My fun birthday weekend.
Listen to your body.....
On Monday, January 16 I went to my local CrossFit gym. The workout was hard but not exceptionally so and lasted twenty minutes. Nothing I haven’t done before in the 10+ years I’ve been doing similar routines.
After the workout as I drove home, I felt sore in my chest area, and the soreness grew somewhat as I got home. I chalked it off to my recent less-regular gym attendance, thinking it likely was just muscle strain and fatigue. All of the soreness and symptoms dissipated by the next day, though I was more tired than usual for a similar workout. I chalked it off to general fatigue.
Fast-forward to Friday, January 20. Back to my CrossFit gym, and we are just beginning the warmup portion of the day’s workout. Nothing strenuous hadn’t even begun to perspire or breathe hard. Easy-peazy. Immediately, the symptoms I felt Monday begin to come on, sharper and more pronounced and painful. This is not normal and has never happened before. I immediately stop, put away my equipment, and quietly leave class and drive home.
My girlfriend is surprised when I walk in the door – I never leave the gym early. I tell her I don’t feel well and can see the look of fear on her face. She tells me I look pale, chalky. She said “Do not take off your shoes. We are going to the ER.” I said OK. I remind myself that for the last four weeks or so she’s said that I seem tired, and not as energetic as usual. We immediately drive to the hospital.
ER admits me right away and begins an EKG, which they tell me indicates I have not had a heart attack. They also do a blood test for troponin levels (look it up, it is a you-have-had-a-heart-attack indicator) and the initial test is slightly elevated. Not a major concern, but they need to do an additional test to see if the levels go down (good) or up. Mine go up. So they do another EKG, and yet another blood test.
The results aren’t good. The troponin levels are going up to a not-good level and my blood pressure was elevated. They call my girlfriend in and advise her that I need to be transferred to a hospital with a cardiologist. They are trying to find one with availability and also looking to secure transportation as there is limited ambulance availability in our area. Finally, they locate a room but it is not available until the morning. Spent the night in the ER of the local hospital. The nurses on duty check in with me every 15 to 20 minutes, asking if I am in pain. I am closely monitored all night.
The next morning, I am transferred at 8:30, fortunately, my birthday ride is only 20 minutes. I am admitted, and the hospitalist and nurses advise that the cardiologist feels that the best course of action is to perform an angiogram because I had pain upon exertion that went away when the exertion stopped.
So after about three hours, I am taken to the angiogram operating theatre. In a hey-what-a-way-to-spend-your-birthday, they do the prep that I hope you’ve never been through. Blood draws, lots of them….I’ll leave it at that.
Once the prep is done, the cardiologist tells my girlfriend that he will be out in 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
After 2 ½ hours, he comes out to see her. As most of you know, a surgery that runs long is generally not good.
He comes out waving a piece of paper saying, “Maam, that guy got one heck of a birthday present.”
So what happened? I had 95%, 80%, and 75% blockages on the artery on the left side of my heart. The doctor said that had I not come in, death was certain. He complimented me, as ignoring the symptoms is tragically common.
My birthday gift is two stents that I get to keep forever.
I was discharged late morning on January 22.
I am doing fine. No pain or soreness, a little fatigue. Very slight loss of function in one small part of my heart that will almost certainly recover fully. After a few days, I can resume my normal activities including the gym.
Happy Birthday to me.