Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't make light of your symptoms

So, I was throwing up Sunday morning around 1:00 am, which I figured was my monthly gag fest due to Parkinson's Medications.  I threw up a bit, but my chest was also hurting.  I didn't take much thought in this, because I was throwing up at the time, but the chest pain continued throughout the night.  When my wife woke up around 6:00 am, I told her of both the vomiting and chest pains and she insisted that we go see a doctor. This is a normal fight between us, as when I was first having PD symptoms, I didn't want to go and when she first had back problems, she didn't want to go and see her doctor.  Nevertheless, I knew better and insisted that we go to the nearby urgent care facility instead of an emergency room or calling 911.

We arrived at Urgent Care at 8:00 am when they opened and I was third in line.  Because I was complaining of chest pain, they took me right away (ahead of the second person) and took blood and ran an EKG.  I told my wife to take the kids to Sunday school and after I was done, I'd get a cab to take me home the 1-2 miles.  Needless to say, I didn't go home.  The EKG read normal but the blood test showed an elevated level for one of the heart enzymes, specifically my Troponin level measured 0.33 which was higher than the acceptable level of 0.10.  Because of this, the urgent care doctor called the local hospital and had me admitted and sent there via ambulance.  In the mean time, I had called my wife to let her know I was being hospitalized and where I would be.  She took the kids out of Sunday school and met me there as the ambulance arrived.

Unfortunately, do to flu season, the hospital would not let kids under 14 into the patient rooms.  Therefore, a friend sat with them as we began to talk to the cardiologist on call for Superbowl Sunday.  They observed me for a few hours and then retook my blood test after eight hours later.  Everyone expected my levels to drop or stay the same because both a subsequent EKG and a ECHO cardiogram the doctor did with a handheld device showed no sign of any problem with my heart.  However, the Troponin levels actually had a 10x increase to 3.9 from the previous level of 0.33.  We were all very confused.  They scheduled me for an angiogram the next day which is  the gold standard test to see if there are any problems and told me it would occur probably around 11:30 am.  The angiogram did not occur until about 4:30 pm Monday afternoon.  However, it showed a nearly 100% blockage in my circumflex artery which they immediately cleared and placed a stent in it's place to prevent further blockages.

So, yes, I did have a heart attack at age 42.  Luckily, it was the circumflex artery and not another.  Also, the EKG and ECHO tests showed no real damage occurred to my heart.  Therefore, once again we were very lucky.  I was given an additional 3 medications to use at least for the next year as well as baby aspirin.  I am also not going to be racing in the LA Marathon next month for Team-Parkinson, but will look into another race this summer.  I was released from the hospital today, but will see my cardiologist in the next couple of weeks to do a stress test and discuss with him my future options.  Also, with the new medications (particularly the aspirin and additional blood thinner) I probably will not have an opportunity to discuss making my Deep Brain Stimulator bi-lateral.

Take care, and I hope if you get anything out of my experience, don't take new symptoms or feelings or pain lightly.  If your gut tells you there seems to be something wrong, go with it, because there just may be something wrong.

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