“I’m thinking of asking them to take me back to ICU,” I messaged Tracey.
“OMG why?!” came the immediate response.
“I just brushed my teeth with Deep Heat,” I typed back. “Clearly I require around the clock supervision.”
The reason I’m saying ‘back to ICU’ is I’d just spent the night there being monitored after a little operation.
An astonishing little operation given 48 hours prior to this I’d had the following conversation with my wife.
“Don’t worry, I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow because I know something isn’t right.”
I would do this because I was insistent I was going to bed. I was tired. It was late. I didn’t want to. And I’d been saying as much for the entire 15 minute drive home.
The something I was referring to was a ‘weakness’ across my chest when I’d walked up the slightest of inclines at a family member’s property where we’d had a get together for dinner.
When I sat down from my adventure watering the citrus tree – there were a lot of us and only one loo – I mentioned this to everyone and included recent similar instances. They slapped a Fitbit to my wrist and I did the same trek to see what my heart was doing. Not only did my chest have the same sensation in the same spot I tripped over on the same rock behind their water tank.
While the Fitbit didn’t show anything unusual there was a general consensus I needed to seek medical advice.
And a more specific insistence from one Mrs Devereaux that I do immediately.
“Did you know ‘I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow’ is word for word what Popper said to Grandma the night he died of a massive heart attack in his bed?” Tracey told me.
At which point I got up and packed a bag with all the chargers and batteries I could find because I realised there was no way I was getting any sleep in my own bed that night so I’d go see if they could spare me one at our local hospital.
About an hour later a doctor was telling me I had a very intelligent wife because the bloods they’d taken were showing that, in the grand tradition of my father and my grandmother, I’d gone had myself a something of a heart attack.
I just want to add at this point I didn’t feel like I’d had a heart attack.
As I mentioned, the sensation was a weakness across my chest, not a pain. Mind you, I broke my sternum when I was 15 and it rarely isn’t causing me pain so maybe it’s simply by comparison it wasn’t rating.
What I honestly expected was some sort of long Covid thing affecting my ticker. Even though I haven’t managed to return a positive test despite 4 waves of the damn virus rolling through our family the last year, I did come out of a brain fog earlier in 2022 which I assumed was a leftover of an undiagnosed infection.
This diagnosis required an ambulance joy ride to the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital, and some very delicate conversations with our mountain of kids & their partners & their kids & our increasingly more massive extended family.
Ultimately, assurances were made I was in the right place and would be doing the right things following doctors orders once some more tests were done and I was home again.
But, I was told in something of a gloaty tone, they didn’t really settle down until the completion of a ceremony involving the emptying of my last can of beer down the kitchen sink.
“Oh,” I said to Tracey over the phone when she told me. “Well, if your goal was to ensure we’re all suffering some sort of mental anguish over this I’d say mission accomplished.”
Here’s the thing: I reckon there’s every chance I had an attack both on Christmas Day and while mowing the afternoon before the events of New Years Eve.
On Christmas Day I thought it was sheer exhaustion from lack of sleep erecting a trampoline which erroneously stated in the instructions it required 2 people and 1 hour to put up, but which took 6 of us 3.5 hours to complete. When we woke up to unwrap presents at stupid o’clock I was dizzy and at one point it was noted by a some of the family I was extremely sweaty and had gone an unattractive shade of yellow. I napped a lot throughout the day.
More drastically, on the last afternoon of the year I put the most severe case of ‘weakness’, which included for the first time my arms, down to a heatstroke. On top of this I felt sickly. I did the sensible thing and made apologies to the host of the party I was to attend and drank heaps of water between naps which could, in hindsight, have lasted the rest of my very short life.
But I don’t know if these were symptoms of something to come or the actual thing having come. We can’t.
One thing I can do now though is use this opportunity to list the symptoms people should be mindful of and encourage everyone to listen to their bodies.
And, I feel duty bound to add fellas, your wife’s.
According to the Heart Foundation’s Heart Age Calculator I have the heart of a 77 year old man, which coincidently is pretty much the ages my father and his mum each died of heart attacks, so well played app, well played.
Mind you, that’s based on information prior to last week. I wonder if I’m considered older or younger now? Be nice to get somewhere closer to my actual 55 years.
I promised I would share the information about the warning signs they gave me to take away, so with that in mind please read this and try commit it to memory. In lieu of that, please ask your partner to do it.
Do you feel any:
pain ~ pressure ~ heaviness ~ tightness
In one or more of your:
chest ~ neck ~ jaw ~ arms ~ back ~ shoulders
You may also feel:
nauseous ~ a cold sweat ~ dizzy ~ short of breath
Within a couple of hours of arriving down at SCUPH I was on the slab having a Coronary Angiogram where they go in through the back of your hand with a camera and you get to watch the whole thing on a big screen, which is hell cool.
What the screen displayed was less so.
I had 40% blockages in LAD prox & RCA mid (I’m copying this off a form so please save your questions for Google) and a 100% blockage of the CIRC mid.
They blew up little balloons in there to clear the blockage which was possibly the funnest part because it sounds very much like they’re playing Battleships, calling out things like E8 and C11. Then they put in a stent, all in less time than it takes me to snack on a heavily laden plater of cheeses & crackers which more than likely helped put me in this situation.
The ambulance taxi took a little longer to eventuate than had been initially hoped so after avoiding the Rona all day I was back into a bed around 11pm where I learned there were worse things than a virus causing the staff anxiety.
The previous night I’d slept opposite a man who periodically yelled out cuss words. It was hilarious.
Unfortunately the cussing toddler-man in his 70’s who kept the other five of us in the ward room awake this second night by rattling his bed and continuously pressing his buzzer to insult the nurses who came, was not.
“Please tell me you didn’t breed,” a lady in another bed said shortly after I’d jumped into bed and been witness to a couple of rounds of bed rattle, buzzer and abuse, giving a couple of us other patients a chuckle. I imagine this had been going on for quite some time already.
Worse still, I didn’t realise until morning this wasn’t the same old dodger who I overheard earlier in the day telling a nurse he was fine at the moment but wasn’t going to promise he wasn’t going to hit out at someone later on, so there were two insufferable bankers (with a double you) staff were dealing with.
They don’t get paid enough, Qld Heath.
Also, and if you take nothing else away from my recent experience then please take this: if you do end up in hospital for a heart attack avoid taking in a toothpaste brand with a lot of red on the tube.
If you’re wondering, it’s super minty but not at all in a good way.