Wednesday, January 27, 2010

my first month

The first month wasn't so bad.  I didn't die. I didn't forget any medication, although came close a few times.  I lost some weight.  I ate pretty well and didn't starve to death, although it felt like I would a few times.

But let me catch you up.

In the middle of November I was in Portland for work, and went for a run - an easy run, but it was 5 or 6 miles - and held a conversation the whole time.  Not bad. On Thanksgiving I went for another run - a 5k Turkey Trot, and it was not easy.  It was hard, and it hurt.  It was a long 31 minutes.  But it was a cold and rainy day, so that's probably why.

As November closed itself, and December spun by, I was running more and more slowly and with more and more chest pain, but only when I ran.  CuteDoc, my wife, thought maybe it was a cold or a pulled muscle.  I went with that.

By the end of December I decided to go to the Doctor.  He said they take chest pain seriously.  A week later - the Monday after Christmas - I had a stress test - that was pretty much fun.  I got my radiation injections, got wired up to a zillion leads, did some light exercise on their nice treadmill, and laid still for a while (which I'm particularly good at) while the single photos were emitted (it was a SPECT study).

That study wasn't good.  My left anterior descending (LAD) artery (one of the arteries delivering blood to my heart) was blocked.  My heart was starving for blood.  Also, I wasn't allowed to go home, and because it was near the holidays, the cafe was closed, so I was also starving for a bagel.

Very quickly, I had my upper legs shaved.  Not long after that, I was once again laying quite still (years of practice paying off twice in one day!) and a nice cardiologist had a wire in my femoral artery that was on its way to my heart.  A few more healthy doses of radiation, and he found that the LAD was about 90% blocked.  That seemed not that great, but then I thought about it more, and it was worse: 10% more and that means a heart attack.  Happily, an angioplasty made it bigger, and a stent was put there to keep it open.

To keep the stent from clotting off (there's that heart attack again) I had a lot of anti-coagulants in me, which means that hole in my femoral artery was not going to close easily.  Six more hours of laying still (38 years of practice, paying off three times in one day - the trifecta!) so I didn't bleed to death out of my leg.

At midnight on Monday I had to get up and walk.  Four laps around the hospital floor.  I felt a lot better.  Really.  Like everything was working.  Weird.  And there was never any pain during all of that.  None.  Not before, during, or after.  Modern medicine and skilled doctors, nurses, and techs.  Wow.  Thanks everyone.

So far, I've lived a month with the stent.  No running allowed, just walking at 3.5mph or less.  A lot less crappy food (which is a bummer, crappy food tastes good). 

What does a 38-year-old with a stent do?  Blogs about it.  Also, uses the phrase "serious as a heart-attack" a lot more than ever before, because it's a lot more funny than it was in the '80s.

I'll try to write about my on-going diet modification, weight loss, use of the modern American health care system, and trying to keep my heart (and my stomach) from starving.  Thanks for reading, and welcome.

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