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I want to thank everyone for their very kind comments and well wishes. I had no idea just how uplifting it could be to know that so many are in your corner! I suspect the true meaning was to keep me from haunting anyone () but I'll take what I can get!
As I read through the posts last night, I was struck by the accuracy of Helene's reportage! She related pretty much everything I wanted her to, including my inaccuracies. This little missive is to set the record straight. Remember, ANY inaccuracies Helene posted were MY fault!

This is what happened, starting at around 8:00 a.m. January 30th ...


It was a dark and stormy night...

Oh. Wait. THATS a different story! Did anyone think I was going to be COMPLETELY serious? Anyway, I was sitting at my desk in the office when I felt the onset of a cardiac episode.
What is a "cardiac episode"? In my case, the sensations are as follows. VERY severe pressure on the chest, picture Fat Lady singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" type of pressure, tunnel vision causing the entire room to shrink to the size of a 16 oz tea glass and then beginning to lose consciousness. To be a true cardiac episode, all of this has to take place within 30 or 40 SECONDS, not an extended nights drinking!

FOCUS DAMMIT!

Welcome to MY world! I would usually have minor episodes that did not involve unconsciousness several times a day. I NEVER had more than 1 severe episode a day, until January 30th, 2012. THAT is what triggered a call to my Doctor. HIS advice? RUN, not walk, to the nearest emergency room!

Since I didn't like the nearest emergency room, I prepared for the 40 minute drive to Greensboro. I know some of you are thinking that I was nuts to take the chance on a 40 minute drive instead of 10 minutes, but I AM still here! THAT speaks for itself. So THERE!

Anyway, when I got to Moses Cone Hospital, I was admitted (eventually) and scheduled for the Cath Lab the next morning. The belief was that I would probably need a ballon angioplasty to open an artery, or perhaps something to dissolve a blood clot. No big deal.

The best laid plans of Mice and Men...

The next morning, I was prepped and taken to the Cath Lab where the all the fun was to take place. FUN. That word has so many connotations. In this case, FUN means staying awake and alert while a wire is inserted into your artery and pushed to your heart where a dye is injected to show any blockages, such as plaque or blood clot. WHOOPIE! NO BLOCKAGES!!

So what the hell was causing the problem?

Right in the middle of the procedure, my heart dropped out! It just stopped! I flatlined. Lets just pause for a moment.

Helene reported this as a "Heart Attack" because thats what I told her it was. To be strictly accurate, a "heart attack" involves the release of certain enzymes into the blood stream resulting from the death of heart cells. So I did NOT have a "heart attack" on the table. I had what is called an "event".

HMMMM?

An "event" is what happens to someone else, a "heart attack" is what happens to YOU!

A football game is an "event". The SuperBowl is a "Heart Attack"!

Anyway, while I was watching my "event" unfold, I was struck by the surprise and concern of the medical staff! I tried to reassure them that this kind of thing happened to me all the time. Hell, I was used to it!

It turned out that THIS was exactly what they needed to properly diagnose my problem.

Here is more medical stuff. Everyone has a nerve that runs from the top of the heart to the bottom. This nerve transmits a signal that lets the top and bottom of the heart stay synchronized so after the top has closed, the bottom can open. In MY case, my heart is like an old married couple. They could not agree on a damn thing! A large part of the time, the top part would beat furiously while the bottom part of my heart had a largely lackadaisical attitude towards a career path!

So, here I am, in the Cath Lab and we have just figured out that I needed a pace maker. I am taking some of the credit here since it was MY HEART that helped to solve the mystery!

Lets fast forward to later on the same day.

Did you know that a pacemaker is considered a MINOR procedure now? Me neither.

Here I am, in the Cath Lab, all dressed up and no place to go!
They are pumping oxygen into me, I am loaded with the joy juice, but I am awake and semi alert. The "minor" procedure starts. An incision is made in my shoulder that is about 4 inches long and the leads for the pacemaker are inserted through the artery into the heart. The pacemaker is next. PAUSE.

REMEMBER THIS PART! I saw the pacemaker. It is about the size of a silver dollar and about as thick as 2 silver dollars.

Hit PLAY again.

The leads are in place, I am awake and cracking jokes with the staff that are willing to listen to me when all of a sudden, another "event"! What makes this event special is that I was NOT hooked up to the pacemaker. My heart had to be "paced" externally. What is the difference you ask? The pacemaker is like a very small sip of Rothschilde '58 wafting lightly across the tongue. External pacing is like slamming back shots of rotgut while chewing on rat jerky. A subtle, but noticeable difference!

The pain was incredible! I went instantly from comfortably buzzed to INSTANTLY sober and feeling every fiber of my heart screaming out! I had to be paced about 12 or 13 times before my heart would beat on its own, every pace taking about a year to pass! (I KNOW it didn't take a year, but its MY story! This is called Poetic License!)

After this, it didn't matter how much joy juice was pumped into me. The adrenalin pretty well countered that!

Technically, I had flatlined.

After this "event" was controlled, everything went pretty smoothly after that. I do have one question though.

I saw the pacemaker. I have described its size with some accuracy. Why then does it feel like someone has stuck the spare tire from a Peterbuilt in my shoulder?

Thats pretty much my story. I am at home and unable to sleep because I had to thank all of my friends here. You also tell your friends everything that happened.

If you have any questions, just ask.

Hell, you might even get an answer!
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  1. jcottone45's Avatar
    Hi Pete, I am very glad to hear that your recuperating at home hopefully get back to normal asap, well normal for you is what you make of it.
    I can relate to your description of events, though I didn't have a heart attack I watched them go in thru my groin into my heart & place 2 stents in the right side of my heart (they're actually not in the heart) but in the artery that was 99% blocked. I had no idea it was blocked until I felt that 500 lb gorilla sitting on my chest & breathing was not happening. It turns out that was from an ulcer but if it didn't happen they never would have known of the blockage which would have just killed me instantly without warning.
    I can tell you if you want to continue taking those beautiful pictures & artwork you better behave ( not like me) anyway. I did enjoy watching them work in my heart hell the valves actually look like carburator valves!! I told the doctor while he was dispensing stents to see if he could put a few some where else in my body can't mention where here but you will know & he didn't understand why, I guess when your a nerd it doesn't matter but he did save my life as he put it time was running short.!!
    Since that time July 9 2005 I've had 2 virus's around my heart I don't remember the medical term but that was worse than the procedure to isert the stents. So be careful & do as the nerds say.!!!
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    Updated 02-02-2012 at 02:57 PM by jcottone45
  2. stamatisg2002's Avatar
    No cute nurses photos then? I'm a bit disappointed....
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  3. Carolina Photo Guy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jcottone45
    Hi Pete, I am very glad to hear that your recuperating at home hopefully get back to normal asap, well normal for you is what you make of it.
    I can relate to your description of events, though I didn't have a heart attack I watched them go in thru my groin into my heart & place 2 stents in the right side of my heart (they're actually not in the heart) but in the artery that was 99% blocked. I had no idea it was blocked until I felt that 500 lb gorilla sitting on my chest & breathing was not happening. It turns out that was from an ulcer but if it didn't happen they never would have known of the blockage which would have just killed me instantly without warning.
    I can tell you if you want to continue taking those beautiful pictures & artwork you better behave ( not like me) anyway. I did enjoy watching them work in my heart hell the valves actually look like carburator valves!! I told the doctor while he was dispensing stents to see if he could put a few some where else in my body can't mention where here but you will know & he didn't understand why, I guess when your a nerd it doesn't matter but he did save my life as he put it time was running short.!!
    Since that time July 9 2005 I've had 2 virus's around my heart I don't remember the medical term but that was worse than the procedure to isert the stents. So be careful & do as the nerds say.!!!
    I never thought of it before, but you're right! The valves remind me of the Solex downdraft carbs used on the 3.8 liter '63 Jag Mark X!

    I understand the stent thing, but you gotta remember something. Most true nerds have given up on losing their virginity by the time they get to the 5th grade!

    He actually had no frame of reference for what you were talking about!

    I'm glad we both lived.

    Talk at ya later Dude.
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  4. Carolina Photo Guy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by stamatisg2002
    No cute nurses photos then? I'm a bit disappointed....
    I NEVER said there were no photos.

    They are MINE!!! ALL MINE!!!
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  5. stamatisg2002's Avatar
    Gee, Pete, don't get hyped, or you'll burn something.
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  6. Sambr's Avatar
    Just glad you're back and on this side of the dirt
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  7. Dave Hamilton's Avatar
    Pete,

    My first Heart Attack was in February of 2004. I didn’t wait to get to the hospital. I died in the ambulance. After getting “restarted” the fun way I went through Cath and then quadruple by-pass that same day.

    Three of my four by-passes didn’t work. They started a serries of (what was then) new procedures and about two months later I was released to go home and rest and take it easy. They offered me a disability and I said no.

    A couple procedures later I complained about pain in the groin (you understand why after this week) and they checked for a blood clot. No blood clot, but they did find a stage two tumor in my right kidney. (YEP -- CANCER!!!) Kidney had to go along with lots of other moveable parts!

    Since then I’ve have 16 or 17 angioplasty procedures. At last count I have 61 stents, and in July I had open heart #2. The recovery from this one has been hell, but I’m back at work full time. You're right about heart "events" vs "attacks". I 've now had may events, and no matter what you want to call them, I just want them to stop!

    Last month they discovered I have narrowing of the spinal canal and there will now be neck, back and spine surgery in my future.

    So my friend, the bad news is that you are a beginner in the Cardiac Event business. The good news is as follows:

    1) They have most of these procedures down to the point that they are rather routine. Yes, they make you sign lots of papers about the “chance of death”, but the highway department should make us all sign them prior to driving home during rush hour.
    2) The recovery of all the heart procedures has been made significantly easier over the past few years. Let them know what works for you, and what doesn’t. I had one medication that made me see bugs on the wall and smoke coming out of the TV, but I felt no pain!
    3) Never allow them to send you home until you feel decent, and that you can take care of yourself.
    4) Remember that you are eligible for home health care if you need it. I needed it this time and I was much better off working with them than trying to travel to my doctor for a few weeks.
    5) Take whatever the doctor says to take in the way of rest days and add 30%. You need more time than they say you do.
    6) WALK, WALK, WALK, WALK, rinse and repeat!
    7) Use other heart patients as a sounding board. We have all been there, seen it, and done it. We all "Have the T-shirt". I’ll be happy to give you my T-shirt! Soon you will be the person others ask “is this how I should feel?”
    8) Share your story with others so they know not to be afraid. The fear of going to the hospital causes too many people to wait a little while to see if the pain goes away. Had I waited a few more minutes I would have died at home! Remember that with Heart EVENTS and STROKES the first hour is the most important. Making the call to 911 saved my life.

    Let me know if I can help in any way. I can usually explain medical terms when it comes to the heart pretty well!

    Good luck to you. My prayers are with you for a full, smooth, and comfortable recovery.

    Dave
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    Updated 02-06-2012 at 05:41 AM by Dave Hamilton
  8. jengajoh's Avatar
    Wow, that was riveting, Pete. You should be a writer. I'm also glad you're ok, and home. Hopefully you'll be comfortable and healed in no time.
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  9. theregsy's Avatar
    My mother in law had the same thing they cut the nerve between top and bottom as she already had a pacemaker to keep it running. I digress, I hadn't been on for a while so had missed all the excitement! LOL
    Pete I am so glad you made it through the event, LOL just love the medical terminology, you are a key personality on this forum and I am glad you will be malingering around here a bit longer.
    Best wishes from the other side of the Atlantic hope you are up and about soon my friend and back to normal (I hesitate to accuse you of being normal) soon.
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  10. Carz4ever's Avatar
    Well Thank God it all turned out for the better. We're all glad you're still with us . But really dish out some pics of those nurses already ! geesh.

    -T
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  11. Patrick Molloy's Avatar
    Pete, so glad you're back with us. FAR too much detail !!! Eek , urgh
    what about the pics then?


    Now stay well ok?
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