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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Medical Update

     There was a time when I was accused of turning my travel blog into a food blog. I resisted.  Let me assure you that I have no intention of turning it into a medical blog either.  Nonetheless, since I am not on any of the social media (except for this one), the most efficient way for me to provide an update for those who care is this blog. 
     Tuesday morning I had a heart attack.  It was about as small as it comes, and all is well.  Having assuaged your fears, if any, what follows is a medical bulletin.  Tuesday morning around 0200 I was having trouble sleeping.  There was a pain in my chest.  I lay awake analyzing it and initially trying to convince myself that it was nothing to worry about.  That didn't work.  I could tell that it wasn't a sore back or a gastric problem.  Come morning, I talked to Durelle about it.  I was convinced that the pain had to be from a myocardial infarction.  I felt like it was not a panic situation, and I did not want to "make a fuss " with firetrucks and ambulances.  Durelle's judgement was better than mine, and she called 911.  After a half hour trip through rush hour traffic to Roper St. Francis Medical Center in downtown Charleston (without flashing lights and sirens), we arrived at the ER for Roper St. Francis Medical Center.   A while back on this blog I pointed out that the best way to go to the head of the line at the ER is to say you can't breathe..."I'm having chest pains" works, too.  The Hanahan EMS folks were outstanding.  They took EKGs that were transmitted to Roper while we were in transit and gave me a couple of spritzes of nitro-glycerin under my tongue.  When I complimented the med tech on his ability to insert an IV into a notorious "hard stick" while in a moving vehicle, he said that he had been an EMS Tech in downtown Detroit for ten years and that Charleston was a vacation.
     Almost immediately the ER admitted me and sent me to the catheterization center.  There Dr. Jeff Rieder, one of the city's top cardiologists, set out to run a catheter up into the artery that was experiencing a restriction.  It is normally a half hour procedure, but he spent two hours before he decided to stop.  He started with an insertion from the wrist, and then went to the femoral artery in the groin.  He made a dozen and a half tries with a dozen different catheters of varying sizes.  The problem was that an artery on the left, upper side of the heart took a very circuitous route...he called it torturous.  The catheter could not make the turn.  There was some flow in the artery, so he backed out and decided to treat it with meds rather than force.  He told me today that "The toughest part of a catheterization procedure is knowing when to stop."  So we have added Plavix and Toprol to my smorgasbord of pills.
     The good news, and there is plenty, is that there has been no chest pain since the first treatment; the echocardiogram shows completely normal heart function; and arterial flow was at least partially re-established.  A check of enzymes in the blood showed almost zero heart damage.  So, tonight I am home and feeling fine.  I did a previously brined pork chop on the pellet grill.  The bad news is that two scheduled surgeries had to be postponed because you don't perform surgeries on a patient who is taking blood thinners.  I had cataract surgery scheduled for two days ago and hip replacement scheduled for next Monday.  Dr Rieder understands how important the hip surgery is.  He was going to use an untreated stent because with the medicated stent I would have had to wait a year to do the hip.  I'll go back in three weeks to see if we can stop the blood thinners long enough to do the hip and my left eye.  Obviously, things could have been a lot worse.  The keys to success were: 1. I did not ignore a relatively minor chest pain 2: Durelle called 911 and 3. that Roper staff from top to bottom is outstanding. Let me offer special thanks to Nicole, Catherine, Jasmine, and Betty. I'm well enough to go to physical therapy tomorrow for my rotator cuff.
     On a lighter note, let me close with an early morning picture I took over Cindy's roof top.

     By the way, she is now minus 65 pounds since New Years of 2013.
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