Posted on: June 14, 2009 2:00 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2009 10:38 pm
I've felt compelled to write this story, since it almost wasn't written. I am a survivor of 7 heart attacks, and had a recent scare that I thought was my 8th, and final heart attack. For those of you who think you're too young for this information, you are exactly who I am trying to reach. You see, I had all the warning signs in the world, spent a decade trying to stop the inevitable from happening, and survived where most don't. Heart disease is a leading killer in our country, and the numbers are getting worse. Please follow through and read this story, it will all be fact based and true. It might save your life.
As a kid, and a young man, I was very athletic, and participated in a full range of sports and athletic activities. I lived my life to the fullest, from running and playing to working and partying. I also have five children. I've been married twice, divorced twice, and been self employed most of my life. I've had lots of successes, and a few failures, but not because of lack of effort. I'm a type A personality, and always give a premium effort in any undertaking I chase. That saved my life so far in fighting heart disease. At 47 years of age, I've had multiple surgeries in the last four years, including four heart catherization procedures to open blocked vessels on my heart. I have two stent placements and take 21 pills a day. Now I want to tell you all how I got here, and if anyone wants to talk to me personally, send me a PM and I'll respond.
Doctors were people I didn't want to see. I still don't, but if not for the education and skills of one man, I wouldn't be here right now, telling you all how to survive where most don't. I was 34 years old, suffered a nasty ankle sprain playing men's softball, and in the Dr.s office for the first time in years. I was healthy, never sick, and worked unbelievable hours when I wasn't playing. The nurse checked my blood pressure, asked me if I was taking any medication for it, and then left the room. The Dr came in, and instead of asking about my ankle, he started asking me questions about my "heart health". I told him that I was healthy and had no cardiac issues. I told him about my running, my working, my diet and my life choices, including smoking. After a full blood work up, I was called back into the Dr.s office and told that my cholestrol count was over 400, that my HDL (good cholestrol) was non-existent and my LDL (bad cholestrol) was life threatening. He advised me that if I didn't make serious changes, I was going to succumb to heart disease.
My first prescriptions were lipitor and altace, one to fight the cholestrol and the other to control my blood pressure. I hated it. I took the Lipitor for 6 months, and suffered an agonizing side effect which went unchecked, due to my own ignorance of the possible side effects of the drugs I was taking. The drug can cause serious muscle aches, especially with your legs, in some patients. I was one of those patients. When I finally complained to my Dr about these side effects, he switched my cholestol drugs so that I was taking a statin drug, called Crestor, and another called Zetia. I still take both today. There are still side effects, which are unavoidable, because not taking the drugs put me in further danger. I live with it. The Dr. also gave me another drug, that I carry in my front left pocket everywhere I go- nitro glycerine. Nitro has saved my life twice. You see, nitro enters your blood stream through your tongue almost instantaneously, causing your arteries and vessels to expand and relax, lowering your blood pressure, and giving you time. If you are the least bit risky for heart disease, either through blood disorder or poor physical fitness, you should always carry nitro on your person and take one 325 mg aspirin every day. The aspirin works as a blood thinner, and the nitro will save your life when you least expect it. This I know as fact.
My first heart attack hit minutes after extreme exercise. It was extremely painful, and I knew what was going on instantly. I reached in my pocket, took out the little brown bottle of nitro, and ingested the first pill. You place it under your tongue, and let it dissolve. The side effects are quite noticeable; you will suffer a head rush, and if the pill works, an immediate relaxation. When I was first given the nitro, the instructions were simple: don't go anywhere without it, and if you think you're having a heart attack, take one, wait five minutes, and then take another if you're still having symptoms. If you reach a third pill, rush to the ER. I've reached the third pill 5 times. When I first took the third pill, I was already having extreme pain and loss of breath, I was sweating profusely, and it felt like I rang my funny bone in my left elbow TIMES TEN. You will know its a heart attack, I guarantee you this. Don't waste time; it only takes minutes to succumb to a heart attack. The only reason I've survived so far is the quick thinking and positive reaction to the warning signs. So many others die because they feel so bad that all they want to do is lay down. DON'T. Get to the ER as soon as possible. When I made my first visit, the attending physician said my EKG was normal. He believed it was a false alarm; but it wasn't. The blood flow to my left arm was non existent, and it was cold and purplish colored. I showed the ER doctor, and he called a cardiologist in. Before the cardiologist got there, I was in a full blown second heart attack, and the enzyme levels from my blood assured the medical staff that I was indeed having heart attacks. The EKG still showed normal, so the staff was in confusion as to what was happening to me, but the blockage and subsequent heart attacks were real. The pain relief they gave me only masked some of the pain; I am quite aware of everthing that was going on at the time, with a heightened sense of awareness of everything. Prayer in the ER was all I could think to do, because the situation got very bad really quick. Before I had my first surgery, I suffered five heart attacks. The fifth one came two hours before a scheduled heart catherization, which had to be moved up to a life saving procedure. Today, just four years later, heart catherization is done almost as soon as the enzyme level proves that a heart attack is taking place. That has happened to me three times, including recently, when the procedure was done because of my medical history.
Heart catherization is done by a cut to the right of my groin, into the main artery of my right leg, and a contrast dye is injected to highlight the blocked area. The surgeon then takes a wire and runs it up your artery to the blockage, and then a balloon is inflated to clear the block and restore blood to the affected area of your body. In my case, they had to install a "stent", a spring looking device that is put in the vessel, keeping it open and freely flowing blood to which ever part of the body that is affected. After two weeks, the stent grafts itself into the vessel and stays there. Physical limitations include no lifting and no strenuous exercise for at least two weeks, allowing the stent to graft into place. If everything goes the way it's supposed to, the area will remain open and free flowing, stopping cardiac arrest. If everything goes right. My sixth heart attack was a blockage at the stent that was implanted, and once again it was a sharp, incredible pain in my left arm and elbow, shortness of breath, and profuse sweating. I was driving a car, and made it to the ER entrance where I collapsed. I've been quoted as saying "God can drive cars". All I remember is pulling the car in front of the ER, throwing my keys on the hood and walking in the door. My daughter was on the phone with me, making sure I made it to the hospital in time and where my route and location was during the drive. When I came to after the surgery, my family was at my bed, praying and worrying.
My diet drastically changed from the 400+ cholestrol to where I sit today, under 150. I will be on cholestrol drugs for the rest of my life, and my diet is forever changed. That's the hardest part of surviving all I've been through; Nebraska corn fed beef is the best in the world. Now all I can do is look at it. LOL. I'm allowed a generous 4 ounce portion of lean beef once in awhile, but now I eat lots of chicken and turkey, fruits and veggies. I don't drink alcohol, but an ice cold beer once in awhile is ok, just not recommended. I can have a little wine if I like, but I choose to not drink. I want to be sharp if something happens, and alcohol dulls everything, including your senses. I don't eat fried foods, or high fat content foods. With the change in my diet, I've added years to my life as long as I take my meds and rest. Recently, we had another scare, and now a new drug has been added to my daily take. Now I take norvasc, which gives me an ongoing dosage of nitro glycerine 24/7. It's been tough getting used to, as I have been extremely drowsy and sleepy, and have slept more since my last illness that I ever have. I'm getting used to it, but I miss alot of you here. Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon, and back to doing what I love. I did go to the College World Series yesterday, and am going again Monday if I can hack it.
If anyone out there has a question about heart disease or blood related disease, feel free to call me out and I'll share what I know. If this blog saves one person's life, it was well worth writing. Peace.
Posted on: January 7, 2009 10:06 am
Good morning people. I want to share the biggest hypocrisy on CBSSportsline. If I don't write this blog, others will succumb to the same fate as many of us have already endured. What you are about to read was posted right here, on threads supported and supervised by administration on this site. Warnings work, if you have a gang of people to back you up. The concept in itself should work for good as some in here offend the masses and the masses respond in kind to end their ridiculous hyperbole. However; when the offensive gang up, and pick on one person at a time, they can be cruel and indignant to ANYONE. I'm going to give you some disturbing examples of what some of these people have gotten away with, openly and unpunished. Amazingly, when one righteous individual stands up to these internet "bullies" that person has to succumb to the most hatred filled attacks and harrassment that is considered to be internet bullying and is illegal by law in this country. You could be next. My status here has taken a beating at the hands of these posters, and another in here has to put up with the most aggregious of attacks. I warned the entire group to leave the man alone; instead their attacks were directed at me and are even more cruel to the poster I'm talking about. YOU WILL BE NEXT. Please take your time reading this; make CBS accountable for allowing this criminal behaviour to continue.
They post under a thread titled "Pile of Frauds" and their membership have no conscience.
Feel free to scroll through the threads. I have to warn you, some of the attacks are vicious. I hope CBS reads this blog, allows it to flow, and that your comments are paid attention to. Please comment. Gang violence is on the internet.