Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Heart of the Matter

On Saturday, August the 4th, I had a heart attack. I was walking down the dirt road by my house when I felt sudden constriction in my chest, intense weakness, shortness of breath, and tingling numbness in my whole upper body. I started back toward the house; the pain and weakness grew. I started to sit down in the ditch but figured I wouldn’t be able to get up again so I worked my way back to the house and called 911. The paramedics arrived quickly and after they put a scanner on me a young lady said: “We need to go now!” I didn’t think that was a good sign.

With sirens blaring, they got me to St. Tammany Hospital in Covington pretty quickly, with the young woman working on me the whole time. I never lost consciousness or even felt any real confusion. Mostly I felt fairly calm since at this point I understood it was all out of my hands. Once at the hospital they told me that the frontal artery leading to my heart was 100 percent blocked. They quickly put in a stent. I was then sent to ICU.

I spent two days in ICU, being introduced to a host of new medications. These made me quite nauseated, meaning I couldn’t eat anything. Not that I felt very hungry. On Monday evening they moved me to a new room in the regular hospital, and then released me Tuesday evening, although I was sent home wearing something called “Life Vest,” which monitors me and apparently can administer treatment if I have another attack.

The doctors said there was clearly damage to the heart but they won’t know how much or how much recovery I might expect until several weeks have passed. I’m hoping for good news on that front and am trying to follow all their protocols. I’m weak and can move only slowly. Still no appetite. I’ve been able to process some emails but not much else. I’m going to try to build my strength slowly. I do plan to be back at school for my classes though there are contingency plans for me easing back into that.

Thanks goes out to all the folks from the paramedics to the housecleaners who got me through my stay at the hospital, particularly the nurses in ICU, who were very considerate and kind and helpful.

Also, of course, to Lana, who has been a rock. She was at work when it happened and was working the phones at the desk when the call came through for her. I understand it was quite a shock. She’s taking a few days off work to stay home with me while I begin to mend.

I always suspected that I would need a stent or stents eventually. My brother has had to have them. But I thought I’d get some kind of warning of trouble before the actual attack. It didn’t happen in my case so any of you out there with the risk factors, get yourself checked.