“Some storms are not in the forecast“, as Joyce Meyer often says. They may be unexpected storms like the one our family experienced a few weeks ago. This is the story of a heart attack that took a normal day and turned it upside down.
How It Began
My husband Robby is a very active and healthy man. He is former military and so exercise and hard work are nothing new to him. He has prediabetes and we control that with diet and oral medication.
Robby is a man of action and there is no DIY project that he won’t take on. A week before the heart attack, Robby began to feel some tightness in his chest and shortness of breath. This was unusual for him but since there was no pain or radiating pain in his arm, he thought nothing of it.
In fact, the symptoms are much like that of COVID and we thought that may be a possibility. He felt this tightness in his chest a few more times and decided to drop by the clinic at his workplace.
Upon arriving at the clinic, the staff took blood samples and ran an EKG which showed a potential blockage and enzymes that indicate a possible heart attack. This was a complete surprise to Robby. He was immediately taken by ambulance to the local hospital. An unexpected storm was upon us.
The hospital emergency room does not have a cardiologist on call so the plan was to stabilize then transfer him to a larger hospital in our town. Robby texted me the news and of course I was in shock.
I could not believe that he may have had a heart attack because the typical symptoms were not present. Thursday evening had drastically changed. My goal now was to support him as we wait for next steps.
A dear friend and co-worker stayed with Robby until he was transferred to our home town facility. This transfer happened around midnight and we were fortunate to get a room because the hospital is overflowing with COVID patients.
Because of strict COVID restrictions regarding visiting, and the fact that Robby was stable and in good care, I waited until the next morning to arrive at his room. I found him hungry but in good spirits. He had no continuing symptoms of tightness or shortness of breath.
The next step was to see the cardiologist and likely have a heart cath procedure. We saw no one but nurses for several hours and finally a hospitalist came in and got things moving.
We went from nothing happening to everything happening in a matter of an hour. An echocardiogram was performed and then Robby was sent to the cath lab. Approximately 2 hours later and he was in the recovery room having received 2 stents to open a 90% blockage in one artery.
This news was both surprising and relieving. The doctor showed me the before and after pictures of his arteries and the result was stunning. The blocked artery was fully open and the other arteries were completely fine.
Whew! There was no permanent damage and Robby will completely recover! That’s good news. The unexpected storm is passing.
What We Didn’t Know
Likely everyone has seen some kind of commercial relating facts about heart attacks. What I didn’t know is that the word heart attack can be broad in its definition. Some heart attacks cause damage to the heart muscle and others do not. Robby was fortunate in that his heart attack caused no permanent damage to the heart muscle.
Secondly, the blockage was not produced over time through the collection of cholesterol. The doctor informed us that this kind of blockage comes on fast, usually in a matter of days or weeks. Honestly, this was a scary statement.
This information explained why in just a matter of a week, he had gone from completely healthy to experiencing tightness in his chest and shortness of breath. We truly had no other indications of a problem.
With great joy, Robby was dismissed from the hospital by noon on Saturday. Loaded up with 5 new prescriptions we proceeded home. The agenda for the rest of the day was resting and watching college football.
Robby is doing well. He has worked from home for a week and is now returning to his office. He will be able to drop some of the new meds over the next year. But for now, we both work to make sure the right pills are taken at the correct time. Guess we may need one of those “cool” pill boxes to keep it all straight! LOL
Robby and I are grateful for the care he received by the medical staff at both hospitals. COVID has made this an unusual time to have an emergency. Room was made for him and the quick response allowed for the problem to be resolved without major surgery.
It is in the unexpected storms that we find community to be our greatest help. Picking up his truck from work, feeding and taking out my dog, counsel and advice from nurse and doctor friends, this is the support that helps you through.
I want to say thank you to our family who took care of tasks. Thank you to Robby’s friend who stayed with him when I couldn’t be there. To our doctor and nurse friends who kept me informed and offered counsel, you were a God send. Our “small group” communities, your prayers made a difference. We are thankful and blessed to have you all in our lives.
Lastly – No Really!
There is a reason that heart attacks are called the silent killer. Had Robby not have chosen to go to the clinic that Thursday, he was headed for a major heart attack, one that could have killed him.
Here’s a link to the American Heart Association website. You will find valuable information about symptoms and heart health. Information is the first step in prevention.
I wish you all a healthy heart and many blessings!