Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Post Heart Surgery Again

Good Wednesday to everyone!  I once again find myself post heart surgery and feeling much better than I had been feeling.

If you read my post about Dismal Post Heart Attack Care, you know that I was not happy with the care that I received after I left the hospital after my heart attack.  They were fabulous while I was there and saved my life.  It was the after care and I wasn't comfortable not being seen for heart care for another year.  I went for a second opinion two weeks ago because I was having chest pain.  I just had a feeling that it wasn't right.    The doc ordered a nuclear medicine stress test, echocardiogram and a holter monitor.  I had those done a week ago today and kicked some butt on the treadmill during the stress test. They wore out my legs before my heart.  I left the hospital feeling really upbeat that maybe nothing was wrong.

They had told me to expect the results probably today.  They said the docs would need to read them and that the only reason I would hear from them any earlier is if something was really abnormal.  Don't you know that they called me last Thursday morning!  The nurse said that my stress test was abnormal and showed restenosis.  They wanted me in the cath lab on Monday.  She told me they would take a look and do whatever intervention was necessary on Monday.

I was hysterical over this and could not quit crying.  Even though I had chest pain, I had convinced myself that it was nothing.  I didn't want to go through all of this again. I don't want to be this sick--this was all I could think.  I am 43 years old and too young to be this sick. Once I pulled myself together, then I was just mad.  Really pissed!!  I have done all of this work.  I've lost a bunch of weight and I eat a whole grain, plant based diet.  I eat no animal products at all--not one bit of meat or dairy. (Outside of drowning my surgery fears in some ice cream!)  How can I be having these problems?  I am not normally one to wallow in any kind of self pity, but I wallowed in it for three days.

On Monday, I checked into the hospital at 9 am.  They took me to the cath lab and started prepping me with an IV,  fluids and lots of bells and whistles that sound very loudly when something is wrong with your heart.  My 11 am surgery got pushed back because their was an ER emergency in the cath lab. You will never find me complaining about pushing me back because of a cardiac emergency in the ER.  On October 13, 2011 I was that cardiac emergency suffering from a massive heart attack. I just sat and chatted with my husband and my friend Steph. 

They finally took me back about 11:50.  They were all so nice and my experience there was awesome.  Once I was back, the doc made the incision in my femoral artery in the groin area, threaded the catheter to my heart and took a look.  Turns out, I was 70% blocked in two areas from scarring.  Because my arteries are already small, the amount of scarring that was there was quite a bit.  I would have had another heart attack had I ignored this.  They were actually able to re-stent and used two additional stents to open the scar tissue blockage back up.  It was instant chest pain relief.

I will note that even though I wasn't happy about the follow up care of my first doc, this was not his fault.  The scarring is just something that happens.  If you have normal sized arteries, this is not a biggie.  The reason it was an issue for me is because of my small arteries.  Go figure!  The new doc said now that we have fixed the scarring issue, he does not feel like I will have any more problems.  What a relief because if I do have any more problems, there is not any room for any more stents!  It would be cracking my chest open and by passing the area.

I don't normally give advice, but today I am throwing out a bit of advice.  My advice is to always listen to your gut instinct and to understand that doctors don't always get it right.  Stand up for yourself and your health care. I listened to my gut instinct on October 13, 2011 and called an ambulance which saved my life during a massive heart attack.  In May, I really, really wanted the answer my first doc gave me which is I was fine.  The problem was that my gut told me I wasn't.  I listened again, got a second opinion and managed to avoid a second heart attack altogether.  I once again feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

I am also the luckiest girl in the world because of the outpouring of encouragement I have received from all of those in my life.  It is truly amazing and I lead a very blessed, amazing life.  I now get to focus on my first of two 25 year class reunions coming up a week from Saturday.  I get to go on vacation in July and then I get to go to the other 25 year reunion in August.  I can feel comfortable once again that I will be there in person and not on the memorial table.  That, my friends, is a beautiful thing!

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