That Saturday night, we had been in the hot tub before going to bed. I was restless and went downstairs to experience classic symptoms of wrist, left arm, shoulder and then jaw pain. I had been working in the Cath Lab for 20 years by then and my current position at Immanuel was particularly stressful and I managed a very difficult staff. Being on call was taking its toll on me as well as the late hours and everyday struggles.
I went upstairs to awaken Brenda and ask her to take me to the ER. She smartly refused and called the squad instead who showed up to find me writhing on the floor in the family room. Brenda was making arrangements for the kids and the neighbors were awoken to the squad parked in the circle where we lived. One of our neighbors was the EMT on duty that night. The started an IV and applied patches and a BP cuff. I have been in enough of these situation to realize the ECG was not good and my pressure was through the roof. Everyone was trying to calm me down but I knew this wasn’t good. I just wanted to get moving.
When the squad asked where we wanted to go, Brenda said Immanuel though Methodist was much closer. So we went to Immanuel which later proved to be somewhat of a mistake to have my own staff work on me. As it was the moment we arrived, I coded and required resuscitation, being shocked several times back into rhythm. Procedures these days are much different as squads are trained now to respond in more expeditious ways to these emergencies.
I was cathed that night after being administered tPa and being intubated to find the clot in my left anterior descending was resolving but a blockage persisted. I was brought back on Sunday to place a stent. Today, tPa is rarely used and most stents are deployed during the initial Cath. In the world of cardiology, the last 40 years have been very fluid in terms of treatments and studies for what preserves the most heart muscle. I was dismissed from the ICU to home on Monday.
On the following Friday, I suffered a second heart attack and was recathed and stented yet again due to acute closure of the original vessel. I did not code this time but extended the damage to my injured heart. I attended rehab faithfully, quit smoking and joined the YMCA. I went 5 days a week for years. I felt reborn somewhat, alive again.