Posted on 10/25/2011 by dsjohndrow
It was Saturday afternoon at the local YMCA as I worked my way past the 2.0 mile mark on the treadmill. My stomach was feeling a little sour, but I pressed on for the remainder of the hour. Workout Completed: 3.37 miles (5K) - not bad for a 52-year-old guy who weighs 245. I had been working out for about 3 months by that time and lost 31 pounds. In spite of what was going on in my stomach, the burn felt great as I fantasized about the good news Mr. Scale was going to give me at my next weigh in.
What a way to celebrate April Fool's Day 2011!
I took a shower and headed off to meet my daughter for a birthday dinner 90 miles away. I met her at work and we went to her favorite restaurant. I skipped the solid food and ordered some soup and iced tea; I wasn't feeling very good at all. I drove home and at 6 PM, I went to bed. I awoke sick to my stomach at about 11 that evening. "It's just a 24 hour bug, some of the folks at work and at church had it, and I’ll be fine,” I thought to myself.
A dozen trips on the ivory bus (ours is a stick shift), a little sleep, and some ginger ale and I will be over this.
Sunday was a blur and early Monday I called in sick to work; it was 6 am. At 9, I was able to get my doctor's office on the phone to ask what they thought I should do. "Come in at 3, or go to the Emergency Room," the receptionist said.
I phoned my wife to take me to the ER. I arrived about 11 doing all the normal stuff, well except for falling off the seat in the waiting area, which was not normal. They took me right in and went over my symptoms with me. "Tired, dizzy, vomiting, and pain here, here, here and here, other than that, I feel great!" I told the nurse.
"OK," said the nurse, after she introduced two student nurses. I guess she was trying to discourage them from the field by having a half-naked, smelly, fat man take off his T-shirt. They gave me an IV, and put some Kytril in there to calm my stomach. Man, I wish I had that when I was drinking! I would have marketed it under the trade name, Long Night! Next they took my vitals and hooked me up to an EKG.
"Ladies," the RN said to the students, “I need you to leave the room.” "M'am, I would like you to have a seat here," she said to my wife, pointing to the chair at the foot of the bed. “Sir, everything is going to be alright, but you are having congestive heart failure."
My field of focus narrowed, as they shoved my mouth full of aspirin, Plavix and nitro and hooked me up to oxygen.
There was a lot of medical talk as two doctors came in to look at me. BP 62/28, oxygen 59%... my thoughts trailed off momentarily. I looked over at my wife. She was just quiet as she sat there shouldering the weight of the unknown. After all, her mother was upstairs on the 4th floor recovering from a broken hip, and her dad was at another hospital having tests.
"The paramedics will be here in a few minutes to transport you to the Heart Trauma Center."
The sirens wailed, and the paramedic talked to me about my family as we raced across the city. My wife followed behind in the family car. I still haven't been able to ask her what she was thinking that day. They slid me on to the operating table and began the catheterization surgery. The cardiologist said, yeah we'll get you stented up and probably have to take you to Beth Israel for a bypass..."
There was the flickering of a TV monitor just above my head. I had enough drugs where I was a little in-and-out. I tried not to think about the sharp surgical instruments so close to the family jewels.
"Well that is amazing, David. You have the arteries of a 17-year-old." I opened my eyes to see my wife standing there as the cardiologist gave the prognosis.
"Well, I would like to take them [my arteries] to Kentucky Fried Chicken and get them into their twenties," I replied, “and then we can go bar-hopping. I take them everywhere I go."
I love Fentanyl!
"You have what is known as a myocarditis and one chamber of your heart is virtually paralyzed. We are going to put you in ICU for a week or so until the virus subsides"
Twenty-four hours later I sat in bed talking to the cardiologist. I was on 12 liters of oxygen per hour and hadn't been able to eat anything since the soup 3 days earlier. "David, given the fact that you have one of the largest heart muscles I have ever seen, and the fact that, except for the infection, everything else is very healthy, you are lucky to be alive." (read that, exercise saved your life) He went on to say that my ejection fraction was about 20% and normal is around 60 to 70%. I really don't remember the rest, as the words "lucky to be alive" rang in my ears.
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