Thursday, February 2, 2006

My Second Chance

As some of you may or may not know, I returned from St. Joseph's Hospital yesterday afternoon after a 48 hour surreal experience involving two hospitals, one blocked artery, one stent and many many prayers. I tell this story to once again illustrate the power of prayer and of God's healing touch.

About 4:00 pm Monday, I was leaving a meeting at Madison Central High School, walking to my car and my chest started to ache. I had felt this earlier in the day, but not to the degree I was feeling it in the parking lot. I sat, relaxed and it went away. I went back to my school and by the time I got into my office, I felt the pain again. It was similar to a pain I felt 18 months earlier, which prompted me to get a "stress echo". Those results said I was healthy - overweight and out of shape - but my heart was healthy.

I called Kathy and told her I was going to swing by and pick up my insurance card and go by Pattie A. Clay's ER to get it checked out. I drove to the hospital and told the admitting nurse I was having chest pains. I was immediately taken to the back of the ER where they took my blood pressure, temperature and insurance information. The pains subsided before I got to the back of the ER.

Over the next 3 hours, they poked me for blood, prodded me for tender spots, and padded me to the EKG machine. They found that I was relatively healthy. Blood counts were fine, EKG was normal, cholesterol was a little high. By that time, however, they contacted the cardiologist I went to 18 months ago for the stress echo, and he recommended I stay the night for further tests.

I hadn't had anything to eat all day and by the time I got settled in my room, it was 10:00 pm and I was starving! The cafeteria had closed, but the nurses found a frozen dinner and warmed it up for me. As I was bringing the first bite to my mouth, the nurse walked backed in and said he just got word I was to be on a clear liquid diet. So they substituted the lasagna for orange jello. It was the best jello I ever had!

The next morning, my primary doctor came in at 5:00 am to let me know that my heart enzymes were a little high, I had very likely suffered several mild "MIs" and they wanted to do a heart cath to see what was going on. I agreed. My cardiologist came in about 7:30 am and told me that he thought I had some blockage in my right artery. They wanted to order a heart cath and if they found anything they could put a stent in at the same time. I agreed to be transported to St. Joseph Hospital where they could do both if they needed to. Plus it was a move to a Catholic hospital.

They took me by ambulance to St. Joe's where I was taken to the HISSU (Heart Institute Short Stay Unit). I waited for about three hours until they finally prepped me for the heart cath. Depending on what this new doctor found (my cardiologist was not in Lexington that day) a few things could happen: they could find nothing and I'd go home that evening; they would find some blockage which could be relieved with a stent; or they would find enough blockage to warrant open heart surgery.

Once they put the heart cath in, they began looking around. What they found was no blockage in the right artery, which the EKG mistakenly found - instead they found what my cardiologist would later call a "Widdowmaker".

A "widdowmaker" is a 99% blockage in the left artery coupled with a blood clot. The cardiologist said if I had ignored the chest pains a day earlier, I'd surely be dead right now!

He was able to clear the blockage, dissolve the clot and put the stent in. The rest of my arteries were OK and there was no damage to my heart! What a miracle!

I spent the next 12 hours lying on my back, not moving my leg, and not raising my head. A small price to pay for how fortunate I was!

I am convinced the outcome would have been different if it weren't for the prayers of my family, friends, and Church community. Not at any time was I ever nervous or concerned. I was very relaxed (even before the drugs) and calm because I knew I was in the Lord's hands. It is an amazing feeling to have!

My second chance at life begins now. My life changes now. I'm going to eat better, (no more 4-Ways) exercise more and stress less. And continue praying!

Thank you all for the prayers. They were answered!


Julie D. said...

Thanks be to God that you heeded those signs ... when I saw the word "widowmaker" my blood froze.

Praying for your swift recovery.

Barb, sfo said...

How scary! I'm glad you have come through it all OK....take good care of yourself! With prayers--

Moneybags said...

I'm so glad you are okay, my friend. Please take it easy and continue to pray. I hope you are well and will pray for you.

Get well!!!