IWSG – June 2019
After missing a month (story to follow), I’m back in the game and ready for the IWSG monthly blog hop. Haven’t heard of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group? That seems very strange if you’ve been reading this little blog of mine for any period of time, but I guess it’s possible. Check us out HERE and sign up.
An insane story-
About 4 months ago, my wife and I planned and booked a vacation to New York City. It is our favorite city and our favorite place to vacation. We try to travel there at least every other year.
One thing about NYC- You walk a lot. And I was not in great shape for walking. I’ll blame winter, but really I’m just lazy. In order to enjoy my trip to the fullest, I began walking on the treadmill, uphill, about 45 minutes a day.
Sometime in the middle of April, during one of my workouts, I experienced a strange numbness in my left elbow. I immediately thought heart attack, but when I got off the treadmill, the numbness went away and I felt fine. Not wanting to overreact, I decided against going to the doctor.
From time to time, and only when my heart rate was elevated, the numbness would return. Each time, when I stopped and rested, things returned to normal. I knew something wasn’t right, but my trip to NYC was coming up (first part of May), and I really didn’t want something to get in the way of 8 days in my favorite place.
The first few days in the city, things were fine. I was tired, but the numbness stayed away. Over the next few days however, whenever I was exerting myself, the numbness returned. I was forced to stop several times each day and rest for longer and longer periods before I felt normal. It was starting to really freak me out. Rather than enjoying my visit, all I wanted to do was survive the week, get on the plane, go home.
Wednesday the 8th was the worst. I had several events, and spent most of the day resting in the hotel. After meeting a friend for dinner that evening, Sheryl and I stopped at Whole Foods to get some things for breakfast the next few days. On the five hundred yard walk back to the hotel, I was forced to stop twice, both times requiring 10 minutes of sitting before I could begin to walk again. Back in the hotel, I flopped on the bed and fell asleep very quickly.
I woke with a start just after midnight. For the first time since the numbness began, it manifested during a resting state. It passed in seconds, and my exhausted body fell back asleep. Forty minutes later, I was awake again, numb from my elbow to my shoulder and this time, my chest hurt, as if someone was pushing down on my sternum with tremendous force. I was out of excuses and rationalizations. I woke Sheryl, and at 1:00 AM Thursday morning, we found ourselves on the way to an emergency room.
24 hours of tests revealed the culprit. I had at least one, maybe more blockages in at least one artery. I had been suffering angina from lack of blood flow. Luckily, I did not experience cardiac arrest, but if I’d continued to ignore the warning signs, the chances of a fatal event were very high.
I spent a very stressful 36 hours worrying, wondering, thinking. I’d always considered myself an optimistic person, but most of those hours were lost in depression, the strangest and most intense sadness. All the medical personnel were certain I was a stent or two away from feeling better. Their confidence, and the continual presence of my amazing spouse kept me going.
On the 10th of May, I had an echo-cardiogram which revealed two blockages (one at 95+%) in the LAD artery. Angioplasty was performed. Two stents were implanted, and after 95 minutes awake on the table, I was back in the recovery room. After 24 hours of observation, they released me from the hospital, back to the city, the subway, my life.
We had to stay in the city an extra week, but the difference between the first 7 days and the second were night and day. I was able to walk without pain or numbness, sleep without being awakened.
Physically I wasn’t limited, but mentally, I had and still have some difficulty.
Every twinge of pain or discomfort and I’m sure it’s my heart again. I feel alright, but the side effects of the blood thinner are kicking my ass. I get tired easily, dizzy. Sometimes my breathing is labored (another lovely side effect of the meds). I hope as my body gets used to the medicine, things will balance out.
Writing has become difficult as I’m not sure how to process the strangeness of the past two months. I feel relieved to be alive and mending, but absolutely undeserving. I’ve sat at my desk a dozen times since returning home, hoping to write something, anything, but I don’t think I’m ready. I need more time to think, and while writing would certainly expedite things, there are very few sentences willing to come out and play.
If I’m honest, I’m afraid. Absolutely insecure. And right now, that fear wins out every time. Getting this blog written down has taken me several hours, and I’ve left out a great deal. Most of it is more instances of me ignoring obvious signs of distress. Some of it is the emotional stress of worrying each night that I might not wake up the next morning.
I’m going to get some help, talk with a professional. That seems like a really good idea. Maybe the best one I’ve had in a while.
Also, I really want to go back to NYC. All this craziness hasn’t diminished my love of that place.
And I would be very ungrateful if I didn’t mention how outstanding my cardiologist in NYC was. He saved my life. Angioplasty is a modern miracle. A little hole in the wrist is the only wound required. And that has already faded away.