Those who know me know that I recently had a heart attack.
I thought I’d explain what it was like, so hopefully it will put any one’s mind at rest who experiences chest pain and for any one who fears an attack.
What follows is a brief account of the experience… which I wasn’t expecting!
I’d woken about 8:30am on Monday 8 December. It was a day off and I’d pre-planned a day of fun. I was intending to install Photoshop CS4 on a new PC and then I was going to create some music using Logic and a midi-interfaced JVC30 keyboard.
I dressed and as I walked down stairs felt a pressure in my chest. I boiled a kettle for a cuppa. As I opened the eye-level cupboard door the chest pressure was increasing. This feeling wasn’t new.
I’d experienced it for the first time on Friday 05 December in the evening as I walked to meet a friend in Meadowhall. The distance from the car park to the Oasis is only about 800yards but it was enough to give me a slight worry. I even thought quite flippantly “I hope I don’t collapse with a heart attack” As I reached the meeting point it went, so I thought nothing of it.
The next day, Saturday 06 December, I raced the family up that steep hill in Lincoln without even thinking about my chest. I was always proud that I had good energy. My 16 year old and I went up Snowdon via the Miners Track three months ago. He was knackered at the end of the climb. I bragged about being 47 and not out of breath. Thinking back, there was a point when I did feel unusually faint and in need of an energy boost. I ate a chocolate bar and banana and it resolved.
Sunday 07 December went by without any problem, until I walked to the local shop to pick up some milk in the evening. On the way back I had the tightness again, but this time it was sharper and it did make me realise something wasn’t right. I mentioned it to my partner, but it disappeared again so I didn’t think any more of it that evening.
Now on the morning of the 8th, as I walked into the computer room to check the emails and web sites for messages, while the tea bag brewed, the pain was increasing. I was starting to panic. This did not feel normal. I can only describe it as the feeling you got as a kid when doing school cross country in winter. The cold air biting as you try to breathe. Imagine that and multiply the pain by 10.
My usual action with pain is to grin and bear it. I attempted this by putting on a CD and trying to relax, but the pain grew. I decided to call 999. It was a hard thing to do. I felt silly, but some voice was urging me to do it.
The ambulance arrived 5-10mins later I felt embarrassed, but they were great. I explained the felling of pain/tightness right across the chest so they connected an ECG machine and took a reading. Everything seemed stable so I apologised for “wasting their time”.
They said it was up to me if I went to the hospital to check it out. I wasn’t sure what to do. A second ECG reading caused a slightly different reaction. They decided to take me to be on the safe side.
10mins later I was in Accident and Emergency. I explained all the symptoms to Lyn (the Nurse) but there were still no signs of any major problem, and then things changed! Lyn said I was having an attack – she administered Morphine then, what seemed like seconds later, she asked if I would consent to being given a thrombolyser. Consent because the drug has risks of a stroke. I was uncertain what to do but the morphine was feeling great and a Doctor heard I was undecided and suggested I did take the Thrombolyser. Seconds later I was being injected with the drug and in process of a full heart attack…all with minimal pain. thanks to the quick-thinking team and morphine.
The team were really pleased with the outcome, especially as four other patients were admitted at the same time, all suffering heart attacks and all were looked after by the very talented (and stretched) Lyn and her team. The CCU ward was full and I had to wait about four hours in A&E until a bed came free. I wasn’t uncomfortable – morphine made sure of that.
…to be continued.
I will over the course of the coming months explain about the recover process, the diet, the medicine, the stress test, having an angiogram, and the future.