On April 5th (Easter 2015) I decided to go to the urgent care to check out the throat and jaw pain that I’ve been having on and off for over a year. But lately the discomfort had not only been happening when I exert myself by walking or exercising, but also after I ate; and it had been happening more often. So, on this beautify Sunday I made an appointment for later that morning. I watched Joel Osteen, and began to prepare Sunday brunch with the family. I peeled and fried the potatoes, and then I made the batter for the pancakes using my secret ingredients.
I drove myself to urgent care. Remind you, I’m not in pain. The nurse took vitals, weight, blood pressure, an EKG. My blood pressure was normal. The EKG was normal. My oxygen level was normal. Nothing appeared unusual. The doctor came into the room he examined me. I told him that I was having radiating pain in my neck and jaws. He ordered blood work.
Sidebar – one of the main reasons why I chose Kaiser Health plan is because they have their lab on site. I hate referrals, because now I have to get into my care and go to another location and wait in line again. Call me lazy.
Anyway, Easter 2015, I’m sitting in the waiting room after having my blood drawn. The nurse called me to the back. She had this real concerned look on her face. She asked me “how are you feeling?”
I had no pain so I replied, “I feel good.”
She told me I need to lie down on the bed, so they could give me oxygen.
“Oxygen!” I thought. “Why would I need oxygen?” Now, I was getting concerned.
“We need to give you a shot in your belly?” Said the nurse. (Not sure what kind of shot, but I’m sure it’s on my bill) “Do you have family that you can call?”
“Yes, my children.” So, I made the call to my children.
The doctor came into the room and explain to me that my Troponin levels were high, which indicate that I had an issue with my heart. You’re having or had a heart attack. And that I might have heart damage. “What!!!” I thought. “I feel fine”.
An ambulance came and took me to Virginia Hospital Center, nice hospital, great staff. They made me comfortable until I could have the procedure to see what was going on with my heart and why my Troponin levels were so high.
Monday April 6th, I was told by the doctor that they were going to go through a vein in my wrist and shoot dye into it to see what was going on with my heart. He told me that there could be three outcomes. One, no blockage could treat with medication. Two, small blockage and they could insert a stent to open up the blockage. Or three, I would need bypass surgery.
“No way, I could need surgery, because I feel fine.” I thought.
The procedure was interesting, because I wasn’t completely out. I could see the dye in my vein and my heart beating, but it seems like a dream and I felt nothing. (Darn good drugs)
Later that day the cardiology surgeon Dr. Garrett gave me the test results. I had five blocked arteries, so I needed bypass surgery. He asked me did I have any questions. But I couldn’t think of anything. Clearly, I was not fine.
So, on April 7th, 2015, I had bypass surgery. I was rolled in a room where I was prepared for surgery. Two ports were put in the back of each hand. I fell asleep. During the surgery I didn’t see a white light or dead people, so it went well. After the surgery I woke up in the recovery room with tubes coming out of veins in my neck, arms, stomach, and places I rather not mention. I had a tube down my throat. When I opened my eyes I saw my son, daughter, and my daughter’s boyfriend. I made it.
Friday April 10th I was released from the Hospital with a handful of prescription and home care instructions.
I’m on the road to recovery. Sleeping has been difficult, because I need to sleep on my back. But it’s good to be alive and home.
Another experience for my life’s journey
As a writer, I incorporate life experiences into my stories, so don’t be surprise if one of my characters have a heart attack or heart disease. Also, the next story in the series, that I’m currently writing, deals with a powerful pharmaceutical company.
I wrote my story to inform people, especially women, that heart attacks and heart disease can be a silent killer. It’s with the grace of God that I’m still here. I don’t smoke; my blood pressure is in the acceptable ranges. I’m not diabetic. I rarely eat red meat. My cholesterol was a little high, but not to the point when I couldn’t manage it with diet. I think what got me was not eating enough live food, i.e. fruits and veggies, not managing my stress well, and I also have a family history of heart disease.
People, especially ladies, use my story as a cautionary tale. Don’t ignore any pain in the chest, throat or jaw areas. Ladies take care of yourselves, so you can continue to be there for the people who love you.
How do you know when you’re having a heart attack?
In my case I didn’t realize that I was having a heart attack. Signs of a heart attack are usually different for men and women. We are familiar with male heart attack symptoms. Female symptoms are usually different. See below.
Heart attack symptoms for women
According to the Mayo Clinic website. “The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. But it's not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women. And, sometimes, women may have a heart attack without chest pains. Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:”
· Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
· Shortness of breath
· Right arm pain
· Nausea or vomiting
· Lightheadedness or dizziness
· Unusual fatigue
To read more http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease/art-20046167