I have a feeling that once we get to the other side of this pandemic, we’ll be ok. Having survived the worst of what can happen to a person, I walked away feeling like I’ve dodged a bullet with my name on it. This may very well be so for the majority of us that are now struggling through this issue of a pandemic and are lost for a solution.
My Personal Story
While everyone else was worried about a virus, there was a more personal issue brewing within me. I say this to say that in spite of the doom and gloom that at times surround us, things could be worst and by some miracle of life, we endure. Here is my story. Unbeknown to me, I was looking at a silent killer in the form of Coronary artery disease during the worst of this pandemic. This monster laid dormant in my chest until the early days of April and early May 2020. It was then that I started showing signs that something was horribly wrong with me and I did not know what.
The Silent Killer
A coronary heart disease (CHD), involves the reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle due to the build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart. It is the most common of the cardiovascular diseases. A common symptom is chest pain or discomfort which may travel into the shoulder, arm, back, neck, or jaw. Occasionally it may feel like heartburn. Usually, symptoms occur with exercise or emotional stress, last less than a few minutes, and improves with rest. Shortness of breath may also occur and sometimes no symptoms are present as in my case. In many cases, the first sign is a heart attack, thus the silent killer. Other complications include heart failure or an abnormal heartbeat none of which were present with me.
First Indications That Something was not OK…
Around the early days of April 2020 and at the very early stages of the Corona Pandemic, I started having severe bouts of fatigue with limited breathing episodes and severe swelling of the legs. I could not catch my breath nor could I sleep. Some days were better than others but in general, healthwise, I was going downhill quickly. During these same days, the TV news was advising not to go to the emergency room unless you had three of the Corona Virus symptoms. They were shortness of breath (yes in my case), High fever (no in my case), and coughing (also no in my case). So I had one of the three requirements for going to the ER, so I stayed home.
A voice within me…said GO…
The week of April 20th, my breathing became unbearable and I went to my doctor and he prescribed some inhalers thinking that I had acquired a respiratory infection of some kind. I used the inhalers for a while which made me feel a little better for short periods of time. As the week progressed my condition worsen. On the morning of April 30th, 2020, my health had deteriorated so much that I could no longer sustain normal breathing and an inner voice said to “go to the ER now”. I asked my wife to drive me to the hospital and at 7:00 AM I entered the ER.
The Reveal… Not Good News
In the emergency room, I was quickly diagnosed and tagged as a coronary case. I was admitted and a team of doctors began the arduous task of stabilization and treatment of my immediate condition, that of shortness of breath. My cardiologist was contacted and a plan for treatment was quickly developed. I was tagged for a quick look into my heart through a procedure using a camera to look inside my arteries and heart. The hope was than any blockage could be fixed through a procedure called angioplasty. However, that was not to be. There was no doubt that the only remedy left for me was open-heart surgery and the cardiologist and surgeon agreed that it would be a triple by-pass or better.
CABG – X5
This procedure was supposed to be a triple by-pass and it ended up being a quintuplet by-pass with three arteries blocked at 100% and two blocked at 80%. The surgery took 4 hours. My surgeon said that he basically placed my heart on my chest and began to graf in the arteries that were harvested from my right leg. After the procedure, I was taken to recovery where I woke up still hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machines. After two hours I was unplugged and able to sit and took a short walk. I was alive and doing well.
The Future Looks Bright
Being made whole by this surgical intervention. I am up and doing things I thought were not possible anymore. Having been given a new lease on life, I feel that no matter how gloomy life looks for you, there is the hope of a better tomorrow. There are people out there that are ready and willing to lend a hand to get you back on your feet. All you need to do is to have faith. Soldier on and push forward. I continue to believe that after this pandemic, we’ll be ok.