On the afternoon of March 14th, following some busy days and nights, I got home and felt like my chest was frozen. After sitting around and letting everything reset, I felt better, but that’s not a far walk from what I had been feeling. I told myself “don’t mess around here, man, this isn’t funny, this isn’t acid reflux.”
I walked around my yard for about 5minutes, and again felt frozen between my shoulders. I had never felt anything like it, and it freaked me out. It was painful, but not like a sore muscle. I wasn’t sweating, nor feeling a looming sense of unmitigated despair any more than usual. So my wife drove me to the ER. I walked in and told the folks there what was going on, and with eyes widened the way you’d widen your eyes if somebody had a harpoon in their ear and asked if it “looked bad” but you didn’t want them to panic, they told me to sit down and do some tests. My blood pressure was up, oxygen was OK, and I went to a room for observation.
An EKG showed no signs of a heart attack. A blood test found no evidence of a heart attack. I was admitted a few hours later with the aim of being kept overnight for an angiogram. It’s that procedure where a doctor snakes a thin tube into your artery (they went in through my wrist but shaved an area peri-groinal just in case… they needed even more power over the situation), to your heart, and you watch the entire thing on an X-Ray monitor while iodine is injected in a the artery, showing any areas of narrowing or damage. I was kinda high when they did it, after they had injected me with a light sedative, which calmed me down after I had spent a good half hour crying in my hospital room. They should grow a hybrid of Sativa, Indica, and Sense of Mortality. Really burns off the white noise.
So as I’m lying on the table, the doctor comes in and tells me this is his 4th procedure of the morning. I’m a little worried because it’s coming up on lunch time and, that usually leads to rushed or sloppy work. But the staff threw the X-ray over me and we watched my heart thumping away. I couldn’t really see anything of a blockage as they had yet to inject the iodine. I didn’t feel anything more than a poke at my wrist when they made the insertion. I just lay there with very little to think about other than my life, and my family, and my future with my family.
A minute or maybe 5 later, it was show-time. The doctor injected the iodine, enough to darken the artery we suspected was having an issue. It showed up like a black worm on the screen, wriggling beneath the right atrium as blood was struggling to get through. And there it was…
My right coronary artery, had a 1.5mm area that was 70-80% narrowed/blocked/too small. 1.5mm. That’s miniscule. In the universe it doesn’t register as a blip of a blip’s blip. But it can cause huge issues. It can kill you. Is that how I wanted to go? After being run over by a Harley 20 years ago, narrowly avoiding 100’s of car accidents, almost flipping a car on 520, but I get taken out by 1.5mm of blocked artery…
A moment later the doctor said, “OK, there it is, that skinny part in the middle is the problem. Let’s get that back open here.” A stent was placed, and I could see the vessels and branches into the ventricles all grow darker, as well. They were finally getting far more blood than they had in quite a while. I was up and walking around my hospital room that night, and went home the next day, happy to go pick up my boys after school.
The staff said “Wow, you’re smart for coming in when you did. Too many guys try and walk it off.” Being proactive AND correct is very rare for me. I was even more grateful for listening to myself, and even in the face of some strong agnosticism, I fully believe that I have angels (for lack of a better term) that whisper to me.
Since this happened, I’ve felt far better than I have in about a year, and probably 3. Of COURSE I feel better – my heart’s working much more closely to “Normal”, ya big goose! If you think something’s wrong, if you have consistently high blood pressure, please go get things checked out. You can save yourself a lot of trouble, and maybe even a lot of life.