Up to this point, my circumflex artery, which was discovered blocked during my first heart attack in 2014, had not been cleared in any way. All attempts to work on it resulted in either an unstable condition requiring stopping the attempt or worse, a near death experience! I can assure you that you never want the latter, as the recovery is not pleasant. It had not given me any real problem, so I had thought little of it. However, a few days after getting back from a short trip to New Jersey, I started having chest pains during my morning walks. Since they would lessen if I stopped walking, I knew they were heart related! Since I already had a follow up visit with my cardiologist set up, I figured it would be ok to wait the few extra days until that appointment to tell him. Meanwhile, I continued to walk when I could. The day before my appointment, I had gone to breakfast with my wife at a place about 2 miles from my house. Since she had an appointment for an interview, I told her I would walk home. Almost a tragic mistake! 5 times along that walk, I had some rather severe chest pains, that required me to stop in the shade ASAP. These pains did not make me out of breath and did not radiate down my arms, so I did not tell my wife how bad they were at that time. I didn’t want to go back to the place I had been in the month before, and my cardiologist visit was the next day.
When we got to the cardiologist, I was given the standard EKG and he looked at that before he came in. He had a concerned look on his face, which got even more so when I told him about my problem. My wife tried to interject with cause you were out of breath and I immediately said no I was never out of breath, my chest felt too sore to continue. As we had already planned for a trip in November and had to finalize those plans by August 7th, I asked what his advice was. He said he would let me know later, but there was no way I’d be able to travel in the condition I was in.
I was given a Nuclear Stress Test, and during the test, my symptoms manifested themselves very clearly. When I saw my cardiologist to go over those results, His face was looking quite grim. I was told that my options were either a very risky operation that involved 2 doctors working in tandem from the groin and wrist or both sides of the groin sending the catheters into the blocked Circumflex from both sides of the blockage, or to wait until I had a sufficiently bad day to warrant opening the chest and doing a full bypass. The first option would enable me to find out if I could go before my trip was finalized, the second would require cancellation of the trip.
I had to find out what the contingency was if the first option failed. I would have to have an artificial heart inserted to assist mine until a donor could be found. I asked how many of these operations have been done, very few as that kind of obstruction is rarely seen. He then assured me that the other cardiologist he would be working with had worked with him before and He was reasonably sure I would pull through with little to no complications, as I still was remaining more active than most of the people that need heart catheterization. I told him to make the plans and I was ready for whatever was needed. I had no intention of trying to wait out this problem.
August 2, I entered the hospital at 05:30 in preparation for the high risk procedure. The nurses set up the IV and prepared the sites for the doctors. About 07:30 I was wheeled into the OR and transferred to the operating table. As this was a high risk procedure, I was knocked out and didn’t get to see it. I am glad for that. Catheters were inserted into the Femoral and Radial Arteries and moved into position around my heart. When I awakened, I saw the face of an angel, nurse, smiling at me. She said the procedure went well and the doctor would fill me in a bit later.
About 11:00 the doctor stopped by and said the procedure had been a bit easier than originally planned, and that 2 stents had been placed to keep the artery clear. BTW, I was also cleared to travel. I thought he was talking about the trip we had planned, but instead he said he was sending me home around 13:30.
I had just had major blockages in a heart artery cleared and was cleared to walk out of the hospital only a few hours later. WOW! I found out from my wife that the doctor had cleared our vacation plans when he talked to her. So I guess he really did mean for me to get my ass out of bed and start moving and to enjoy the new lease on life I now had!
On August 8, I had my follow up visit. It was the shortest visit with my cardiologist I have ever had. I went in feeling fantastic and he was all smiles at that. My EKG looked closer to normal than it has ever looked in the past 5 years. I have further check ups scheduled several months away, but I can go where ever I desire.
Now I have some trips to plan! So please excuse me while I get to work on them.