“Here we go…!”
Not just the words I’m using to start this post; the words I said right before I went into V-Fib, Wednesday. There was a bit that happened before I coded, but I kept it on the DL until I knew I was coming home. Well, I’m in my chair at home, now, so…here we go!
Wednesday, Marie and I went to the YMCA for our workout. I’ve been so happy with the progress I’ve made! I’ve had some awesome gains, and the fat is sooo close to being ready to go bye-bye (I can just feel it)!
As we approached the weight room, Marie and I both commented on the temp. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Xenia Y, but the weight room is in the lowest part of the building, and it’s usually hotter than…um…the rest of the place. Wednesday, though, it was actually humid, too. We commented, to each other, how it felt like a pipe burst and was steaming up the whole area!
By the time my stretches were done, I was already soaked. By the time my second set of exercises were done, I was sucking down water (I usually wait until my cool-down). By the time my abs sets arrived, I was starting to worry, a bit. I skipped my last set, and we headed upstairs to get some cool air. Probably a good thing we got up there, right away, but the trip nearly killed me (unfortunately, not hyperbole).
I sat on the bench and started blacking out. Marie and I both thought I was having a heat emergency (I sweat a lot, but this was redonkulous). We also considered I may have needed some fuel onboard since all I had was a SlimFast. The YMCA staff were Johnny-on-the-spot, had ice packs, oxygen, and Gatorade to me, right away. And, I thought I was going to be okay. I felt like I caught my second wind, and I was even trying to joke with everyone. That didn’t last long. I laid down before I fell down, and when I felt my hands and feet tingling, I looked at Marie and said the words I never wanted to say: “call the squad.”
I know it didn’t take them long, but it sure felt like it. The medics did a great job trying to calm me down, but I was in such a fit of anxiety it was impossible for me to relax. When I got to the back of the air conditioned ambulance, I was still pouring with perspiration. The medics started their protocol, realized quickly it was more than just a heat emergency, told Marie where we were going, and took me lights and siren to the ER.
En route, I was quite the interesting patient. Topping the list, though, was my 242/140 BP and my run of V-Tach. The medics called ahead and issued a cardiac alert; I cannot thank them enough, for that. When we got to the ER, the entire cardiac team was waiting, and they wasted no time.
Breathing was, well, nearly impossible. I didn’t present with pain, at all; I had diffuse upper chest pressure (imagine an elephant on your chest). Still, I had no pain and had no real reference on the 1-10 pain scale for the staff (don’t worry…that’s coming). I had trouble even getting out single word sentences, but I managed to make jokes where I could. When they sat me up in the bed to put pads on my back, I started to black-out, again.
“Here we go…”
That was the last thing I remember.
I’m sure it was only seconds later, but I have no way of knowing how long I was out. Then, the full weight of what was happening came down on me at once. I looked at the staff hovering over me and asked:
“Did I pass out?”
“No, honey,” the doctor to my left was very calm, “you went into V-Fib. We shocked you to get you back.”
There it was…I was having a heart attack.
The team wasted no time getting me to the cath lab. In fact, they literally were on the phone telling the cath lab to get the other person off the table because we were on our way. I looked at Marie, gave her a kiss, told her “I love you,” then we were flying down the hall. Remember the other patient who was on the table? They were shoving him out of the way as we turned into the cath lab (don’t worry; his procedure was done).
I can recall–once upon a time– keeping people as calm as I could when I had a few of my hairer medic calls. It makes them easier to control if they’re calm. I was not so easy. One nurse was telling me how much better I was going to immediately feel as soon as the clot was cleared; another nurse was introducing herself, to me, and trying to keep my mind occupied; another staff member told me he was cutting into my groin, but I didn’t care. I just wanted it to be over. I had no pain, and I was not once afraid of dying. I had total faith in the abilities of the staff taking care of me. I just wanted that damn clot out!
At some point, in this whirlwind part of the monsoon story, I felt my chest pressure returning. The staff, recognizing this is what happened right before I coded in the ER, called out to everyone to be ready. Sure enough: V-Fib. Only, I didn’t lose consciousness, this time. Remember that part, earlier, where I said I didn’t have a pain reference? Well, I now have one for my 10 out of 10: I was not sedated when they shocked me. The nurse would tell me, later, she tries to ensure anyone being shocked is sedated.
“I’m sorry; there just wasn’t time.”
She was so genuine, but she also knew I really didn’t care. I was alive.
They were right, and as soon as the clot was cleared I felt immediately better.
For those who want to know the deets, I had a STEMI (S-T elevation Myocardial Infarction) as a result of a 100% blockage of my RCA (Right Coronary Artery). The cath lab used a balloon to clear the clot and a stent to keep the vessel open. I suffered no noticeable damage to the muscle, and my EF (Ejection Fraction) is still 55%.
There’s a whole other post which will deal with finances (including a story where the trip to the pharmacy almost made me code, again, when we were told the price of the one med I cannot skip. That’s for another time, though.
It’s hard to say the words out loud. In fact, I’d rather say I had a STEMI.
Here we go:
Hello, my name is Tony…and, I had a heart attack.