This writing is about four days in the making. Most of you know that last Friday I had to go to my local ER due to chest pain. I was subjected to a day of probing, prodding, labs, and EKG's. They sent me home because everything checked out but with the advice that if my chest pain recurred I would need to return for a heart cath. My age, general health, and family history were too prominent to ignore. I came home hoping for no more chest pain and with a resolve to take better care of myself.
Well, the chest pain came back on Sunday morning and it was worse than the original episode. I heeded my doctor's advice and returned to the ER. Soon I was back in the chest pain observation unit and having a visit with a cardiologist I've known for many years. Dr. Olson is someone I trust and I had no doubts that his recommendations were in my best interests. The chest pain that was resolved with nitroglycerin, the cold clammy sweat and nausea that accompanied it, and the right bundle branch block were all too much to dismiss. I let Dr. Olson proceed as he saw fit.
On Monday morning I underwent a heart cath. The results were both good and bad news. The good news was that none of my coronary arteries were occluded. Everything was open and flowing. The bad news was that my coronary arteries are congenitally small and narrow. This lent itself to my having had vasospasms. It's a condition called Prinzmetal Angina. This made perfect sense in light of the chest pains I was having and my passing a nuclear stress test with flying colors on the previous Friday.
I came home later in the afternoon on Monday with some more changes to my medication regimen. I was prescribed a drug called a calcium channel blocker which should act to prevent any further arterial spasms in my coronaries. I was also given a scrip for nitroglycerin tablets in case I need them. I have to say that this treatment plan is working well so far. I've had no more chest pains and I haven't had to take any nitroglycerin either. Fantastic! I should be on the mend now.
I've had a few days since of not feeling very well in terms of having a low energy level. This is no doubt an adverse effect of the calcium channel blocker but it will hopefully resolve in time. I can deal with feeling run down so long as it entails no more cardiac episodes and no further ambulance rides. That was all a bit much for my nerves but I must say my fears over having blockages trumped anything else I might have been concerned about at the time.
I'm getting back to normal now. I was given a low sodium, low cholesterol diet and I've been trying very hard to live by it. I am always very compliant with my medication schedule, so taking the pills on time isn't an issue for me. I know that with my family history heart disease is a malady which tends to run through the gene pool on both sides and I have no desire to go that route myself. So I'm following my doctor's advice and doing things the way I'm supposed to be doing them. This includes turning down a cheeseburger for lunch today. It was hard to do but I remembered the pain, the rides in the ambulances, and the invasive procedures I endured while in the hospital, and it wasn't that difficult after all.
Getting back to my routine has helped a lot as well. I wasn't released to go back to work until Thursday. I think I needed the extra time off because the heart cath took more out of me than I expected; or perhaps it was all the drugs they used to snow me during the procedure. Whichever, I didn't complain. I wasn't experiencing chest pain and having to call 911 anymore. I can deal with the other issues as long as I don't have to go through any more of that.
I feel I will be back to my old self soon enough. I'd like to thank everyone who checked on me and sent me notes of encouragement throughout the last wild week. I can overcome anything; that I've learned in my nearly 45 years living.
And I will continue to pursue the goal of taking better care of myself. It won't be easy turning down cheeseburgers and french fries on a regular basis but I can do it often enough to keep myself out of the ER. One thing about having small coronary arteries is that I can't risk building up plaque in them. My cholesterol level was excellent for someone my age, so I think it best not to rock the boat.
Hopefully this will be my last cardiac post. Keep egging me on in this goal. I'll need all the help I can get.