It was Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
It was a pretty normal Tuesday, just like any other really, I had just scarfed down Chipotle during our weekly sales meeting… but I didn’t feel very good. Luckily we had a couch in the office and I thought maybe if I layed down for awhile I’d feel better.
Didn’t seem to be getting any better, maybe I should head home. I packed up my stuff, got in my car and started to head out of Ames. Then it really hit me…
That slight pressure across my shoulders was now a lot of pressure and I broke into a full body sweat… like wet hair and everything.
Something wasn’t right.
I turned around and drove myself to the Mary Greeley Emergency Center. It was quiet in there, just a few people in the waiting room. I walked up to the desk, insurance card in hand and told the nice lady… “I have this pressure…” and gestured toward my chest & shoulders…next thing I know they’ve whisked me away in a wheel chair, down the hall and into an exam room.
A very nice, Doogie Howserish doctor and his nurse hooked me up to every imaginable monitor & testing apparatus, they fed me Nitro, gallons of blood were drawn (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration) and fifty million questions were asked, but after about an hour and a half… they couldn’t really find anything wrong with me other than a high blood pressure reading.
By then Cory was in the ER exam room with me and the Dr was going over what they did and didn’t know. He highly suggested I stay the night in the hospital, they’d keep me on the monitors and do a stress test in the morning. Although I wasn’t very happy (I had plenty of things to do & I’d decided I was fine) I agreed and we were checked into a room.
Somewhere around 8:30pm I was sitting in my hospital bed, Cory and I were talking and I said to him, “That feeling is kinda coming back,” and all of a sudden my hospital room was full of Drs and nurses, buzzers were going off and everything goes really fast from there!
I’ll spare you all of the details of the next few hours, a couple funny stories and jump right to the part where… I had a heart attack.
Yep. 41 years old. By most standards healthy. I was a couple pounds overweight but not much, worked out 2-3 times a week and had never smoked… but I was having a heart attack.
Fast forward to me waking up in a different hospital room around 3am with Cory and my sister in law, Megan watching over me. I immediately started tugging at this tight plastic thing on my wrist but was told to leave it alone! They quickly explained that I’d had a heart attack and they’d gone in thru my wrist to put a stent in my heart.
I was very lucky. I nearly kept driving home that day. I nearly convinced the Dr to let me go home instead of staying overnight in the hospital. Worse yet, I had to admit that I’d felt that weird pressure across my shoulders before…
The pictures above are before and after my stent was installed. My arteries were blocked… my Left Anterior Descending (often called the widow maker) was 100% blocked (that one got the stent) and 2 others that were 50 and 70% blocked. The Dr also said there was evidence of prior damage to my heart (hence the part where I had to admit I may have had that feeling before…).
All in all, from the time I checked myself in at the ER until they released me was 41 hours! Ah, modern medicine! And I felt amazing. Amazing how much better you feel when your heart is working near 100%!
I’m doing great so far, haven’t had any more problems. I got off most of the medication they sent me home on after about a year although I still take a beta blocker, cholesterol and high blood pressure meds. I cut a LOT of salt out of diet, I eat a little better, still trying to work out 2-3 days a week and see my Dr at Iowa Heart Center twice a year. Good news is I’m coming up on my 5 year anniversary this summer.
Thank you for reading my long story. Since February is American Heart Month I try to re-tell my story in the hopes that it will help someone. Please read up ton he signs of a heart attack, cut back on salt, reduce stress (I’m still working on this one), watch what you eat and exercise. Take care of yourself!
Happy Heart Month!