There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark



Friday, June 18, 2010

The evolution of a heart attack, by rosemary

Pay attention; this is important. It is a long post, but I hope just one person will read it through and realize they need to see a doctor.

In the beginning about 15 years ago it was high blood pressure. Then high cholesterol followed with triglycerides so far off the charts other lab values couldn't be read. A diet was followed and over the counter red yeast rice and niacin were added hoping to avoid those dreaded statin drugs. Lots of food label reading was done.

I felt good, was active and the cholesterol and triglycerides slowly went down.

Eventually.....I fell off the wagon and started eating things like pizza when I didn't feel like cooking. I could eat fettuccine and garlic bread three times a day.....I didn't but I could.

The first weird feeling happened in January or February; I didn't pay much attention. It was a weakness that ran across my chest to my shoulders and made my arms feel weak....it went away in a few seconds. No big deal. It happened several times after that but I didn't get nervous about it until I was in of all places....WallieWorld!!!  I had to sign their electronic check gadget and there it was...the feeling. I couldn't hold the pen and when I finally wrote my name it looked like a squiggle. So, I started keeping track of the weird feelings.....May 13th, May 19th and the next day too. I was going to make an appointment to see the doctor; really, I was.

Tuesday we decided to go to PetSmart with the three dogs. Wesley needs a harness and Mimi needs canned food. We left at 1. Right before I went downstairs I had "indigestion." I took a big drink of sprizzly water...felt a bit better. By the time we were about 20 miles out of town the indigestion got worse. It was in my right breast and went through to my back. I thought my gallbladder was spasmodic and pissed off. But, I couldn't take a deep breath, I was coughing, the indigestion was horrible, I was sweating and antsy in the truck seat. About half way to the store I told Steve to pull into the 66-Conoco station. I wanted a root beer. Yup, that would fix this icky feeling. As soon as I stepped out of the truck I knew something was really wrong. I went into the mini-mart, got the soda and by the time I got back to the truck it felt like the proverbial elephant was sitting on my chest with a ton of bricks added.

I have never, ever felt pain like that; never been so afraid and Steve was in freak-out mode. Did anyone come over to see what was wrong? I was screaming that something bad was happening, Steve was trying to hold me up and dial 911 at the same time. No one came over or asked if we needed help.

The ambulance arrived in just a few minutes and I was hauled onto the gurney and whisked away. I couldn't breathe, I wanted to throw up, I was miserable. Half way to Kootenai Medical Center the ambulance stopped. I thought I was dying and they were just not going to take me the rest of the way. What they did was meet a Medi-Vac bus and the medic got into my ambulance and we were off again. I was given 4 aspirin to chew, NTG was sprayed under my tongue three times, I was stuck for IV's and given morphine. Nothing helped.

After I got into the ER I was pumped full of morphine without relief, met with the cardiac surgeon, had my clothes cut off, had a chest x-ray and was taken to the cath lab. I had my hoo-haa shaved, was wiped down with a cold blue liquid and given a push of Versed. Finally I was happy (yup, that Versed is happy juice alright) and didn't care that I was in the middle of what would be called a "moderate insult to your heart with moderate damage."

It was actually cool to watch the monitor as the dye was injected and the balloon inflated; two stents were placed. I didn't get to see that.

I spent one absolutely miserable night in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit with my cut off clothes under me, four blankets piled on my feet, a phone in the bed, various wrappers, needle sheaths and a tourniquet under my arm. I was not allowed to move, had to keep my right leg flat and straight and was told my incessant (my word) crying would put stress on the cath injection site.....so would coughing, sneezing, laughing (not much of that going on) and pretty much everything else but breathing. The man in the next room was confused and kept pushing his bedside table away from his bed into the wall. He actually managed to get it out the door and it hit a Pixis unit. The nurses kept putting it right back next to his bed.

I was transferred to the Progressive Cardiac Unit Wednesday morning. I arrived with a blood clot at that damn cath site and had to have pressure on it for hours and the flat crap was enforced once again.

Eventually I was able to get out of bed, eat what turned out to be pretty decent food and walk the halls to be sure my heart could handle the load with activity. I was discharged today.

It has been a miserable time. Here is what this event has left me with:

Anxiety about every little twinge I feel.
Fear of dying in horrible pain.
Never seeing Steve, my kids or grand kids again.
I still have a vessel that is 70% blocked....the doc is going to "watch" it for now and possibly do another cath in a month or so.
An appreciation for the little things; walking the dogs, seeing the ferns in the forest, being able to look out my bedroom window at 2AM and see trees, talk to my family on the phone, touch Steve when he is asleep.
Stupid and embarrassed that I was a nurse and absolutely knew better.
Food is not everything.
I am on those damn statin drugs after-all...plus prescription strength Niacin, more heart and blood pressure meds, potassium and big script bills.
My heart is fucked up and I could have prevented it by being an adult.
Luckily I never smoked and I don't drink or do drugs.
I can still sit at my computer and write a blog post.

Pay attention. It could happen to you.

Thank you to all of you that left comments.  I love you and getting those comments on my cheesy, POS phone made my days so much better...you have no idea.

28 comments:

FoxyMoron said...

My God Rosemary how frightening for you and for Steve. And what is the world coming to that no one came to help.
This is a very important post, thank you for describing the symptoms so clearly so that all of us know what they are and how they feel.
I hope you continue to recover and I send healing thoughts your way.

Mom said...

OK, you've convinced me to stop eating so much junk and watch what goes into my mouth. Your post is scary informative. Being a nurse does not always make us do what we ought to do.
I am so grateful that you are OK and I can look forward to more posts from you.
Don't scare yourself or us like that again.
Each day is a blessing. Enjoy each precious one.

kenju said...

Frightening, indeed, Rosemary. I am so glad to know that you are back home and I hope that you will take care of yourself from now on. Mr. kenju needs to read this post, and I am sure there are many others who do also. I don't follow the greatest diet either. I will be sure to respond to the indications you have explained here!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

My goodness, you've been thru quite an ordeal. I'm glad you got treatment so fast and are home. Great advice, too! {{{Hugs}}}

jp said...

That was probably difficult to share with us, especially so soon, but thank you for doing so.

SO glad Steve was with you when it happened.

You're home now. Relax and enjoy the animals. And tell the kittens to stop calling me, because the whining is just too much.

Shammickite said...

I am amazed that you can sit in front of your computer and type all that stuff so soon after being in such a terrifying medical crisis. I'm sending you all the good vibes that I can muster up, expecially those heart healing ones. I think we all eat the wrong things, we all have that "It'll never happen to me" attutude, we never look after ourselves with as much care and attention that we should. Get well very soon Rosemary.

Random Thinker said...

Oh, Rosemary, I love you. I am so glad you survived. Sorry that you are scared. Hopeful that tomorrow will make you stronger. Glad that you posted.

Joan said...

OMG Rosemary...I've been away from BlogLand for a while and I come back to read about your ordeal. I am so relieved to know that you are OK. And thank you so much for sharing your story...hopefully all of us you have read it will be a little bit wiser when it comes to our health and wellbeing.

madretz said...

you are one of the bravest and selfless women i know rosemary. to be able to go through that harrowing, painful experience and recount the details so acutely so soon afterwards truly speaks volumes of how much you care for all of us and how passionately you wear your heart on your sleeve. i, we all need that passionate heart of yours to keep ticking. it was easy to fall in love with you, we need you. and i know you need us, too so thank you so much for the good advice. I'm definitely paying more attention. hugs and kisses from both of us. Jimmy was just asking about you at dinner which prompted me to check here. hugs to dear Steve, too.

CailinMarie said...

Hello Rosemary. I hopped over from FoxyMoron's blog. I am so glad you have survived this ordeal! I've heard from a friend who was a runner, and young, and a heart attack survivor that it happens so fast! I am grateful you have shared this with us so that we can indeed pay attention.
Best Wishes,
CailinMarie

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

I am going to kick your ass. Don't you know how scared we were.? I was freaking all over the place. tried to call and you guys dont have a land phone i guess as the one number they gave me was disconnected..i put a message up on my blog and said you were in hospital and to pray for you. I lit so many candles at st. mary's they had to get more fire insurance.
take care of yourself..dont make me come up there and bip you..
i love you

CRAIG and DIANE said...

A great big sigh of relief that you are on the mend. Thank goodness Steve was with you, in panic mode or not, and that you got treatment quickly. Take care of yourself Rosemary, we need you more than you know!

Name: female, I shit you not! said...

Read every word twice.
Thank you Rosemary for spreading the word.
Now I am going to read this to my hubby.
Take care.

Sling said...

Holy crap Rosemary!!..That's it..No more neglecting to check up on my blogpals for days at a time.
..I am SO glad you came through your ordeal.
Thank you for the rundown on the symptoms.I'm going to be especially aware in the future.

kenju said...

Just checking in, Rosemary, and I hope you are resting well today and feeling better.

Cazzie!!! said...

That is it! I Am going for a check up tomorrow morning.
Rosemary, you know I am a nurse too and I worked one of my nights on the Cath Lab last week. I ought to know better too. It is in my family. I am overweight for my height, and although I feel fit because I do exercise I know I ought to get myself checked up on cardiac wise. Both my grandad's and grandma's have had cardiac history..so.... I am off in the morning once the kids are at school.
ThankYOU! Huggs huggs huggs your way

Jennie said...

AHHH! I'm sorry I haven't been paying attention!!! I'm so glad you are okay and so sorry you had to go through that. Sounds so frightening. You and your dear heart will be in my prayers for an excellent recovery.

Jennie said...

ps I have a bs in nutrition and have eaten nothing but popsicles and brie and bread all day. You're human, not perfect...but you're inspiring me.

Miss Healthypants said...

Oh Rosemary!!!! I was out of town for a week and just read your posts--I'm so sorry to hear about this! I know it was terribly scary when my Dad had a heart attack, too. He's a tough guy, but even he was freaked out. (Who wouldn't be?)

Thank you for the reminder to eat healthy, too--I had already decided to start eating healthier & exercising more this week, but this helps convince me even more of it.

Now TAKE CARE of yourself and also remember to be easy on yourself. You've been through a traumatic event, and it will take a while for you to heal not just physically, but emotionally, too.

I'm so sorry this happened to such a kind woman as you...you will definitely be in my prayers!!

Cazzie!!! said...

Rosemary...pssst, Rosemary... I went for my check up. I fasted until I had my bloods taken (as I knew I ought to). I had LFT's U&E's, Fasting Lipids and Fasting Glucose testing. I await the results :) ThankYOU Rosemary. It was time to do it..as I turn 40 next year.....

Middle Child said...

Rosemary you are just not alowed to go anywhere okay - I have had my heart checked regularly since Don died as I felt awful a few times - so far okay - low cholesterol strangely but my mother died from Cardiomyopathy caused they thought from the Pneumonia virus - I was in bed next to her with that same virus - so I watch it.

I am so pleased you survived - it could so easily have been other. Steve must be over the moon that you are back home and your kids...

Take care sheatherat and I will put in a special wish for you with the angels..and my own one.

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

hope you are doing better...miss you and thinking of you often..still lighting candles and sending up prayers for you

Shammickite said...

How are you feeling now, Rosie?

Name: female, not even with a capital F. I shit you not! said...

You keep on resting Rosemary.
Meanwhile we all will wait until you are up to par.
Your family needs you.
Your readers are secondary.
Just wanted to let you know that thoughts & prayers abound from all of us in the background. :0)

dogsmom said...

Hope you are improving every day.
I am another of those people you are helping. I had my bloodwork done on Friday along with several chest X-rays. I'll be scheduling an angio as soon as I can arrange for a pet sitter. I fear stents are in my future. Thank you for the description.

Mom said...

I am still praying and sending all sorts of good energy your way. Hope you are getting better. I miss you.

more cowbell said...

Oh holy hell Rosemary. I truly have been away too long from blogland. I am so ecstatically happy that you were OK.

I started getting my weight/health back on track a few months and 37 pounds ago ... I'm not any meds and have low bp/cholesterol, but your post has convinced me to get my overdue stirrups-n-boobcrusher appointment done. Now not later.

I'm so thankful you're OK and that you were with Steve. Hugs.

Brad maddox said...
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