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!