On a beautiful fall morning in late October 2002, I was planting Iris bulbs along the waterfront of our home in Northern Neck of VA. I felt a bit more tired than I thought I should and noted that I was sweating more than normal so I sat down and lite up a cigarette! Afterwards I got up and started to continue working in the garden but just did not feel right. That little something in your head telling you that something is askew, I decided not to ignore the feeling so I went inside the house and told Jayme that I did not feel right and would lay down for a while but if I did not feel better in the next ten minutes I might need to go to the hospital. Her reply, a good one, was “why wait?” So, we got in the car and she drove me to the local community hospital. She dropped me at the door of the ER and I walked in and told the person at the desk that I thought I might be about to have a heart attack, that got their attention! Before I knew it nurses and a doctor had me on a gurney and wheeled into an examination room, all before my wife came in after parking the car.
Two critical things happened, one was that I was there before the heart attack occurred and was given a Nitro tab under my tong. The next thing I knew I was being hooked up to an EKG machine and an IV was being set up in my arm.
Soon the cardiologist arrived and they determined that I need to get to Richmond to get the necessary treatment as this hospital did not have the ability to do cardiac surgery. An ambulance soon arrived and I was on my way to Richmond, an hour away. My wife was not allowed to ride in the ambulance, she was able to reach a neighbor and they came and drove her to the hospital in Richmond. By the time she was able to get to the hospital, I was already in the operating room.
All I remember was waking up in the recovery room where my wife was finally able to see me. The next morning, I awoke and felt great. As it turned out I had almost complete blockage of my descending right coronary artery and they inserted two “stints”. This is a wire mesh that was expended in my artery to reopen the flow of blood, the procedure is called Angioplasty. It is amazing how quickly I felt better with the flow of blood returned to normal and my body getting the oxygen it needed, the miracle of modern medicine.
Fast forward to 2018, I was having similar “feelings” during the summer but thought that this time it might just be the excessive heat, my age and being overweight that was causing me to be a more tired and sweating more easily.
I called my cardiologist office to make an appointment but they said he could not see me until December! I did not say I was having any problems but wanted to have a checkup. I told the scheduler that I would like to see the doc if an opening occurred. The first week of Oct I got a call that there was a cancelation and saw the doc on a Thursday. After talking with him, it was decided that I should just go into the hospital on the following Tuesday and skip having a stress test. I did so and they found that I had indeed another blocked coronary artery and placed a stint to open it back up.
I am not a physician but wanted to share a few less well-known signs from my experiences that you might be having heart problems that should not be ignored, especially by women who tend to ignore heart related signs more than men. You may not need to be having arm, back or neck or even chest pain to indicate you are having a potential cardiac event.
• More tired than usual or lack of energy
• Indigestion or heartburn not brought on by eating
• Sweating while doing minor tasks or sweating more than your “normal”
• Dizziness when you first stand up after sitting for a period of time
• Body aches and pains that you may attribute to having exercised
• Most importantly, don’t delay seeing your doctor or going to an ER if you are experiencing any symptoms that are not “your normal” feelings of health.