Na, Du bist nicht mehr der Jüngste

I had an interesting New Year’s. At around noon M and I went to lunch in Mältzer’s with Angela and her new boyfriend, Steffen. I ordered a Milchkaffe and a pizza. When I was done eating I had a heart attack. No shit.

It was very mild. I didn’t pass out or fall down or anything but it was certainly very uncomfortable, not to mention scary. Symptoms included numbing pain on the underside of my left arm that spread out across my chest, difficulty breathing and breaking out in heavy sweat. I could feel my heart beating very forcefully in my chest. Angela suggested going to the doctor if it got worse. A few minutes later I stood up and said that something was wrong and that I had to get out of there.

I had this feeling for a couple days before but didn’t think it had anything to do with my heart. I was sick on the 26th with a stomach flu and spent the next few days in bed. I had thought that I got a pinched a nerve from lying in bed for 3 days. When the feeling in my arm first appeared, it was accompanied with fever so I thought it was a combination of pinched nerve and residual flu symptoms. On Friday I went back to work and while at my desk I had the same thing happen; pain in my arm and slight fever. I went home, took a pain reliever and it was better within the hour.

Saturday was different. After I had gotten outside where it was cooler, I had already started to feel a bit better but it was still really uncomfortable. We said goodbye to our friends and headed to an emergency station. They weren’t open yet but when we explained what the problem was they let us come in while they called a doctor. After the 30 minutes it took for the doctor to figure out how to turn on the EKG machine (ahem…switch on the powerstrip) and crack my back (he was a chiropractor; Oh you got a heart attack? I’ve got just the thing. Crik-ik-ik-ik), we finally got a read-out. By this time I was feeling much better, no doubt because of my spinal realignment (sarcasm). The doctor looked at it and said that the heart was beating steadily and strong but that something about it looked funny.

He took us to the real emergency room where they took some blood, did some quick tests and another EKG. They determined there was indeed something wrong and that I would be spending New Year’s Eve in intensive care hooked up to a heart monitor. A few minutes later they had their heart specialist come in and do a heart catheterization to determine if there was any blockage on the heart that needed to be removed immediately.

For those that don’t know, a heart catheterization, in its simplest form, entails making a small incision in your groin into the vain that leads directly up to your heart. They stick a long thin hose into the vain and shove it all the way up and around into the heart. You’d think there would be a shorter way to the heart but I was not in the mood, condition or position to argue. They spray some dye or something into the heart and with the use of an x-ray machine they can determine if there is some blockage somewhere causing the problem. I was pretty scared but in hindsight there was no reason to be as it is a really simple procedure.

They found no blockage whatsoever. Now they are trying to determine what caused it (probably a blood clot) and why (still unknown). I’ve had numerous EKGs and blood tests. Yesterday I had an echocardiogram which showed everything being OK. Tomorrow I am supposed to have an internal echocardiogram which entails putting wires and hoses down my throat into my stomach in order to get a good look at the backside of my heart. This will help to determine if there is possibly a small hole in the wall between the left and right ventricles. This may be what has caused the blood clot. If there is a hole, I don’t know what the next step is.

They said that it is probably not caused by my lifestyle. I’m only 29. I rarely eat fast-food. I eat pretty healthy. I’m not a heavy drinker. I should get some more exercise. I’m a bit overweight but not obese by any stretch of the word. The one bad thing I do is smoke, but not heavily. I can stretch a pack of smokes out for about 2 weeks. That is if I buy my own. Anybody that knows me, knows that I am the biggest cigarette moocher there is. However, as any doctor will tell you, smoking a little is already too much. I bet you can guess what my New Year’s resolution is.

More to come…