At this time of year I often ponder what could have happened to me eight years ago, but didn’t.
And I often wonder why I was able to survive a 99 percent and 90 percent blockage that was discovered in my left main coronary artery (aka widow maker) Dec. 3, 2004—all without having a heart attack.
Why am I telling you this? It is so that you, unlike me, will listen to your body and get help if you think something might be wrong.
The first symptom occurred about three months earlier when son Dan and I went to a KU football game and we walked up the stadium steps from the bottom almost to the top. I felt a pain in my sternum and was breathing a bit harder than normal.
But, as soon as I sat down, the pain went away and all was good again. In the weeks that followed I would experience this pain fairly often—when I walked down the street and especially if it was up an incline. Then, as soon as I stopped walking the pain quit. It isn’t rocket science to know this might be a problem. And even though there was a history of arterial blockages in my family, I was in denial. I thought this might happen eventually but not yet. I was too young for that stuff.
To make a long story a bit shorter, I ended up at the local hospital with a treadmill test at the direction of my medical doctor. It had just begun when they stopped it and told me to go home and not do anything until the next day when the cardiologist would be here.
I went to my appointment in the morning and found out they wanted to tinker under the hood at the heart hospital. I asked directions to its location thinking I would drive there.
Not so. Next thing I know they put some nitro glycerin under my tongue and slid me into a wheel chair to be rolled to the ambulance.
It wasn’t red light and siren but an ambulance ride nonetheless. I had never had a heart cath done before but they did one later in the day. The next thing I knew I was told about the blockages and what a ticking time bomb my heart had been.
Right after an event such as this you become careful about what you eat, you make sure you follow the doctors orders to the letter, etc. But as the years go by things get more relaxed and now these eight years later I wouldn’t say that I am eating a strict low-fat diet. But there are a few foods I have given up.
It appears my high-powered drugs are still working and my cholesterol and triglycerides are in the correct ranges.
I searched the Internet to try to find out how long stents are supposed to last. The best I could come up with is about 15 years. But with exercise there really isn’t a hard and fast answer.
I asked my then pastor why I got to live and others don’t. He said something to the effect that grace doesn’t pick whom it shines upon. But for the grace of God, go I. I often think, this is the day the Lord has made and I am pretty glad about it.
I have tried to be consistent with my regular 2-mile walks. Many weeks are seven days, many are five, since I was told this is the best thing I can do. And the cartoon I saw while taking my annual treadmill test sums it all up: What fits your busy schedule better, excercising an hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?
If you wish to share your comments or ideas, my e-mail address is email@example.com.