May 10
popilla , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Face To Face With My Mortality

My first cardiac event was when I was 52.  I had HBP and my doctor said to call for a new prescription.  I had been traveling and called the day after I returned. During the call I noticed that I was not feeling well, the nurse advised that I go to the ER.  With in a few moments I decided to call 911 rather than wait for a ride.  Good thing I did.  Although I did not have a heart attack, test at the ER showed that I had significant blockage In my coronary arteries ( 90% in one)  and the scary moment came when the cardiologist told me that I would need bypass surgery. 

How could this be?  I was playing tennis almost everyday before my trip  and although winded, I never felt any chest pains or discomfort.
Anyway, I was scheduled for surgery and spent three days in the hospital.  The recovery from the surgery was the hardest part.  Very painful for about a week and then started to get better.  I saw marked improvements in many of my biological systems and felt 15 years younger. I completed a cardiac rehab program and was back to work in 6 months.  I still had misgivings on stressing my heart after that.  I was afraid of intense exercise.
My sense of invincibility was gone.  My mortality was staring me in the face.  I asked the doctor on a subsequent  visit what limitations i would have and he said none.  Listen to my body and be smart about my diet.  I asked about the long term prognosis for the grafts and he said depending on my lifestyle most grafts last for 10 to 12 years.  I went on with my life with a different focus...trying not to stress on things that were not important.

Well, I recently had my second cardiac event this past March, at the age of 63,  I had a heart attack and made a second visit to the ER.  I think I was in denial since October about my symptoms, but when I woke at 3AM with a heart rate of 120, it was time for 911.

I had 4 stints put in, to address the blockage and am slowly returning to normal.  Other than the physical recovery, it is the emotional recovery that is hard.  Regaining confidence in your body and trusting it carry you forward is sometimes much harder than the physical.  Adjusting to medications can be an issue as well.

I find that being grateful for the additional time, family and friends and just living in the to day.  You have to adopt a Bobby McFadden philosophy... "don't worry be happy".

I would say to  everyone that if you are having cardiac distress  signals, dial 911. Time wasted could mean heart muscle damage and a more dire situation.  Know your BP and invest in a Fitbit.  Best to all survivors!
  • Revkeener
    Im glad you're doing well. As I do for everyone you will be in my prayers. Im glad you got help in time.
  • renato
    HI popilla, me too i have had 3 by pass 15 years ago. In this case our main goal is to keep clear the new vascularizations. Warfarin,low cholesterol,ACE and betablokers are mandatory. A new coronarography every 5 years is essential to see how the tubes of our heart are. Eat well and exercise, mantain a low carbs diet. Excuse me for my english, i am italian living at at Milano. However i wish you all my best, we will pray for you Ciao, Renato
  • Kg
    Wonderful attitude. Thank you so much for sharing. Life certainly changes when we look our mortality in the face! I see everything in a new light, with more patience and compassion. I enjoy the entire day,, and share good thoughts with my family and friends. No one is taken for granted. Thank you for sharing.
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