Saturday, November 20, 2010

Congenital Heart Failure, and The myth of invincibilty

Why is it, until faced with a life threatening disease, we consider ourselves to be invincible? I don't know about the rest of you, but that's how I felt, until last month. Now, I knew something wasn't right, because I had been feeling less than 100% for a while. I was getting out of breath on short walks, and I had trouble sleeping, unless I was practically sitting up.

And, like a lot of people, I put off going to the doctor. Partially because I thought I knew what was wrong, and partially because I was in denial. I figured it was pneumonia, since I'd had it before and new what it felt like, and this was really close to that. For the most part, I weathered the illness I thought I had, even managing to go to work, without calling in sick.

However, finally on October 10, I knew something was wrong, as I was having trouble breathing while just sitting still, at the computer. I decided then to go to the local urgent care. They ran numerous tests including EKG, and nothing showed up, but they could see fluid in my lungs, and the doctor there told me it was best to send me to the ER. So, off I an ambulance.

I get there, and they do more tests, including an enzyme test that came up negative. However, other tests they did pointed to the extremely good possibility that I had Congenital Heart Failure. So, I get admitted to the progressive cardiac wing. After seeing a long string of doctors, I'm told they want to do a heart catheter. For those of you who don't know, they stick a camera up an artery in your groin to you heart to see what's going on.

Now, I've NEVER had any sort of surgery on me. Not even a broken bone, so this was a minor shock to my system. But I was assured that I'd get the right drugs, and that even though it was done with a local, I'd not feel it....much. Pretty much, they were right. I didn't really feel much pain, and was in good spirits for the most part. Until afterward when they told me I needed bypass surgery.

They found 4 major blockages that could not be fixed with a stent. Now, I knew what that entailed, to a minor degree. I have a relative who's gone through that. Which means, they take a vein from one of your legs, crack open your chest, including your sternum, and bypass the blockages. Typically, you're on a heart and lung machine while they do this.

So now I'm scared half out of my wits. And I just don't know what to do. Then one of the many doctors that had paraded through my room the past 48 hours tells me, "Ask questions, find out your options, don't take it at face value that this is what you have to do." His advice helped to make me feel more in control. So, I asked those questions and more, of the cardiologist, the surgeon, anyone that I thought might answer them. In the end, I agreed to have the surgery.

I have to say, in retrospect, it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I went to sleep, then work up, with tubes coming out of more places than I care to mention. But I was alive, and they told me the surgery went without any problems. I won't bore you with the details here. Let me just say the recovery was probably more painful than the operation. Specially when some of the tubes were pulled out.

But I have to thank the staff, nurses, doctors, Patient Care Techs and Physician's Assistants of Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan for the great care I received while I was there. I'm told they have one of the best cardiac facilities in the country. As far as I'm concerned, they are THE best in the country.

In closing, I'll just add, if you think, even remotely that you might have a heart problem, don't delay like I did, get it checked out right away. You might save yourself from having major surgery like I did. In spite of what we may think, we are not invincible.

One more item. Many of the doctors I saw and spoke to were Muslim. I don't know what country they were from, I didn't ask. But EVERYONE gave me good advice, and took excellent care of me. So to those of you out there reading this, who have some religious prejudice against those of other faiths, I say this: Get over it.

 Current Mood: Happy to be alive
 Current Music: Gallery - Nice to Be With You
My Carry Pistol: Rock Island Armory M1911-A1 .45 ACP

1 comment:

Vladimir said...

Good to hear!