Three weeks ago I suffered a heart attack. In medical terminology, this is called a Myocardial Infarction. It's what happens when a portion of the cardiac muscle is deprived of oxygen long enough that damage occurs. This is what I experienced. I was at work that morning, and fortunately I work in a hospital so I was in the right place at the right time, and I received the care I needed. In the next few days, I will go back to work and resume my normal life.
But what is a "normal" life?
I've been given three weeks to digest what happened to me. I shouldn't be surprised that I had a heart attack because cardiac disease runs in my family on both sides. Yet I am appalled to know that I did suffer this event. It is something I consider an affront. Maybe this is arrogant of me to feel this way but I do and that's that.
These last three weeks have given me a lot of time to ruminate on the details of what happened to me. It has also made me feel very vulnerable in my mortal life. You see, eleven years ago two of my cousins, who were only a little older than I am right now, died suddenly from heart attacks. One was 47 and the other was 52. The latter didn't have to die but he did because the physician who performed the intervention following his heart attack punctured a coronary artery and then didn't respond to the pages from the staff in the heart cath suite when they were trying to reach him once my cousin began "crashing," as we in the medical field say. But I digress.
I had a heart attack just like they did. My maternal grandfather died after several heart attacks and my paternal grandfather also had coronary artery disease, which required that he undergo angioplasty to thwart it. My grandmother on my mother's side had a triple bypass in 1989. My paternal grandmother, to my knowledge, is the only grandparent I had who did not have heart disease. My dad also had it, as it was determined about ten years ago that he too suffered a myocardial infarction, although his was considered a "silent heart attack" and neither he or his doctors knew about it until after the fact. So I shouldn't be surprised that I traveled the same path as they all did.
But when it's you it feels totally different. For one thing, I am sure that had I been at home when the episode began I would have almost certainly just stretched out on the sofa and waited for the "spell" to pass. I wouldn't have recognized it as a cardiac event. And when they did my heart cath it was discovered that my MI was caused by a ninety percent blockage in a section of my right coronary artery. So that means, had I been home when this happened to me, I would have just rested until the acute phase was over and in a few days the ninety percent blockage would have either totally occluded the artery or a clot would have completed it, and I would likely have died at that point. Just like my two cousins.
This isn't comforting knowledge, friends.
But things didn't turn out that way. I was already at work the morning this befell me and I did receive the care I required. I was transferred to a hospital with a cardiac unit, had a heart cath and then a stent placement to reopen the artery that was being constricted, and am now on a slew of new medications to help me prevent a repeat of this experience. I am also learning a healthier diet and a better physical exercise regimen to assist me in my quest for better cardiac health.
I was just this week released to return to my job in a few more days. I am very relieved to be getting back to my normal routine as well. Three and a half weeks off have been excruciating at times. For one thing, daytime television blows out loud and I've not, for some reason, been able to focus on any writing projects. (How diabolical!) In other words, much of the time I've been bored out of my skull and can't wait to resume a schedule which will keep me occupied physically and mentally for most of the day.
Yet not everything about this forced time off has been negative. I've gotten to spend some quality time with my family and for that I am extremely grateful. My mother has been battling some serious physical ailments for the past year and having extra time to be with her has been a godsend. I've also had additional hours to devote to meditation and chanting, that have strengthened my spirit for the journey ahead during which I plan to lead a healthier lifestyle. These "bonuses" are worth their weight in gold.
Things I'll miss about being home every day? For one, I have gotten far too used to sleeping in each morning. Rising at four a.m. again will be a jolt to the system. Also, I've let myself become much too habited to having a late morning nap every day. This I will have to forego with my return to work next week. Also, and this is a minor point, but when I was growing up my mother and grandmother always had their "stories" they watched each afternoon. There is only one "story" that I grew up with still on the air now. Days Of Our Lives is something I've never truly given up and since I've been off I've found myself turning the TV over to NBC every weekday afternoon at one o'clock to see the residents of Salem again. The Soap Channel shows each day's episode of DOOL every evening at eight and therefore I can continue watching if I so choose without much of a hiatus.
So I've recovered from my heart attack and am now ready to go back to my normal life again. I feel very lucky to be doing so beginning in a couple of days. I struggle with wondering if I will ever feel as secure in my body again as I did before this episode unfolded, but I won't waste time worrying about it because doing so would be futile. No one knows what the future holds and to put off enjoying life to worry about what may or may not happen doesn't make very much sense. I shall simply go from one day to the next enjoying the time I have and planning for my future, but realizing that today is all that is really important.
Normal life, I'm ready!
And that is my sole focus for now.