So, I ended up at the hospital again late last Saturday night after I started feeling pretty bad. My heart was racing and my chest was hurting, I was having problems breathing and my blood pressure was sky high; it was 156/109 when I checked it the first time, and even higher by the time I reached the hospital.
Now, I was rather familiar with those symptoms, as they are the exact same ones that landed me in the hospital in April 2009. They are, in fact, some of the symptoms of a heart attack. I was also aware that those symptoms could be brought on by digestive issues like severe acid reflux, because that’s what caused the problems I had last April. So, I knew I was either having a heart attack or another reflux attack. More importantly, though, I knew that there was no way to tell the difference between the two without medical tests. And given that I have congestive heart failure anyway, I couldn’t leave anything to chance. So, I did the smart thing, and went to the emergency room.
Upon arriving and telling the desk nurse what was going on, I was immediately wheeled to a room in the ER where they attached a blood pressure cuff to my arm, listened to my heart, did an EKG, and drew blood for enzyme tests that determine whether a heart attack has occurred. They also brought in a portable x-ray machine and took an picture of my chest.
In the time it took for the results of all the tests to come back, a nitroglycerin patch was placed on my chest to help bring my blood pressure down, and I saw the physician’s assistant and the ER doctor. After a brief chat, the doctor went to call my cardiologist, and he in turn admitted me to the hospital, and said he’d see me the following afternoon.
In the back of my mind, I knew exactly what the cardiologist was going to say. He’d want to do a heart catheterization to get a better idea as to what was going on with my heart. And I was right about that. While I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea, I knew that it had to be done, so I might as well go along with it. So they took me down for the procedure around 5:00 p.m. Monday.
Honestly, the procedure itself wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was awake through the whole thing, although they did give me a sedative to help me relax. The worst part of the ordeal was recovery time after the heart cath was finished. I was so stiff and sore after laying on my back for 6 hours it was not funny. I’ve never enjoyed walking the halls of a hospital as much as I did when they finally let me get up either. And as bad as that was, I’d have to say that the good news I got as a result of the procedure was more than worth it.
All of my coronary arteries looked good; there were no blockages whatsoever. In fact, the doctor said things looked so good that I could stop taking the Plavix he’s had me on. And the other bit of good news is that my heart has gotten stronger; it’s now pumping at 50%, which is what my doctor says is a normal level and the minimum that he wants to see. AWEsome!
So, it turns out that it was yet another severe acid reflux attack that led me to the hospital. And while that bothers me, the fact of the matter is that things could have gotten a lot worse if I hadn’t gone to the hospital. With the reflux driving my blood pressure higher and higher, I could have very easily had a heart attack or stroke, and, well, you wouldn’t be reading this post.
Like the title says, Better Safe Than Sorry!
PS: Many thanks to all of those in the DOC who expressed their concerns, prayers, and well wishes last week. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, and how much it helped get me through. Lots of love everyone!