For the next week, two maybe more I can’t be certain of the final time frame at this point I will be taking a break from PM’ing. I have to point out this is most certainly not out of choice by no means no. On the 24th March at 10PM whilst quietly lounging on the settee waiting for a repeat of a great movie (Pandorum) I suddenly felt a huge build up of pressure in the centre of my chest. Not pain simply a huge void like sensation accompanied by intense pressure about the size of an open hand with fingers spread.
At the same time I began to feel an immense pressure in my lower throat, literally my throat felt like it was swelling and burning, incredible burning sensation at the same time I was having severe trouble breathing. At first I simply assumed this was an anxiety attack since they can hit out of the blue for no reason and I have suffered them in the past especially as a child. I sat up straight in front of the sixteen inch room fan we have in the living room and the whole uncomfortable sensation cleared after barely five minutes. Apart from a slight distress from the pain in my throat that lingered slightly afterwards and lack of being able to draw a full breath I felt totally normal. So much so I thought nothing more of it in fact after a few minutes to the point where I was even joking about it.
About twenty minutes later the whole sensation hit me again only this time it hit twice as fast and twice as hard. I was struggling to breathe so badly I literally had a small container of Vic’s Vaporub touching my top lip whilst I drew breath in whilst sitting up in front of the fan again. This time however the sensation was so bad it barely helped. Gasping in a barely audible rasping voice which took great exhausting effort I told my wife B (Barbara) to call 999 the emergency services in the
Now I have to say that sadly the emergency services have been getting a bad reputation for delayed arrival times over the years. Indeed in the past I have had reason to call upon they’re services because of my diabetes or indeed heart pains and they haven’t always had the best arrival times. Other times when I have had hospital appointments for specific times I have had to turn the ambulance crew away telling them they had arrived too late to get me to the hospital on time for my set appointment(s) and would see me sitting in my wheelchair in agony until everyone else had been seen before me.
This time however they arrived literally a minute after my wife hung up the telephone. Once in the ambulance the sensation began to wear off enough for me to talk, having an oxygen mask on my face helping me breathe answering the ambulance crew’s questions as they took me to out local hospital. Mercifully we live just five minutes drive from the hospital so it was a short journey.
On arrival at the A&E ward I was bundled off into a side room where I got the basic rudimentary treatment whilst they waited for a doctor to be free to see me. This was ten thirty PM at night. One of my elder children still living at home Simon accompanied me there and stayed with me until two thirty AM the following morning. At which point I informed him I felt much better and practically had to loose my temper to get him to go home and try to get some rest. I had after all suffered what I assumed been a mere anxiety attack and was in the safest place I could be now. He eventually agreed and went home reluctantly. Following that a nurse came to see me periodically during which time I felt tired but fine. Because I have a week heart I was given pain killers an ECG etc whilst I waited for the doctor. It was actually around four thirty AM before I finally saw a doctor. By this time apart from being extremely tired and weak I was able to answer his questions easily; my throat and the only pain I’d suffered had long since vanished. Actually the only pain I had suffered during the two events of the now previous night.
(Me several hours after my admission to our local hospital)
The doctor had reviewed all the information that had been compiled on me then calmly told me in ‘his’ opinion I had suffered a heart attack. Of course I nearly fell off the bed at that point – A heart attack no way. I had had none of the classic symptoms I had been told of to watch for in the past, a heart attack simply no way I thought. The doctor told me he was going to prescribe another wave of pain killers including ten milligrams of morphine to help me relax and for any pain I might be in. I told him I was in no pain at all the only pain having previously been in my throat. He also informed me I would be getting transferred to the not quite so local
Freemans Hospital in as they were better set up for such situations. Stunned all I could do was lay there and agree with him. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
So tired, spaced out on pain killers and morphine off I went to the larger hospital. After hours of ECG’s, blood pressure tests, more pain killers fed to me along with insulin from a mechanical intravenous feed I spent the next several hours with no sleep growing more stressed out. Eventually a doctor came to see me. He immediately informed me I had indeed suffered a heart attack at which point I countered “But I had none of the classic symptoms for a heart attack”. He looked at me blankly as if I were lying for some reason then went on to tell me I had in fact suffered a quite large heart attack, indeed massive at that. I was of course speechless from that moment on while he talked on.
Shock, horror, none believing, fear, awe, amazement, wonder, you name it the thoughts were running through my mind spilling over each other in one rolling endless thought. The doctor told me I would be going for coronary angioplasty procedure the moment a surgical team was available to treat me. Having made sure I understood what he’d said he left. The early hours drew on mind numbingly so.
Another doctor came to see me around seven thirty Am. At this time of course due to lack of sleep physical strain from the events of the night before added to the mental stress of what I had been told at both hospitals I was clearly in no mood to be told about the risks involved during the procedure before giving my consent for the procedure to go ahead.
Essentially the information I was given (as I now remember it) was that there were ‘risks’ involved that ranged from life effecting/altering to life threatening.
1: I was to be injected with a dye that would be used to highlight my innards basically so the surgeon could better view the live x-ray feed on monitors (three it turned out to be) during the procedure. I was told there was something like a one in one thousand (or there about) risk of suffering some mild reaction to the dye which could potentially leave me mentally or physically impaired in some way. Or there was a chance I could suffer a severe reaction to the dye that could kill me outright. He did say these were extremely unlikely but possible.
2: Then I was told in the past surgeons (depending on the surgeon) chose to enter through an artery in the leg by the groin or in an artery by the wrist. It had been later agreed that the groin entry point was just too high risk and the only method now was to enter via the artery in the wrist(s) and there was still a one in two thousand (or there about) risk of death should I move during the procedure itself as the surgeon would be working within the confines of the arteries just above my heart itself depending on what he/she discovered. The procedure took some forty minutes to one hour to carry out depending on what the surgeon encountered during the procedure. Essentially I should be prepared to remain as still as I could for up to one hour. Having heard the facts was I prepared to sign the required consent forms?
I did mention my disabilities and how lying flat on my back for ‘any’ time period beyond a few minutes was impossible, but I could not ignore the facts given to me about my having suffered a massive heart attack and the desperate need for this procedure to be carried out as soon as possible.
Did I then consent to the procedure knowing the new information?
Yes in a heart beat literally. I signed the forms.
I was told I would be expected to be in for my procedure at around ten PM later that morning there were two before me.
The morning passed in an understandable daze. Ten AM came and went at which point I was informed I had been moved up to two PM. This came and went too. Finally at three thirty PM I was taken along for my procedure. During which the surgeon discovered the damage to my heart was indeed severe combined with ‘two’ badly blocked arteries one of which was a main artery.
The whole procedure ended up taking all but an hour to carry out. I was awake during the entire procedure and felt absolutely no pain from the procedure itself. Anyone waiting for this type of proceedure should be aware there is NO PAIN INVOLVED. Yes the cleansing solution spread on the wrist IS icy cold damn icy cold to the point it hurts but this passes in seconds. There IS an intense cold sensation whilst the local anaesthetic is injected which is followed by an intense burning sensation bursting out the hand through the fingertips. However again this only lasts a matter of seconds, by the time you have registered these feelings they dissipate completely. There IS a mild ‘odd’ sensation of pressure in your arm proper but nothing you could call actual feeling and most certainly NOT PAIN. If you need this procedure done – SERIOUSELY CONSIDER HAVING IT don’t be put off by anything you may here or read online saying it is painful.
Now as I mentioned I can’t simply lay on my back for any real time period and certainly not deadly still for anything up to an hour. How ever the surgeon agreed to hold all the surgical equipment still whilst I adjusted my lower body an inch or so in either direction every ten minutes or so. I was of course only too aware every time I moved in even this way I was risking my life. Unfortunately it was do this or suffer an uncontrolled unexpected muscle spasm that I could never have prevented and died anyway for certain. It was a great risk I simply had to take.
During the procedure the so far cheerful chatty surgeon suddenly changed his tone of voice to quite gruff and annoyed stating the damage he was finding was quite severe and why was I only on the table now? I should have been on the operating table Wednesday night when I first went into hospital. He further went on to say as far as he was concerned he did not understand how I was still ‘here’ from which I took his meaning to be I should have died Wednesday night during my initial attack the damage was so bad. He asked me how I felt at the time of my attack and leading up to and during the procedure. I responded repeating everything I had told everyone so many times over the previous two days. At this point the surgeon damn near tore my head off saying “Well of course not everyone suffers any physical chest pains or indeed pains or discomfort in the arms. There are a rare number of people who can suffer a major coronary incident which can be life threatening yet suffer nothing more than severe neck pain and or lower jaw pains.” He said this in such a tone that I felt chastised like having a weak heart from birth I should have ‘known’ this to be so?
Until I was actually ‘there’ on the operating table having my coronary angioplasty procedure done this was the first I had ‘ever’ heard of the strange chest pain free pressure and neck pains. Heart and diabetes conditions run virulently through my family’s history. Being a sufferer of both conditions I only ever seem to find out these ‘new’ facts or information through third parties or during an incident relating to one or the other to myself in hospital.
Anyway it goes without saying that the procedure went perfectly, long but perfectly. Apart from being tired beyond belief due to lack of sleep from the first night of hospital admittance. Immediately after the procedure I felt better, better to the point of being brand new. During my days I both hospitals eating was a near impossible task both wanting to eat and even doing so. I was fitted with a single (two part) ‘stent’ a small metal pipe that was actually pushed into place in two parts and then screwed together inside my artery. This will remain there for the remainder of my life keeping the main artery open at that weak point. I can’t feel it of course nothing at all.
So I came home yesterday evening. Exhausted, relived, hyper tense but much healthier. Amazingly given the fact I suffered a massive heart attack that should have killed me days before I feel and look normal outside of being visibly tired. However on the inside I am still adjusting mentally. Physically I am not as strong as I once was but this will improve over the next couple of weeks. Previously I could barely walk around five yards due to my disabilities and indeed would black out from pain if I tried to do more. Now I can barley stand for a minute without being severely out of breathe. Talking for a few minutes leaves me feeling a little dizzy headed too. This all passes after a minute or two of course. My right arm which the surgeon carried the procedure on is going to be weak for at least a week and I have been informed not to put any pressure on it or try to lift myself up or anything else using it for a couple of weeks.
Outwardly my recovery will be as normal as anyone else’s given the size of the heart attack and my existing disabilities of course but I should be back to normal and PM’ing in a few weeks at most folks.
Throughout all of this event the thing that will always linger in my mind is the fact my having a heart defect from birth, being overweight due to my lack of mobility because of my disabilities, my weight problem being added to by the two types of insulin I take, the fact I had two severely blocked arteries none of these were the direct cause of my heart attack. Oh it ‘was’ imminent I have no disillusions about that I knew it was coming eventually. No, what actually prematurely triggered the massive heart attack if anything was in fact my ‘diabetes’ this was told to me by the doctor who checked my out just prior to my home release.
You learn something new everyday for sure eh?
After the proceedure they fitted a special new clamp to hold the artery closed whilst it heald even the nurses were unfamiliar with it was that new seen here on my wrist.
Here it is removed later that day.
Regardless of not being able to PM right now i will attempt to keep my blog going as well as visit those i follow as much as possible until i return to a more stable condition so as i normally would say: more soon folks.