Most of you know that I recently had a heart attack, so I thought I would share the details of my “experience” with you.
I was eating a late lunch on Friday – a healthy mixed salad – when I suddenly experienced what I thought at first was heartburn. I took a Zantac and drank some water, but the pain got worse, and it spread across my chest, upper back and upper arms.
I realized I was probably having a heart attack, and took two baby aspirins, chewing the second one. I was hoping against hope that it would just go away. No dice. At this point I did two things (probably stupid); I changed into clean clothes, then I vacuumed the living room carpet.
I called my daughter, then called 911, then called my daughter back and talked to her until the ambulance arrived.
I unlocked the front door, opened it, and put the dog in his crate. I also filled the cat’s bowl with dry food. I left the front door unlocked, and my daughter spoke with my neighbor who came to feed Tucker and take him outside regularly until she got there. I also put his leash and food close to his crate.
A policeman was there, along with the ambulance, fairly quickly. The nice policeman escorted me to the ambulance, as I could walk okay.
The EMT’s asked me about my symptoms, when they began, whether I had ever experienced them before (no), took my blood pressure (through the roof; 260/160, I think it was) and an EKG. I was given four baby aspirin to chew, then a nitroglycerin tablet under my tongue. That reduced my pain and blood pressure significantly. They asked me which hospital I wanted, then called to transfer my medical information to the emergency room staff. We left for the hospital, William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI.
When we arrived at the hospital emergency room, we stopped briefly at the front desk. They asked me my name and birth date, verified my address (they had a very old account for me), slapped on a bracelet, and whisked me down the hall to an exam room.
At the exam room more questions were asked, more tests were done (a chest x-ray and an EKG, I think), they whipped off my clothing, and a doctor told me that I needed a heart catheterization. I said that I agreed, they found a cardiologist available in the hospital, I signed a release form, and they took me to the cath lab. All of this took less than a half hour.
The catheterization and angioplasty were done, and two stents were implanted in my right coronary artery. I was awake, but slightly sedated (not much), and the process was painless. The two incisions they made – one in my right arm (it didn’t work), then one in my groin – hurt later, and I have huge bruises now.
I was taken to a Recovery/waiting area for a brief time, and then was picked up by the Cardiac Care staff. Got to my CCU room, had two IV’s started, and was attached to the “machines” that constantly monitored my blood pressure, blood oxygen, EKG, respiration and heart rate. Blood pressure was first taken every five minutes, then at greater intervals – up to an hour. At first, my blood pressure was controlled by nitroglycerin via IV. My nurse and nursing assistant had two patients – me and another woman. The nurses work 12-hour shifts, so I had a different team starting at 7:00 am.
The next day they started experimenting with drugs for blood pressure and heart rate, as well as blood thinners. This, along with adjusting the nitro amount I was getting, went on for a number of hours, even up to Sunday morning (and no more nitro.)
I also received a 2D ECHO (TRANSTHORACIC) W DOPPLER AND CONTRAST – basically an ultrasound for the heart. The really good news (delivered to me by my cardiologist a couple of hours later) is that I have no heart muscle damage, and my heart is basically strong. He does seem to think that my left carotid artery needs further attention, but that we can talk about it at my follow-up exam later this month. My blood results were actually pretty good; most of it was within normal range.
I am impressed by and grateful for the treatment I received from the policeman and EMT’s, and all of the hospital staff. The only thing that was less than optimal was the food, although the method of delivery is better. You call the hospital kitchen and order what you want and you can even ask for a specific delivery time. Being in the CCU, they DO limit what you can order. The best meal that I had was breakfast on Sunday – a fake egg omelet with onions and mushrooms, with a side of hash browns. I also ordered tea – decaf is what I got!
The hospital was thorough, giving me full written instructions about follow-up appointments, medications, and what to expect before I was discharged. I also love the on-line chart feature.
I can’t wait to see the bills.
Only one of my medications is expensive (Brilinta), and I am going to ask to be transferred to Plavix when I see my cardiologist.
I am adjusting to my medications and have had some side effects. The hospital pharmacist happened to call me this morning, and she answered my questions and concerns. Some of the side effects from Brilinta are shortness of breath, headache, dizziness and nausea. The pharmacist said that these should subside over time, but that if they are extreme I should go to the emergency room or critical care. Add in diarrhea to complete the picture, which we think may be related to the lactose used to make pills. I have a strategy for that.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer.