How the cold weather saved my life

Unseasonably cool temperatures in October helped me solve a mystery that was threatening my life. When the leaves started to fall in September, I went on Craigslist and found a small leafsweeper to keep the new lawn tennis court playable.

In order to protect the court in wet conditions I choose a model that you have to push, instead of the tractor-drawn style. It was a little more work, but the area wasn’t that big, and being in fairly good shape, I figured I could handle it.

As the weather turned colder, however, I found it was harder and harder to push that darn thing! A couple of minutes pushing and I would be so winded that I could hardly breathe.

Like most people, of course, I tried to ignore the symptoms, but they kept getting worse. After all, I could still play tennis because you get to stop between points and catch your breath, so how bad could it be?

As the weather got colder, however, even tennis became a problem. I found there wasn’t enough time between points to recover my breath no matter how much I stalled. I was also having trouble keeping up with my farm and construction work.

About 10 days ago I finally went to the Doctor. He ordered a chest X ray and some blood work and suggested that it might not be what I was afraid it was. When all those tests came back normal, however, I knew it had to be my heart.

On Tuesday I took a stress test and my fears were confirmed. They immediately scheduled me for an angiogram and on Thursday morning at 6:30 am, I found myself at the Catheter Unit at Strong Hospital.

For those who have never been so lucky, the process is not as bad as it sounds. They stick a wire into a vein (in my case in the wrist) and fish it up into your heart while they watch on a special X ray machine. By injecting dye into your coronary arteries they can tell whether you have a blockage.

I insisted that they use as little sedative as possible so I was awake and alert during the entire procedure. Except for a little tugging on my arm, I felt nothing.

As I suspected, they found a 95% blockage of my OM 1, the Obtuse Marginal artery, a small branch off the Circumflex Artery that serves the midregion of the heart. The OM 1 may be small, but apparently it is big enough to cause a big problem!

In less then an hour they had inserted a balloon to open up the artery and placed a metal stent to hopefully keep it open for a while. As a precaution I spent one night in the hospital hooked up to a heart monitor with an IV to keep blood thinners pumping through my new stent.

As I write this early Friday morning on a hospital computer, I expect to be released in a few hours. I don’t yet know what limitations I will have, however, I don’t think they will be major. Hopefully, I can get back to my tennis and my farm work in short order.

It’s a great blessing that we live in an age of such medical miracles, however, I have been warned that this treatment is not a cure for Coronary Artery disease. I will have to go on a number of medications to protect my heart from further problems and give renewed effort to weight loss and controlling my blood sugar.

As a Type II diabetic, my risk of heart disease is at least 3 times greater than those without that problem. In fact two thirds of all diabetics eventually die of heart disease. I guess I’ve got a lot of work to do to end up in the other third.

If there is a lesson here it is that “Da Nile” is not just a river in Egypt. If you have shortness of breath don’t try to ignore it. Your body is trying to tell you something!

Thanks to all who have sent their best wishes and love. I love you too!

7 responses to “How the cold weather saved my life

  1. Way to go Corrin! Glad it worked out well, and thanks for the warning…

  2. Corrin,
    I’m glad the procedure went well. We all have “da Niles” and I appreciated your inspiration. Can we bring you and Amy a meal? Dietary restrictions other than vegetarian?

  3. I’m glad you’re safe. I didn’t get from the story, however, how cold weather saved your life.

    And what construction are you doing?

    • Ever the editor Georgia! I think most readers north of the Mason-Dixon line might recognize that the month of October had temperatures well below average. Being short of breath during exertion in cold weather is a classic presentation of angina. The problems tend to show up more during cold weather for a number of reasons. First, cold air is harder to breath and makes the airways of the lung contract. To a certain extent, this happens to blood vessels and arteries as well. Finally, the energy needed just to keep the body warm may be the straw that breaks the camels back. When the heart is struggling to pump enough blood to keep the body functioning something has to give. Angina is a warning bell that something is about to blow.

  4. This is exactly why I have begun working on my Type-2 with the primary benefit of being able to avail myself of GVTC activities. I hope I can avoid the scare you had, but good going, anyway. Plus, as things are going, the Republicans need every breathing soul they can get. 🙂

  5. Not sure how we got to the age where this would not even be all-that-unexpected. Yikes!! Good for you for heeding the warning (Too bad you didn’t listen to a polite “knock”) Too many of us wait til the door blows in before we GET IT.
    So, take care of yourself…what would the world be without you around to beat up every once in a while?

    • Lori, As one of the few people that remember me from the bad old days this could hardly be unexpected since I once weighed over 320 pounds! And even though I have been a vegetarian for 37 years that is no guarantee of heart health if you don’t eat the right stuff. Thankfully the days are long gone when I bought cheese in 5 pound blocks and finished off cartons of ice cream in the middle of the night! And as for stress…don’t get me started!

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