Seems like this has been going on for a year or over a year. We got my blood pressure to "normal" with the aid of three pills per day. I recovered a lot of my former strength but noticed that when I pushed myself hard on the bike I could feel my heart. Not painful. Not frightening. Just an awareness that I never had before. The worst was the day after Christmas when I rode home on a trashed Clive Greenbelt. Fresh snow ruined by millions of footprints. It was not unlike riding through sand and gave me a hell of a workout. This went on for an hour and seemed to take me 2 days to recover. Of course I have been telling Iowa Heart about this sensation ever since I discovered it.
I continued to see the nurse practitioner at Iowa Heart who orders more tests than the heart doctor proper. Then I was placed on Crestor because I finally asked if my cholesterol level had been checked. Despite filling many test tubes since this odyssey began that had never been checked. Imagine that, it was high and so were my triglycerides. Beer raises triglycerides as well as soda and sugar and carbs. She told me to cut out pop, which I rarely drink, but barley pop needs to be cut too. As a final stroke of genius I was asked to pay $99 out of pocket for a "calcium scoring." Basically, a MRI that looks at the heart's blood vessels to determine plaque build up. Results not promising. They recommend that I exercise 5 to 7 days a week and start an aspirin regiment. Jolene, my nurse practitioner had other ideas.
I was scheduled for another stress test. This time I was able to complete it. Basically they wanted my heart to get to 150 beats per minute so they can get a EKG reading of it and see how long it takes me to calm down and return to baseline. Honestly, my bike ride to Iowa Heart was more taxing on me. During the test I never felt my heart. But the EKG does not lie. And the calcium score plus this test suggested that I was clogged. Angiogram was scheduled for the following week.
My last bike ride was Tuesday the day before. The weather folks screaming that an end of the world snow storm/blizzard was upon us. I got to work with a tail wind and not a single sighting of a snowflake. After I got there it snowed and the wind picked up. I decide to call in the airstrike to take me home. The last thing I needed was to have a heart attack fighting this wind and the wet heavy snow. Besides, I had to round up my buddy's van before the big day.
An angiogram is a procedure that involves pumping a subject up with dye and threading an instrument into the blood vessel to the heart to look for blockages. With the aid of radiation such issues become visible. If a significant blockage is found a stent is inserted to widen the passage. When Iowa Heart began this in the 1980s they may have done 1 or 2 per day. If they did 3 per day a pizza party was ordered for the doctors and nurses. Now up to 20 per day are performed. My doctor was the founder of this at Mercy.
Two things I did not like about this. 1, I was not to be unconscious. Had to be awake for the whole thing. I was giving meds to keep me calm and pain free but I was aware and that bothered me. 2, Doc likes to go through the groin and not the arm. Bigger vein and he can see more of my innards.
6 or 7 people were in there. KGGO was the radio station. I remember Free Bird and some AC/DC. The ceiling was stained. Many computer monitors were above me. Perhaps they let me look at them. Supposedly an amnesia drug was given to me but I did have a Xanax like drug before I was wheeled in. I do remember the Novocaine shot which hurt like any shot does but that was it for pain except one other.
When they were almost done I could feel something on my heart. They said they placed a stent in. 70% blockage. They said that it was not placed in the "widow maker," not a comforting notion. Then the real pain. They had to plug the hole in my groin, the hole in the blood vessel they used to travel up me. Great pressure. I don't know what they used but it felt like they shoved something under my skin and applied super pressure to make sure it stayed.
I was then wheeled out to recovery and a few hours later was asked to get out of bed and walk around, use the restroom if necessary but do not force a #2 because the wound might come undone and I'D BLEED OUT.
They let me go after that. Told to pick up another medicine that would prevent the stent from be covered up by my body's defenses. One year. of this. Expect bruising and longer than normal bleeding.
Took some Tylenol last night. Anything else would mess with the kidneys. Getting up and down is a bit slow. And coughing, good grief it hurts to cough. So damn lucky a cold caught me a few days ago.
Because of the dye I need to flush my system very thoroughly. This means drink a lot of water. So once again I am getting out of ed every two hours. 2 nights in a row of this. Tuesday they had me drink 6 glasses of water in preparation of the procedure. Getting old but I need to save my kidneys.
I owe my life to bicycling. Honestly, it has kept me in good shape. Kept my heart strong enough to survive this stress. Without biking I little doubt that I would have had a heart attack and possibly died.