Monday, August 13, 2012

One Year Ago Today....

....I had a heart attack.  Yep, healthy fit me had a 'mild' head scratching type heart attack.  The small clot had to be dissolved.  That took 4 or 5 days in CVICU.  I had a reaction to the meds used to sedate me. They made me very sick.  When they dissolve a clot, you have to remain very still.  They leave the Cathe wire in you.  If it breaks, you can bleed out.  So they sedate you.  And I had to have phenegren (I know I spelled that wrong) with every dose.  So I slept for 4-5 days.  I know that I was in CVICU for 5 days total.  Then 4 more days in a private room on the cardiac floor.  I still had and unexplained pain that to me, was severe.  I had it some time before the heart attack and for a week before going to the hospital, I was very uncomfortable.  At times it was very severe.  My only description of it is that pain you feel with acute gallbladder issues or that gas pain you feel for a day or two (if you do not take you pain meds) after gall bladder surgery.  (I had my gallbladder removed 5-6 years ago.)

The pain was actually a small tear beginning in the aorta.  That was diagnosed on December 7th.  Several months later.

To an inexperience eye (That eye usually comes from a Radiologist, sometimes a Cardiologist.) aortic dissections are difficult to diagnose.  A Cat Scan or an MRI  with dye contrast is the only way that they can see it.

I still believe that is what caused my mild heart attack.  I also believe that the meds slowed down the tearing process.  Shortly after my heart attack, I went back to training as though I was rehabbing for a heart attack.  Totally unaware of the aortic dissection.

As I have said in my previous posts, aortic dissections are a bit rare and heard to diagnose.  In the US there are about 2000 a year.  1/2 of all aortic dissections are diagnosed on the autopsy table.  If you have lived with an aortic dissection, it is by the grace of God that you are able to tell about it.

And I give all glory to God.  I am here because He has a purpose for me.  You are here and reading this because He has a purpose for you.  I do not believe in coincidence or happenstance, only in divine ordination and intervention. 

I am so blessed.  When the dissection was found, it was a tear from the internal wall the the medial wall (the aorta has 3 layers in it's wall).  I was in what the surgeon called stage 4.  I had not totally torn through and  bleeding out, nor had ripped up into the heart.  The goal for the next 2 days in CVICU was to keep my blood pressure down (very low) in order to keep the other two scenarios from happening.  

When you get home, you sit, walk around, fold clothes, put dishes in the dish washer, and that is about it!  You move around to keep from getting sedindary, but very limited.  After a few weeks, 30 minute-1mile walk was the max exercise I was allowed to do. 

Some of you may or may not know, I am a professional photographer by profession.  I have been for 20 years.  That is a workout in itself!  Of course, I could do little work.  Again, God provided.  Expenses for a business do not change just because you are sick.  I still had bills and my fixed costs to take care of.  I did maternity sessions, business portraits, etc.  And God was always there for me.

My restrictions have been lifted.  I am blessed to not have surgery.  I have read so many stories about  people who go into the ER in my condition, wake up 5 days later with a zipper down their chest.  I recently heard of a success story of a very fit woman who is also a cardiac therapist.   She is in Decatur, Alabama.  While on a trip to the beach, felt something happening and knew exactly what was going on in her body.  Her aorta was ripping.  It was so quick that she had a total tear through and was bleeding out by the time the paramedics got to her.  She survived surgery, healed, became a bride and is back to cycling.  Her passion.  So there is life after aortic dissection.

How does an aortic dissection happen in a younger to middle aged, fit person?  Good question!
  • Hypertension can start setting in.  Not bad, but that blood pressure starts inching up. 
  • Genetic.  Something we like to blame everything on.
  • In most stories I read, many people had one or more high sodium meals within 12 to 24 hours of an extreme workout or sports game.  Sodium raised the blood pressure and stayed in the system.  The workout raised it even more.  Beyond what the walls of the aorta could handle.  
  • 13 year old girls....  OK, so that is an inside joke at our house.  LOL!
I want to leave you with a couple of links
Medline Plus
Ritter's Rules

God has a reason for me being here and a reason for you being here as well.  Seek His glory and honor and guidance.  It might be to raise your children, encourage others, lead others to Him, write a blog, what ever it is, seek Him first and everything else will fall into place.