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Old 06-24-2012, 05:01 PM   #1
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It didn't FEEL like a heart attack!

But it was...Jun 11 I had a heart attack. 100% blockage of left anterior descending. (big vein on left side). Dr called it "The Widow Maker". They were able to clear it and put in a stent. This makes me nothing special. Lots of folks have survived heart attacks. But here is what I wanted to do. I want to let you know what it felt like so you can avoid it. I want to let you know that I first felt it over a week earlier. Clearing brush out of the back yard. It felt like severe gas, I kept trying to burp to make it feel better, and it did. It came back daily, after exertion, and it began to be accompainied by sweats, and it was hard to breathe. But if I sat down, it went away...
1) I blamed it on gas. Wrong
2) My CPAP machine was being repaired so I blamed it on that. Wrong
I had a week long heart attack! Stupid!
On the 11th, it was everything you read, severe crushing chest pain, numbness in my fingers, sweating, shoulders hurt, jaw hurt, could not take deep breaths, nausea...I was extremely lucky. Please dear Airstream friends, do not wait till you have been having one for a week like me. Please do not look for every excuse EXCEPT a heart attack.

There is more, lots more. Much of it is pyschological, Watching my wifes face as I was rolled away from her, wondering if it was going to be my last time... Realizing I survived, but finally comprehending how close it was. Missing work, cardiac rehab, cancelling work I had scheduled on the Airstream because now I don't know if I can pay for it.

I made it. Please listen when your body tries to warn you. It really does try.
I can't wait to get back in the Airstream. But slow down, the Dr's say, take it really, really slow...So I wait, I walk, I recover. Don't make this mistake.
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Old 06-24-2012, 05:07 PM   #2
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WOW!!!! Glad to hear that you are on the road to recovery. That is really a scary story to hear. Take it easy for now and listen to your Dr!
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:27 PM   #3
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You have been 'Blessed" with a second chance. Listen to your Dr. AND listen to your wife.
They are both trying to keep you around for awhile.
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:27 PM   #4
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Do everything your Drs. tell you to do! 10 years ago at the age of 48 I had 2 within 100 days of each other. The first was similar to yours-uncomfortable feeling between shoulder blades, minor nausea, sweats. Was a smoker at the time, and drove myself to the hospital smoking as I went. Doc put the stent in, I quit smoking and with what I was spending on smokes I made the payments on a Chevy Dually crew cab. Yes, it was that much! I told my doc that if he would fix me I would help him see that I stayed fixed. The next one came 100 days later, I was home by myself, Roseann out garage saleing. Long story short-when they put the first stent in, they tore my artery just a bit to create a flap that collected the platelets and formed a clot. Total blockage this time- Classic symptoms, pain in arm, heaviness in chest, can't take a full breath, etc. Back to hospita by EMS, and another stent is put in to repair the tear. Life is good, after 10 years of maintenance and monitoring by my cardioligist he is starting to ease up on some of my meds. Will I ever be off them-no- I have heart disease and will the rest of my life. But, I try to help my doc as much as I am able to keep me in his "win" column.

Patience, Chuck, don't be in such a hurry to join stressful America again. Take time to heal, in my case it was about 6-8 weeks before I could do physical things-because the stent has to grow into the artery. Don't let crap boyher you as it did before. I had to learn that one. And, the best advise I got from my dog: If you can't screw it or eat it, piss on it and walk away. He is 12 years old which is about 84 in human years so I guess it has some merit. Take care buddy, get well, I miss camping with ya. You need help with that trailer, just ask I could come down on a weekend(Roseann would love it!!) and do at your direction 'til you are up and runnin'.
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:31 PM   #5
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Glad you are still with us, please STAY. Jim
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:33 PM   #6
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Chuck,

Having worked in cardiothoracic surgery and cath lab last semester before graduating, I can tell you that you are VERY fortunate, and I am VERY glad your symptoms got you to the ER before it was too late. The left anterior descending artery (LAD) is the large vessel off the left main artery of your heart. The "Widow maker" moniker is correct since this artery supplies so much of the left side of your heart muscle with blood to keep it alive. If the heart muscle dies, it cannot pump blood. It may be that your left heart had considerable collateral circulation (growth of additional arteries to help perfuse it). This can happen over a period of time when the body registers the heart not getting perfused enough, and would lessen symptoms. If this is the case, it really helped a lot in keeping you alive.

We wish you all the best.

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Old 06-24-2012, 06:39 PM   #7
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It didn't FEEL like a heart attack!

Greetings Chuck!

Good to hear that your outcome was good!

I too experienced a heart attack, but I still can't say precisely when it happened. Mine was not a severe as yours, but I learned while hospitalized in January for another issue that sometime in the past seven to ten years that I had experienced a heart attack as revealed by an EKG when I was having some routine testing done while in the hospital.

Throughout my life, I have experienced varying degrees of altitude sickness and my doctor agreed with me that one of those episodes was likely the heart attack rather than altitude sickeness. I love traveling throughout the Rocky Mountains and until the last four years, I made nearly annual trips to the Rocky Mountains with my favorite destinations including Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Glacier National Park.

I was 52 when I learned about my earlier heart attack and may not have learned about it then had I not had a health crisis in December. I lost 150 pounds during 2011, and while at a doctor's appointment, my blood pressure bottomed out at 50 over 35 . . . needless to say, I was rushed to the emergency room where it was learned that I had been over-medicated with high blood pressure medication and diuretics. Since that time, I have been taken off of all high blood pressure medication and my diruetic dosage was reduced by 75% . . . my blood pressue is now on the low side of normal after being very high for 25 years. My tests in January were a follow-up to the hospitalization for dangerously low blood pressure.

I wasn't particularly shocked to learn that my experience wasn't all that uncommon. I had never been hospitalized as an adult until December of last year (at 52 years of age), and as long-time patient with cluster migraines, my threshold for pain was somewhat elevated . . . not to mention my distrust of doctors and hospitals after having been a victim of malpractice by a surgeon when I was seven years old.

I am still waiting for my appointment with a Cardiologist to learn more about his theories regading when and where my hear attack may have happened . . . and whether I should be concerned about another more severe heart attack in my future.

Kevin
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:42 PM   #8
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Chuck,

So glad you are doing well, and thank you so much for sharing the info. So often we try to "tough it out" when we shouldn't. So much can be done now to extend life, if we just listen to our bodies. I hope your post catches someone's attention and maybe saves a life!

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Old 06-24-2012, 06:49 PM   #9
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Chuck,

We'e so happy to hear you made it, and you're doing better. Keep doing what the doc says.

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Old 06-24-2012, 06:59 PM   #10
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Chuck, thanks so very much for sharing!!!! I just sat here and read your thread out loud to my husband who always tries to tough everything out. He would be exactly like you---"just tough it out" is his motto.

I am so glad you are okay and looking forward to many more rallies with you and Skye.

Do what they tell you and we'll be seeing you on the road.

Glad it turned out like it did.

take care,

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Old 06-24-2012, 07:18 PM   #11
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Don't you know it's just too darned hot to be clearing brush in a South Texas summer, Chuck?

Was recently thinking of you, and glad to know that you're receiving proper care. Don't hesitate to learn all you can about meds and procedures. I use MEDSCAPE these days. Take the time to learn the definitions of words (is the advice I give others) and these tech articles can take one to new places, unexpected, that give insight to being patient.

Let me know when you're ready to hit the CAT Scale over in Robstown with that rig . . an asphalt truck parking lot is the manly way to be felled by heart trouble on a hot day.



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Old 06-24-2012, 07:29 PM   #12
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Chuck you have received a blessing and second chance at life. At 55 I found myself in the same circumstances as you. 95% blockage LAD. As is common among us men...I dismissed some of the symptoms until I knew something serious was happening. As others have suggested, follow your doctors orders and accept that fact that you will live another day...to go camping in your Airstream.

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Old 06-24-2012, 08:00 PM   #13
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Glad you are on you way to recovery, and Rednax is right.... leave the brush until the dead of winter when its down in the 60s down there.

Best
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Old 06-24-2012, 08:06 PM   #14
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Don't Be Stupid Like Me

Bruce,Roseann,
Thanks guys. Patience is so hard. But I do understand I think. 2 attacks is way too many my friend. Take care and say hi to that dog for me. I like him!

Steve,
Dr said the same thing. The heart had been compensating for a lifetime problem. Probably what kept me alive was extra veins that the body built to compensate. Pretty amazing machines we are!

Ken,
I think the reason I posted was for some self healing and also so others will not be as Stupid as I was. Cause I was pretty stupid!

Kevin,
Now you have me thinking. I used to always get altitude sickness when in the Sierras backpacking. Started jogging to see if it would help increase lung capacity. Still got altitude sickness, so the heck with that jogging stuff! (-: But maybe, the body was talking to me way back then...Hope you get into the cardiologist soon. I see mine on Thursday.

Jim,
Thanks. Sure hope others are smarter than I was. I mean hey, we are smart enough to buy an Airstream, we should be smart enough to call a Dr and have our hearts checked!

KDS
Read it to him again. In this case...tuffin it out just does not work. Ambulance rides are not fun. Having them stuff aspirin in your mouth, spraying nitro in your mouth and hokking up IV's in a moving vehicle just starts the adventure. It gets much worse. Read it to him again.

Steve,
Thanks. Funny thing is I have not seen a DR since I was discharged. (see a couple next week) Unreal. Excellent emergency response but the follow on has been kind of weak.

Bob,
Unreal right. Why do we try to be so manly? I had an "after shock" on this past Monday. Very minor, lasted about 1 or 2 minutes. But it was the same pain, just less of it. Nurse asked if I took any nitro and I said no, I thought it was for an emergency. She said "How much pain do you need to be in for it to be an emergency?" And then explained how the nitro works and what it is for. Lots of learning to do here!

Ross,
Good to hear from you. Yep Patient is a word I need to investigate a bit. Tech manuals make me dizzy but I o find myself much more interested in self learning now. Bay Area was awesome by the way.

Everyone,
"Don't be Stupid like me!" And what th heck are these hot flashes I get now? Dang...
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