2018-09-01 14:09

So, I had a heart attack

Tl; DR: Yes, I had a heart attack, but I am ok.

First, some background.

  • I am fat (~130 kg recently)
  • I have had high blood pressure for a long time
  • I have fatty liver syndrome
  • I am insuline resistent

So, a heart attack is probably not an unexpected thing, but hey, I lived to tell the tale, so here I tell it.

I walk everyday when I come and go from work, around 20 blocks each way. That is good, and is something I need to do! However around august 23 I started having some chest pains when I did. I walked a few blocks, chest pain started, I stop, pain stops. Not a horrible pain, maybe a 4 in a 1-10 scale.

Because I am nothing if not good at ignoring messagesI don't want to get, I blamed indigestion, or whatever. It was mostly some discomfort. Who cares, right?

It turns out at some point before then I had had a freaking heart attack, and what I was feeling was lack of oxygen in my heart because of insufficient blood flow. I did not feel the heart attack, I was feeling the sequels of it.

BTW: coworkers! That means I went to the office a few days after I had the heart attack :-)

In any case: it turns out something between 30% and 45% of those who have heart attacks don't notice because of whatever reasons, and only figure out they did when they suddenly die (yes) or go for a routine check and the doctor says "dude, you had a heart attack at some point and didn't notice".

So, I kept ignoring this, but on the weekend my blood pressure was high. How high? Run-to-the-ER-high. 190 over 120 high.

I took my pills, it would go down a little, but on the next measurement it would go back up. So I would take my pills, it would go down, and then back up.

So, on monday I went to the ER. Got an EKG and troponine assay and ... "dude, don't worry about it, let's call an ambulance and take you to a hospital that has a coronary unit. You know, because you had a heart attack. In the meantime, here is some IV nitroglicerine"

I get carsick a lot. Riding an ambulance, lying down and looking backwards ... not good for me. But anyway, they took me to the Sanatorio de la Trinidad in San Isidro.

There I got more EKGs, more blood tests, and indeed it looked like I had had a heart attack, so they told me I would need a procedure. "It's not surgery it's just a procedure" ... and doubled the amount of nitroglicerine.

Funny thought: who was the first guy that decided to see if injecting unstable explosives into your veins may have a good effect? Because it does! It does a kickass job of opening your arteries thus lessening the chance of you dying right away. Also gives amazing headaches.

I got a nice room, got hooked up to monitors, IV, BP cuff, Rosario got a nice couch, and got put on hold.

If I were having a heart attack right then, then they would have done the procedure right away. Because I wasn't, it could wait a day or two. I will not go into the indignities involved in bodily functions when you can't move. There are a bunch of them.

I was having a killer headache, they were injecting anticoagulants in my belly, my hand had a IV hanging (which hurted), and they were drawing blood every 4 hours, so my OTHER arm was hurting, and the BP cuff was inflating every 15 minutes ... so, not a very restful night.

Next day they tell me I will get "the procedure". It involved opening the radial artery in my writst, slipping a hose into it, wiggle it all the way back into my heart, inject a liquid that would make my blood opaque to X-rays, then look and see where it went. If there were obstructions and they could be treated, they would do it right away.

A nurse gave me a quick bath (there was a chance they would go through my groin instead, so it was the polite thing to do).

I waited a few hours, and they took me to the hemodynamics room. Fancy monitors hanging off robot arms, nice chat with the anestesyologist, and then they gave me the paperwork.

It's a huge list of bad news.

  • The procedure involves continuous X-rays and it may be necessary to use high intensity.
  • All that radiation has side effects, so let us do it
  • Possible side effects include permanent depilation of the chest (really)

I signed off (because what's the alternative?) and they tell me "move a little to the left in case you fall asleep you don't roll off". Because yes, you are awake. Ok, awake-ish, at least I was in a drugged haze all through it.

I seem to have fallen asleep at some point and woke up just to tell them "my arm and my chest hurt a lot!" which they answered with "well, yes, we are poking inside your heart, dude" and sme gesture which I interpreted as "just put this guy to sleep already" because I woke up in my room.

They put three stents in my heart, because I had a bunch of obstructions, including one in the main cardiac artery, so, good thing they invented those.

Back in the room, I feel awesome. Really. I blame the drugs.

They slowly started cutting down on the nitro, so no more headache.

By that night I was well enough I could start playing canasta with Rosario (via an Android app: no need to deal a ton of cards, no way to cheat by making up rules, so awesome), watched a couple episodes of Forged in Fire, slept on and off.

Next day, wednesday, boring.

Next day, thursday, I was allowed a bath! I could walk to the couch and sit down! I could wear underwear! Almost civilized.

Thursday afternoon I was discharged. The dollar had gone up 30% while I was not looking.

Special note for my US readers: there was no hospital bill. My job's health provider (OSDE) took care of everything, I needed not pay a dime. I was just put in a wheelchair, wheeled to the door and told to have a nice day.

We went to buy all the medicine for my new regime (12 pills a day).

There is a anticoagulant pill I need to take for a year, and if I skip it I die. There are pills to control the BP, which if I skip I may die, there is a pill for the pain, which if I mix with another pill I wil die, and there is aspirine just because they needed something a little less dramatic.

Went home, and in the next couple of days had a couple more checks with a hospital cardiologist and with my cardiologist, a nice and wise lady who I should pay more attention to.

All through this my wife was by my side, a friend took care of our kid, and everyone at work was cool about it, asking how I was doing and in general being their usual awesome.

So, those are the events. What happens now?

I need to stop being fat, so I suppose I will try.

I am in sort of the same situation as Aeschylus. There was a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object, so he tended to stay outdoors. Then he was killed by an eagle dropping a turtle on his head, because it looked like a shiny stone.

I sort of know I will die of this. But there is no rush, and I will do my best to avoid it for many years. I will try to avoid the obvious ways, like Aeschylus. And if fate deems it necessary that an eagle drops a turtle on me, at least it will be a funny story.


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