When I say “alone” it’s only because my faithful travel companion couldn’t come with me. However I had the support of my friends, co-workers, family and my vanily the entire adventure.
Perhaps I should explain that this was an unplanned but definitely not uneventful adventure. Monday morning around 5:00 in the morning I had a heart attack. While this was not the first time I felt the symptoms it was the time the I chose to act.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been awakened twice before with a pain in the center of my chest behind the sternum. Like so many of the patients I responded to as a Firefighter/EMT, I tried to pass it off. “Damn, I gotta stop eating spicy food after midnight.” The second time I argued with myself that this isn’t really what a “heart attack” feels like. I didn’t think I had an “elephant standing on my chest” or any of the ridiculous sounding terms for the tight feeling that I really was experiencing. Perhaps the anxiety kept me from noticing any light tingling in my fingers or maybe that was just the denial. You see even that denial can almost be counted as one of the symptoms of a heart attack… WARNING SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK. (Please follow this link)
So when the third time in two weeks rolled around I only argued with myself a short while. No sense in beating a dead horse, pun intended. ( Hey, I’ve never claimed to be the fastest horse in the race.) But when I finally listened to my heart, figuratively speaking i didn’t break out my old ‘scope, I got myself to the ER.
The Doc there “ran a strip” and nothing really showed up, things looked OK. But, the blood work came back with slightly elevated enzymes that might indicate some damage or distress.
There was a quick decision made I would be going to the University of Kentucky heart cath lab. (My second only ride looking between my feet out the back door of an ambulance.)
On the way there I pondered what many of the patients I’ve loaded into ambulances must have been thinking. “Am I really ‘this’ bad”, “how am I gonna break this to my family or friends”, “what happens next” and for me it suddenly struck home the role many of us in the fire service have played. The questions are out of fear of the unknown and losing control of things in our lives. And, at times even the knowledge this could be the end of our life.
For me I knew that it probably wasn’t the end but what lay ahead? when I arrived at the Gill Heart Institute heart cath lab things happened very quickly at that point. Within what seemed like 30 minutes or less I was being put on the table in the procedure room. These people really know their stuff and the importance of acting quickly. This gave me a certain level of confidence everything was gonna be alright. I was treated with human dignity and not just a “procedure”. My hat’s off to these folks.
Around the next turn was a nursing staff and support group that made me actually feel the need to explain to some that I really was in a hospital not hotel. Their attention and tending to my needs was just that of a 5 star hotel. Plus the food was really good! I kind of hated missing supper on Tuesday. Not only was the staff excellent all of the equipment they used appeared to be top-notch and new. The echo cardiogram really impressed me.
Alright, no jokes about whens my due date. That’s my heart from one of many angles it was recorded. And video taken…
It was still a stay in a hospital, and had it not been for the texts, messages and yes even the Facebook chats I would have been really bored. As it were I sat perched in the window several times watching the world eight floors beneath. I now also have a new appreciation for the times Layla is simply laying on the bed staring out the window when I’m reading and not actively playing with her.
I was released Tuesday evening the next day after my heart attack. Seems incredible that so much could have happened in less than 48hrs. I’m sitting here writing this post and still experiencing a certain emotional roller coaster ride. Oh I’m not upset or fearful, far from it. I’m thankful for making a good decision, being treated by highly qualified and compassionate people, feeling the thoughts and prayers of so many, and being able to reach over and pet my companion.
Please share this post in many places. I make that request hoping that maybe someone will make a similar good choice. Don’t delay investigating when things “just don’t seem right”. I didn’t and I’m glad.
And as always…
“Get out, Be safe and Go adventure”