Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dad Had A Heart Attack

    Here's a picture of my Dad and the baby. We were at a Confederate Memorial park when this was taken.  

On Wednesday, June 29 I had a heart attack.  In fact, I later learned that I likely had several heart attacks over several days.  Here's how it all happened:
1)  I was sitting at a McDonalds working (I'm a software developer and can set up just about anywhere to work).  I suddenly felt a bone-chilling cold sensation all over.  Since I was sitting
underneath a vent I thought maybe they had turned the air conditioning up so I moved to a different table.  That's when I became even colder.  I started having trouble with my breathing and tightness developed in my chest, back, shoulders and arms.  A strange, intense uneasiness came upon me as well.   I thought to myself, "I must be having a heart attack!".
2)  The local hospital was only two blocks away, so I packed up my computer, loaded up in my car, and drove to the emergency room.  On the way I called my wife to let her know what was going on.  I parked underneath the ER entrance awning and walked in, telling the receptionist that I thought I was having a heart attack and needed to be seen right away.  As I was standing there I felt my absolute worst.  I pleaded with the receptionist that I needed help soon since I felt I was going to keel over dead right there.  It still took about 5 minutes before they got me into a bed.  By then, the tension had started to subside a bit.  They hooked me to an EKG machine and couldn't find anything wrong with me.  They also ran some blood tests and couldn't find anything wrong with me.  I confessed that I had eaten a 20-piece McNugget at McDonalds for lunch and they asked me if grease had been bothering me lately.  It had.  That's when the ER doctor said that maybe it was a gall bladder attack.  I'd never heard of a gall bladder attack.  However, when the blood test results came back, they didn't find any evidence of a gall bladder attack either.  I was at the ER for about an hour and a half maximum.  They couldn't find anything wrong with me, so they let me go (after recommending that I go see my primary care physician).

3)  I didn't believe that there was nothing wrong with me.  Neither did my wife ------.  That evening, I awoke in the middle of the night violently shivering.  My chest was pounding and my breathing was short.  Thankfully, ------ has been learning much about herbs.  The cayenne pepper tincture she gave me stopped my shivering, chest pain, and shortness of breath immediately.  I slept the rest of the night without event.  The next day Rachelle gave me herbs that help grow heart tissue and herbs that help prevent heart attacks.  Later that afternoon I had a less severe shivering spell as well, but I didn't have the shallow breathing.  However, overall my chest continued to have a strange pressure.  By now we had made the appointment with the doctor, but
she was so busy it was going to be August 4th before I could be seen (I was a new patient).

4)  Over the next few days I took it easy.  I reflected on my life a lot (and I'm still reflecting on it).  I have become very out of shape over the years.  Back in high school I was very active. Being a software developer and not taking time to exercise had taken its toll.  I am overweight by about 40-50 pounds and even small amounts of exercise have become very difficult for me.  I would often be gasping for breath and wheezing after just a minute or two.  I had been thinking that I was just out of shape and could get back in shape at some future time.  I had no idea that my heart was so bad off and that caused much of the "exercise intolerance" (A new 50-cent word I learned from the doctor).  Over those days I noticed that even short walks (50 feet!) could cause me to have shortness of breath and a gentle pressure in my chest cavity.  That's when I started to think that I really HAD been right back at McDonald's when I thought it was a heart attack.

5)  ------ continued to give me heart-strengthening herbs (she also believed it was a heart attack).  About 10 days after the McDonald's incident, my wife took my baby boy to see the doctor (the same doctor I had made the appointment with).  Back when we made my appointment, we had tried to have me take his appointment slot and move my son's appointment back a few weeks, but the "new patient" appointment takes longer than a "well baby checkup" appointment, so it wouldn't work.  After my baby boy's checkup, my wife mentioned my situation to the doctor.  The doctor was amazed that, given the symptoms, the ER had let me go home.  She said she would personally see to it that I would get an earlier appointment.  About two days later we received the phone call.  They could get me in on July 6th.  Thank God!  I would later find out that I would likely have died had she not gotten me in earlier.

6)  We had 4th of July celebration at ------ sister's house.  It was great.  I took it easy.  After it was over and we were preparing to leave, I carried a crock pot out to our vehicle and was immediately winded and having minor chest pain.  I told ------- that our boys would have to carry the rest (I have five children boy-girl-boy-girl-boy ages --, --, --, -- and --- months.)  I thougth to myself, "Man alive, ------!  You're a basket case.  Something is majorly wrong."  I was really wondering (and still am) what the rest of my life would hold for me (should I be so blessed to live it).

7)  Wednesday, July 6th.  My wife and I awoke early to take the 90-minute drive to the doctor (we live out in the boondocks and most locals who've been in the area for any amount of time know that's it's best to make a long drive to get better care).  My new doctor is Suzanne ------she's great.  My wife really likes her as well.  She listened intently to my account and asked a lot of very good follow-up questions.  She said that it really did sound like something major had happened and that it was severe enough that I'd better be seen immediately by a cardiologist.  She managed to get me an instant appointment with the cardiologist (Dr. Thaju -----).  He ran an EKG on me a compared it to the one that the ER had done two weeks earlier.  They were different.  He explained this can be OK, but usually is not.  He said that I needed to take a stress test to see what's going on.  He managed to get me an instant appointment at the outpatient center.  At the stress test, they take some initial heart readings (ultrasound) while you're laying there resting.  This way they can comparing your "resting" readings with your "walking-on-the-treadmill" readings.  The nurse taking those resting readings noticed something wrong.  She didn't alarm me--she just acted like everything was OK and said they needed to give me some dye so they could get a better picture of the heart.  That's when she was sure something was wrong.  Still she didn't alarm me, she made up some excuse about needing to get some supplies.  She came back in with the head nurse who broke the news to me that my heart was damaged.  She informed me that they had already called the cardiologist and he was already on his way to talk with me.  I was stunned.  I knew things were bad, but this was the confirmation I had dreaded.  The cardiologist arrived and explained everything in detail.  It was very clear.  He was 100% sure I had MORE THEN ONE heart attack over the last two weeks.  My heart had already lost 20-25 of its function and more would be lost if I waited any longer.  He said I needed to have a heart cauterization.  I didn't know what the was, but he explained that they tap into a major artery through your groin area and they insert a device with a "balloon" on the end that allows them to clear blockages and insert stints if they are needed.  After talking with my wife (and praying "God help me!"), it was obvious that my choices were: 1) Do nothing and die very soon -or- 2)  Have the cauterization done.  I chose option 2.  They immediately prepared my for surgery.  The surgery took about 2 hours.  I was awake the whole time.  The only pain was the minor pain of where they inserted the catheter.  After the surgery that explained that they had found that one of my arteries was 100% blocked, another was 95% blocked and a third was 70-85% blocked!  I had been a walking dead man for two weeks!  I could have keeled over dead on any one of those days.  One of the pictures they gave me after the surgery was particularly eerie.  It's a picture of my "widow-maker" artery.  It's named that because many men die when it's blocked.  This was the one that was 95% blocked.  I was kept alive by a very thin opening (5%) in that artery.  I would likely have died if I had exerted myself on the treadmill earlier
that day.  After the surgery I immediately felt much better.  I could breath more deeply even.

So that's what happened.  I am alive by the grace of God alone.  He saved my soul years ago.  He saved my life over these last two weeks.  He used several people to save my life.  I believe my wife was the primary one.  The cardiologist was surprised that my heart tissue hadn't degenerated in the two weeks.  There was no scaring.  He really didn't think he would be able to open that 100% blockage.  I believe my heart tissues were still alive because my wife kept them alive with those potent herbs.  The other people who saved my life were Dr. Suzanne ------- and the nurse who operated the ultrasound machine and Dr. Thaju ----- (who diagnosed the actual heart problem) and Dr. Katz (who was the one who performed the operation and inserted three stints in my heart).

I am alive today by the grace of God alone.  He used people as His instruments, but He is the One who gave me my first breath and the One who is giving me this current breath.
I've been doing much contemplation as a result of these events.  Only God knows what is next.  I am ever grateful and wish to please Him in all I do.

~My Dad wrote this and posted it as a note on facebook. I asked and he said I could put it on  my blog. I have insererted the "-----" and changed the name of my baby brother to "baby boy" in this text.~


  1. wow! What a story! Thanks for posting!

    - Rebekah Eklund

    1. Sorry, I thought I replied to this a while ago! This is "Elise" btw. :) Yes, wow would pretty much explane it, although there's more to it than I posted on here.


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