Heart Attack At 47
by William Wegner
(Des Moines, Iowa)
I've eaten badly all my life. Too big of portions, too much fried food, too much soda and chocolate. My Dad's father died of of a HA when he was also 47.
My attack occurred working out on a treadmill. Although not horribly over weight (6 foot 225 pounds) I had been working out pretty regularly over the past 9 months and feeling better. That doesn't mean I had changed my eating habits.
One morning before work I was on the treadmill and I felt this awful pressure and pain right in the middle of my chest. It went away after I stopped, but when I went into work I just didn't feel right. So I drove myself to the emergency room and things started happening really fast. An angioplasty revealed more blockage that could be fixed with a stent, so I was scheduled for bypass surgery the next morning. The folks, doctors, etc. at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines were all great. I received info on what was going to happen, and how it would be after I woke up.
The waking up part was by far the worst. The breathing tube was virtually unbearable and the overall pain was quite severe. Luckily I had many friends and family over the next five days to help me through everything. Friends and relatives came from all over. It was quite amazing.
I ended up having 5 bypasses and went home in 6 days...those initial days in the hospital of getting out of bed and walking were not fun. My folks were kind enough to stay with me for three weeks once I got home which was a great help. I learned to eat better and take overall better care of myself.
I went to cardiac rehab which was helpful and now I am prepared to go back to
work 8 weeks after surgery. Luckily I have a job and insurance which took care of most of the cost, as the charges were quite eye opening and mouth dropping, never having been in a hospital before.
I feel pretty great now except for some residual pain around the scar and incision. I'm working out at higher levels that I was before as the surgeon has given me the ok to start running again. My short term goal is running a 5K here in about 5 weeks. Just finishing, not trying to set a PR or anything.
The strange thing about the overall experience is that the night before the surgery, when I had plenty of time to think about life's big questions, I wasn't really worried. I guess I felt if it was my time it was my time.
Another fairly strange thing was that was when I was moved from the critical cardiac unit to a regular room I guess I blacked out for a second moving into the wheelchair. During that time I was walking on a beautiful beach and I felt I had no hurries or worries in the world. It seemed to go on for a while like most dreams do, but the nurse that shook me back to reality said I was out just a second.
So I don't know what that means, but I found it kind of wild.
So, to all that might go through or have been through this, it does get better in time. Knowing that I've got blood moving through me better now does not leave me thinking of having another HA. It's just important to start taking better care of yourself before and/or after. Take your meds, eat smaller portions, lower fatty foods, eat more chicken and fish, and don't forget those fruits and vegetables.