Second Heart Attack and a Stroke!
I retired from the US Navy in January 1996 and had my first heart attack 3 months later, while I was working in Sasebo Japan. I realized that I need to change certain things in my life for my young 10 month old daughter, so I gave up smoking cigarettes, stopped drinking coffee and beer and decided that I need to eat nutritional food.
Life was good for me for a number of years. Then, my daughter went to college in August 2013 and I was an empty nester. One month later, I was ready to go to sleep and my back and shoulder were amazingly painful. I laid down and at that point I realized I was having another heart attack. I thought I was smart and had a bag already for me to go to the hospital, filled up with my laptop and phones and clothes. Instead of calling 911, I drove to the hospital which is only less than 2 miles away. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT! I barely made it. The nurses were wonderful when I arrived and they asked why I was there. I told them I was having a heart attack and they quickly checked me in and sure enough, they said I was on my way to surgery. While getting there, I told them I was not going to make it, but they said I would. The last thing I remember at that point was that my dinner was on the floor and I was blacking out. When I woke up, the nurse said “Congratulations, you did it.” I mumbled some stuff as this was now 3 hours later when I left my home and I was totally incoherent. The nurse stated it was probably the drug and to relax while she took me to intensive care
When I woke up in the morning, I realized I was late for work and pushed the button to get the nurse. I somehow asked for my bag so I could get my work phone, but I couldn’t remember my bosses name. So I saw the recent numbers and found and called his number. I said some weird noise wanting to tell him I had a heart attack and wouldn’t be at work today, and quickly gave the nurse the phone so he could give him my information. I went back to sleep, still thinking I was on some really good drugs. Little did I know, when my doctor came in a few hours later, that I couldn’t talk nor think.
My doctor sent me out for some additional testing to only find out that I had suffered a stroke involving the left lateral temporal lobe of the brain which was described by my doctor as “relatively large measuring 9cm anterior to posterior”. Lucky me! I not only had a heart attack, but I also had a stroke. A double whammy! I quickly called my nephew in Connecticut to let him know what was going on, as best as I could and specifically told him NOT to call my daughter as she had an exam that day and I would try to talk with her later in the day.
I realized I couldn’t talk nor remember simple things such as where I lived or the state, so I quickly tried to remember all the states of the United States as well as their capitals. It took me 2 days to even try to remember half that. I was also trying to remember other things like what am I going to do with the rest of my life. After trying to talk with my daughter, I convinced her to please stay at school and I would be fine. She was in the rowing team at school and I told her I would be there to see one of her regatta’s, but that I wouldn’t be driving nor my speech would be difficult.
It is now 4 years since my incidents and I am living at Cape Cod, close to family and friends, I am a svelt 195 pounds working out 4-5 days a week, I had my latest blood test and ALL my numbers are within tolerance and the doctor said to keep it up. And I will, ensuring I am eating healthy and making sure I don’t have another heart attack nor stork.
I am so thankful to all the nurses and doctors, rehab trainers and my speech therapist and of course my family and friends who helped me make sure I can go forward with a reasonable quality of life.