Sunday, February 12, 2012

T-8 - The day of my heart attack

T-8. The verbiage of astronauts and missile launches. And in this case, someone about to have bypass surgery. Why astronaut/missile launch lingo? Because it's easy to count down and up using that lingo. Normally it's "T Minus" that is used by most people but I remember NASA using the "T Plus" as well. Only I will be using days instead of minutes, such as T minus 1 "day". And what is T minus Zero? The day of my surgery.

January 29th, 2012 was my T-8 day. It was evening but I'm not sure what time exactly. I was playing Lord of the Rings Online as I do on many nights. Gaming has been one of my hobbies for years. The problem solving, puzzles, strategy, etc. of gaming keeps my mind thinking.

So there I was, doing something in-game, when my upper arms started hurting. I told the paramedics when they arrived that it was like lifting weights for a long time but my Brother-In-Law Randy Stout had a better comparison. It's like having your arms in blood pressure cups that are too tight and don't loosen.

I also started to sweat. Not a heavy sweat but not a 'perspire' either. Something wasn't quite right. I thought I was coming down with something. I got up from the computer and headed back to the bedroom, stopping at the bathroom on the way.

Lisa, my wife, must have seen me from the living room where she and Kristin were watching something because she was soon asking me if I was okay and what was going on. I told her I didn't feel good and was going to lie down for a bit. I just felt "off".

Fortunately for me I have two very smart women in my life who jumped on the internet and realized that what I needed wasn't to lie down for a bit but to go to the hospital. I vaguely remember my wife talking on the phone to someone. I realize now that it had to be the hospital.

Lisa came back to the bedroom and said "We're taking you to the hospital". I, being the big lug that I can be sometimes, thought she was driving me there. Out of bed I got to go get my coat. About that time the ambulance arrived and Lisa explained she wasn't driving me but I was going in the ambulance.

I was in the ambulance for a while, answering questions the paramedic asked, having my vitals checked, and being monitored. The paramedic asked me if I had ever had Nitroglycerin. I told her no, I hadn't. Perhaps if I had I might have known what was going on. She explained that it would open my arteries and veins so the blood could flow better.

Once we arrived at the hospital, they wheeled me into the ER and took my vitals again. Everything looked good except for my EKG. It was a little bit off. At some point they decided they needed to keep me overnight at the Parkview Heart Institute to perform a heart catheterization on Monday. So I said night to Lisa and they wheeled me over to the PVHI. I was on several drugs to make my blood cells slippery and to keep the arteries/veins open big. Essentially to keep the blood flowing. I slept rather well, all things considered. The drugs were doing what they needed to do to, the staff at the Heart Institute were checking on me frequently, and I was monitored and cared for throughout the night.

Tomorrow's post will pick up with my journey to the cath lab.

Just a footnote: I will be combining several of the days before and after my surgery into one or two blog posts since there wasn't a whole lot happening on each specific day that I can remember. Those days immediately before and after are a bit of a blur so it's easier to just combine them, hitting the highlights.

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