It's taken a while but I am finally ready to share the life-changing experience I had earlier this month. On Friday evening, January 4, I was woken from sleep by intensely sharp pain in my chest. My immediate thought was, "This isn't right." I dialed 911 and within a few minutes, though it seemed an eternity, EMS arrived and I was loaded into the ambulance.
I recall telling the EMT that the pain had slightly decreased. The next thing I knew I was waking up, confused and agitated. In an instant I remembered where I was, and had the thought, "Wow, I actually fell asleep." Then one of the faces leaning over me said, "You're okay. Your heart stopped, but we got it going again." (In retrospect, the part after "but" was obvious, although I am still glad he specified.)
The cardiologist met us at the hospital and I was taken right into the cath lab to have a stent inserted in my occluded left anterior descending artery — the "widow maker." The next 24 hours were spent juggling pharmaceuticals to get my heart rhythm normalized. I was then cleared to move to "step down" care. Unfortunately, there were zero available beds in the hospital. So I spent the next two days stuck in ICU. That experience could be fodder for future musings. Suffice it to say, the ICU is not designed for patients who are conscious. (I've recently learned there is such a thing as ICU psychosis.)
The last couple weeks have been a roller coaster of physical and emotional trials. Writing an entry for this blog is somewhat cathartic. Medicines are still being adjusted and I'll soon start physical therapy to get my strength back. There is still more time to pass before I return to my previous work and play routines. Obviously, I am looking forward to getting back to the range, to enjoying good drink and good cigars. It goes against my nature to be idle, but I am working hard to be patient and allow my body, and mind, recover.
Looking back, I realize just how very fortunate I was. The ambulance had not even left my driveway when I went into cardiac arrest. I am thankful the emergency personnel arrived as quickly as they did. As I have been reminded numerous times since, the outcome might have been quite different otherwise.
I feel extremely thankful and blessed to be here now. It obviously wasn't time for me to go. It wasn't time for my wife to lose her husband. It wasn't time for my son to lose his father. Nonetheless, it was a poignant reminder that we do not know when our time in this life will be up, and must always prepare well. There is no room for, "I'll get to that later." I am very thankful for the ongoing support of my family and friends throughout this ordeal. I've also realized that some things that were important to me before seem less so now.
So there you have it. Posting will be sparse for a while. I have accepted that this will be a long-term process, not a quick turnaround.
I survived the "Widow Maker." I have that going for me.