Jun 26
Udee , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Life In The Pain Lane

Before reading Katie's "welcome" e-mail, I posted this in what might have been the wrong part of the forum:

As a young man I was both physically and mentally active. Unfortunately, I was also highly self-indulgent;
lots of booze and "partying" but fortunately very little drug usage. Except that I smoked cigarettes like a
chimney (for 30 years). Then, at age 46, I had a heart attack while scuba diving in the Cayman Islands and ended up in a Florida hospital where an emergency triple bypass was performed. It changed my life totally. Although my heart apparently suffered "little damage", my physical capabilities and mental attitude totally went down the drain, and they have never fully returned to pre-event "normal".

The good news is that I progressively weened myself off booze (it now gives me only indigestion), improved my diet and found a degree of inner peace through what some call "bio-feedback", which is essentially learning to live with oneself. The bad news is I am now up to 15 prescription pills per day and nevertheless have suffered seemingly endless pains in different parts of my body since the 1990 event. In 2004 I had a "re-do" on two of the 1990 grafts (14 yrs). Over the past 3 years, the pain has centralized into chest burning during exertion. Typical  angina I am told but thorough testing including an angiogram apparently shows all grafts are open, valves etc (what I call the hardware) are all performing well and there is nothing obvious that can be fixed with surgical intervention i.e. no stents or further bypasses. So the cardiologists have just loaded me up with maximum doses of all their not-so-magic potions and essentially told me to go home and die, but keep in touch for insurance purposes.

Overall, my life is not too bad, until I try to go for a walk outside in the hot sun; 50 feet and my chest starts
burning. I can do a treadmill walk in an air conditioned room okay after just one sublingual nitro but max out at 2.5 average speed with zero elevation for 1 mile in approx 30 mins. Otherwise, the chest burning pain comes on, which freaks out the therapists at the hospital "supervised gym" that I go to but I know never leads to anything worse as long as I stop exercising when it happens. If I dare tell my cardiologist about those events and he does'nt remember me from prior visits (he must see thousands of patients annually under present insurance conditions), he just adds another pill to my drug repertoire that I sometimes wonder if the pains are drug-induced to start with...interestingly, in 2004, the thoracic surgeon who did the double graft re-do told me, after the operation, to stop taking all drugs. I did, but in no time at all, other doctors put me back on medications for specific issues like blood pressure, thinning and so on.

In summary, I have lived with cardiac "ailments" for 26 years now (1990-2016) and I just wish I could get rid of that recurring chest "discomfort" (the latest pc word for pain) so I could go for a walk in the park on a
sunny day. Obviously this is not my entire medical history all in one gulp but I welcome any comments or
questions anyone might have to offer, as I discovered some time ago that it does help to talk about these
things with other people...
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