Heart Attack... I was only 35!
Andrew's Story

I was 35, and 220lbs. Not very active but had lots of stresses, and spent most of the time in my car or at the computer eating junk...I also smoked heavily.

One day after a particularly stressful meeting, I grabbed a triple burger on the way home, wolfed it down as life goes and proceeded on my way. After arriving home I took my son out to the park. It was on our way back that I noticed I had what seemed to be a case of bad indigestion. I would rub my chest and complain a little but we’d keep walking. After lighting another cigarette the pain came back and was now worse. I had to stop and kind of bend over a bit. My son was only 2 so he knew no different, but once the pain subsided we carried on. The pain would only last say a minute or two. Once we got home I put him to bed and I lay down on the couch and fell asleep. When my wife arrived home I woke up and told her about this horrible indigestion I had and she said...well I guess so, eating the way I do and as fast as I do.

This can't be happening to me!

It was already late (my wife worked in the restaurant business) so we headed off to bed. The next morning I woke up feeling fine, got ready as usual, and headed off to work. While driving in I had another cigarette and the pain came back...and now it started to freak me out a little, but to work I went. After a couple hours at work I went for another smoke and started to feel the pain again. At that time a colleague said don’t take any chances and go to the hospital, so I hummed and hawed and drove myself down to the hospital thinking that there is no way I was having a heart attack. I even stopped at a red light and looked over at the car beside me, and there in the car was a male, so large that he could barely steer. I took the naive approach and said to myself that if he can be fine (he was also smoking) then there was no way I was having a heart attack.

This was the real thing... I was having a heart attack

There was no heart disease in our family and no known issues with cholesterol and such things...(so I thought). When I arrived at the emerg I told them how I was feeling and they brought me into the trauma room and hooked me up to the machines and did an electrocardiogram, but at the time it showed nothing. They took some blood and after a half an hour put me out in the hall way sitting on a gurney. The doctor said it was probably some type of gastric issue and gave me some heavy duty stomach meds. I wanted to believe him so I didn’t say anything else. The pain came back - this time so severe I could not take it. I saw the doctor and raised my hand and as soon as he saw me and my expression, he laid me down and rushed me back into the trauma room. He told me I was having a heart attack.

I was floored to say the least, but also in a state of panic, disbelief, and most of all PAIN, Lots of PAIN. I told the doctor as they were working on me that I could still feel the pain, he then ordered morphine for me. I started to feel this very weird warm feeling literally climbing up from my feet. I thought this was the feeling of dying, and that it would soon reach my heart and I would be dead. I reached up to the doctor and started to say “help” in a panicky voice. He looked down at me and said...”It’s okay it’s just the morphine,” as if he knew all along what I was indeed going through and feeling. Just then wooossshhhh, the morphine took over me and I was numb. For the next half hour I just laid there and watched them work, and hook me up to all the machines and gizmos.

Once all was done and I was now comfy cosy in my little morphine cocoon, they started to talk to me about what happened. They wanted me to try a new drug. It would strip my blood of any clots as I was still in some danger due to the condition of my current blood cells (clotty and thick). I don’t remember what the drug was but it was a clinical trial and although could help prevent another heart attack from occurring shortly, it might also kill me because of possible bleeding to the brain....Why do they give people in these situations a decision like this? Basically I told them just save me !!!!! so they gave me the drug. Afterwards I found out the doctors referred to it as Draino for your blood.

I quit smoking

So after this I spent 13 days in ICU, while they let me rest and kick my smoking habit. Literally after that scare and 13 days in the ICU, I have never smoked or needed to since...now going on 9 years. Yeehaw!!!!

It was hard adjusting to my new life: no salt, no fat, no taste.....but the hardest thing I had to come to grips with was my own admissions of mortality. You always figure you’re going to die, but until you come to the edge, or cross over it, the thought really hasn’t taken hold of you yet.

End of Part 1 in a 3 part series... stay tuned!

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