortness of breath. I had figured something major was going on, but I still didn’t consider a heart attack. I was mostly still thinking of West Nile (due to 5 bug bites) or a pulled back. I couldn’t sit of for an extended period of time. Dad and Kacy had gone to get water, and Brad and Marline were in Vernal bumming around when I decided I knew I had to go to the hospital.

I waited until dad got home and I told him that it was time, and he says “Are you sure you want to go to the hospital, are you positive?” I considered giving in and saying, naw…I think I can tough it out. I am glad I didn’t.

I went to the ER and told them my symptoms. The ER doc says “These are some vague and generalized symptoms. I am not sure what to make of it. So I think I will run some blood work and give you an EKG to see where we can start out in figuring this out.

The lab came and drew the blood, and then the EKG was done. I was just lying there, wondering what they were going to find. The curtain was not pulled all the way and I had a direct view to the desk. Suddenly my doctor looked at my EKG and he started bouncing in and out of his chair, grabbing other papers and pacing. I knew something was going on…but still didn’t know what.

So he comes to the cubical and says…”Your EKG is very concerning to me. Do you have a heart doctor?” Well, I semi did, but hadn’t seen him for about 10 years, and he was a prick…sorry, but he was. now looking back, I wish I had continued to go to him, but it was more for dizziness when standing and tachycardia than anything else. So this is what I told him, and he says “You are having a heart attack right now, and we are making arrangements to fly you to a different hospital.” I thought…oh. wow. My mind just kinda went into shock.

I knew that I was high risk for a heart attack, and have known for quite some time. But never, never, did I actually consider that I would have one. Other problems…yes. But never a heart attack.

So the doctor gave me a choice of hospitals, and one I couldn’t go to because of my insurance, the other I hated, so I chose the University of Utah. I knew their reputation and I have liked their clinics for quite some time.

So they started treating me for the heart attack, gave me some blood clot dissolving medicine and went out to get my dad and Kacy. Now, that was quite the shock to dad. the most he figured was pulled muscles, and then to be told I was having a heart attack…blew his mind.

Then the helicopter came. They loaded me in…and I have to tell Kacy…thanks so much for the pictures of them doing so, because, yeah…I just enjoyed them soooooo much! *eye roll* lol.

On the way over to the hospital in the helicopter, they ended up giving me some nausea medicine and some morphine, because I was starting to get higher in pain. It was about a 55 minute ride. had some terrific views to keep me somewhat relaxed LOL.

They get me to the hospital and take me to the ICU floor. Where I discover I am on complete bed rest, I can’t even get up to use the bathroom. Now, if you know me, I cannot stand to be confined. It is the fastest way to make me crazy. It was also then that I discovered, not only did I have a heart attack, but it was a major one.

Because it was Saturday, they did not take me to the cath lab until Monday. If I had continued to get worse, they would have done an emergency one, but while I was in pain, it wasn’t a drastic pain, and they kept me loaded with morphine. They slowly started me on some new meds. adding a new one each day. I discovered that the sack around my heart had been inflamed, and so each time my heart beat, it was rubbing my heart and it hurt to sit forward. That was more the pain that I was in than actual heart attack.

Sunday they moved me out of ICU and put me in the heart patient ward. I was allowed to get up to an extent. never by myself, I had to have somebody with me. But I was able to move around a bit. The pain in the chest continued, so they continued to give me morphine. In fact, they kept me on morphine until a couple of hours before I went home yesterday.

On Monday they took me to the cath lab to see how much and where the blockages were. they were expecting to put in a stent, but they were not sure where.

They made the incision into my femoral artery in my right groin, sent in the dye, and then they discovered, I was blocked not in one place, but in two. the one that sent me to the hospital was 99% blocked, and the other was 70% blocked. They put in 3 stents. one on the 99% but the 70% was longer, and needed two stents to cover it. When I woke up…(I was not supposed to fall asleep, but I had not slept for 2 nights prior and was exhausted!)…I was amazed at the difference. but I didn’t see a whole lot of difference that day.

Then came the hardest part of the whole ordeal. I had to lay perfectly still for 6 hours. SIX HOURS!!! That killed me. the first few hours were a bit of a blur, cause I was still groggy and slept. But the last hour was the worst. It seemed to last forever. come 5.5 hours, I was begging for it to be 6 hours so I could move. and so I could get up and go to the bathroom!

Finally the 6th hour came…9 pm. I got up, but when I went to the bathroom, I was so lightheaded and short of breath and my heart started to hurt. They gave me a nitroglycerin pill…I hope to never have one again. In the movies and books, you see/read that they are grabbing their chests and gasping that they need their pills, but basically have a full recovery afterward. Ok, not so much. What they don’t portray is that it opens ALL of the blood vessels in your body so fast and with such a rush of blood that you get an immediate migraine that feels like your head is going to blow off your head. and it does not go away for quite a while. just the migraine incapacitates you. but it does almost immediately relieve the heart pain. it is not instantaneous, but you can definitely feel the effects right away. I bet it was a process of about 20 minutes for the relief of the heart.

Then came yesterday. Tuesday the 19th. I felt wonderful! Better than I had felt in forever. Marline and I hashed it over, and discovered most, if not all, of my shortness of breath, a lot of my migraines, my slow sluggish thinking, my extreme tiredness, but inability to get good rest…all caused from the heart. It had been building up for a while now, but we passed my symptoms off as something else.

Oh, and the pains I had been experiencing from that previous Monday on…they figured I was having minor heart attacks all week.

So today, I am feeling great. am starting to get a little tired from sitting at the computer for a couple of hours, and am probably going to lay down for a few after I eat, but I am so amazed at the difference. But now, I will be going to many more doctors the rest of my life. I was hoping to decrease my doctor visits, but nope. they are increasing LOL.

I want to thank the staff and both hospitals…Uintah Basin Medical Center and University of Utah, the staff of the helicopter and all of the technicians who helped me. They were all wonderful.

I also want to thank all of my family and friends who have been so supportive. I don’t think I would have recovered as fast as I did without all of you. I love ya’ll!

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