My quadruple heart bypass experience.
by Rocky Leonard
It started in 2006.
The first sign I had that there was a problem was one day my shoulder started hurting. I thought I just pulled a muscle. It was intermittent for about a year or so.
My wife and I, along with my best friend and his wife, were planning a motorcycle ride to Kentucky. About 4 or 5 days before our plan to leave, the pain disappeared. So that was great.
We went to Kentucky for 10 days, no problems at all. So, sometime after our trip, months or so, the shoulder pain started again. I was 44 years old.
Here is a little history about myself. I smoked cigarettes for 31 years at that time; I worked out, and ate healthy, very healthy. I have always been active and never used table salt. My father had heart disease and my grandfather died of a massive heart attack. So my chances of heart disease are/were higher.
Anyway, I had the shoulder pain, and ignored it. About 2008 I started having what I didn't think of as chest pain, but more of a discomfort in my chest area (my upper left chest area). I guess when I look back on it; you could say it was pressure.
I started to think I had a problem with my heart. I actually didn't want to deal with it. I was scared of dealing with it, so I pretended it wasn't so bad. I told my wife almost every day, my chest hurt. She kept telling me to go to the doctor or hospital, I refused. It was strange, I want to give a list of some of the things that I felt so everyone can understand that people have different symptoms and they not always what you think or read about.
My symptoms were, chest discomfort, that I couldn't actually describe, shoulder pain, sometimes headache, I got short winded easy, high blood pressure, here's is the one that was the strange one, I had a constant pain in my back, just below my left shoulder blade about where my heart is. There were all kinds of warning signs that I couldn't find online when I searched for the symptoms. My wife and I have 3 children with severe disabilities and I didn't realize I had as much stress in my life, until we moved up north.
We live in Michigan. Then I began to realize that I needed to find out what was wrong with me. My wife insisted I see a doctor, so I did. When I finally went to a general doctor, I explained that I had been to the emergency room twice before seeing him, and the hospital said the blood test cardio enzymes were normal, the EKG was normal and x-rays were normal, that I only had high blood pressure and anxiety. He listened to what I said, but he also said that all I had was anxiety and high blood pressure, prescribed meds for my blood pressure and made an appointment to come back. After about 4 or 5 months of visits I finally told him that I have something wrong and we need to find out what. I have a skin condition (psoriasis) and he asked me about any back pain, I told him about the heart back pain, and he asked about any other back pain. I told him sometimes I have a stiff back, but I blamed that on my bed. He then checked my knee's for reflexes and kept telling me to relax my knees (which I was) and he could find good reflex in my knees. So he started to believe me that I did have something wrong.
So my doctor kept insisting that I had anxiety and wanted me to get medication for it, I kept telling him, I wouldn't have anxiety if I didn't think I was going to die
from a heart attack. So he ordered a Nuclear Stress Test and x-rays for my back, and a lung test, because of the shortness of breath. I went for the Nuclear Stress Test and x-rays at the same time a couple weeks later. I got the results back and they said I have psoriatic arthritis in my upper and lower spine, and also what appears to be a lack of blood flow to the bottom of my heart, but the lack of blood flow was only during resting. So I went to a Cardiologist as directed. The Cardiologist read everything from the hospital, tests and doctors office, and said that from the test results and my heart being so healthy, that he believed the test was a false positive, meaning the test was wrong. But he made an appointment for Cardiac catheterization.
When I went for the Cardiac catheterization that doctor (a different doctor) said the same thing. My heart was very healthy and all the tests were showing a good healthy heart. He said that he thought there was most likely a false positive too.
Here is why I believe the test was good and not showing heart problems. Every time I had chest pain, instead of doing nothing, I walked. I walked at least 1 mile at least once a day, minimum. So that kept my heart healthy enough to keep me alive.
So anyway, the doctor put the cath in me, and snooped around for a while. I made him go through my arm for the cath. After about an hour of the Cardiac catheterization, I asked him how it looked. He replied with, "I have been doing this for over 20 years, and never seen such a healthy heart need a minimum of a triple bypass"
Every single doctor was wrong from the start, I was the only one who knew something was wrong.
So here is some of the rest of my story. This was the middle of 2010 I forgot to mention. I was scheduled for surgery in September 2010 for surgery. 3 days before surgery, the nurse called me and cancelled my date with no new date yet. After 2 weeks of waiting I started to turn grey in color, and I could smell, actually smell death emanating from me. So I called the doctors office back to no avail. Finally I said "look, I am dying, I feel death coming" she finally got me a new appointment for November 5th, 2010.
I went in the day of surgery, all went fine. I actually had to stay 7 days instead of the usual 5 days, they couldn't get my heart rate down, and finally, they let me go home. Now here it is February 9, 2011, a little over 12 weeks since surgery. Let me tell you, recovery sucks. The first 4 to 8 weeks is very uncomfortable. Pain is good and bad at times. Everything scares you. I had an infection when I first got out from the port in my left hand that traveled up my arm; I had to get meds for that too. Sneezing is the worst thing about after surgery. Every little ache and pain will seem like something terrible. I had a pulled muscle, or pinched nerve in my neck area that was so bad that I couldn't tell what or where the pain was coming from. I thought my surgery failed, till my wife rubbed the pain out of my shoulder and the pain is now gone. I am still somewhat afraid.
That is my story; I hope it helps someone with answers they can’t find elsewhere. I also will talk to anyone on the phone or facebook (Rocky Leonard) that need support. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to. Thanks for reading my story. I hope I helped someone through this tough time.