Your Health is Your Wealth

Be Heart Healthy

So even though my tag line for The Stented Papa reads ‘Tales, Stories & Opinions from a (new) Stay-At-Home-Dad, The Missus, Our 2 Beautiful Girls, The Woofie and oh yeah…..My 4 Stents’ it’s just dawned on me that I very seldom actually write about my stents. Or my heart disease (angina) in general if I’m honest.

I guess that’s because I’ve told myself to write with humour where possible and well let’s be honest here, there is wack all funny about heart disease &/or stents!

Where am I?

So I’ve started this post from the Chest Pain Unit in the ED (Emergency Dept) in St. Vincents Hospital. It’s Thursday evening and I’ve been here since 2.30pm.

All I can say is thank fuck for the internet cause I’m absolutely bored shitless. There’s only so many times you can count the wooden panels through the window before your head falls off.

Why am I here?

Well I’ve been getting chest pains for last 2 wks ish. But they became too severe and I wasn’t comfortable with them anymore so I made the call and went in.

First question I was asked when I told them that was ‘Why did you leave it for 2 weeks to come into us?‘ That’s a fair question actually.

It’s a tough one to call is the real reason & I struggle with it. Yes I’m a cardiac patient so yes I should always air on the side of caution but at the same time, you don’t want to push the panic button unnecessarily.

That said, you don’t want to be the idiot who does nothing and becomes tomorrows news. I’m a year and a half at this crack (i.e. dealing with heart disease) and I still don’t know when to call it.

Truth is I did go into hospital a few days ago. However it was into Mullingar General Hospital so this was my 2nd time in hospital in the last 5 days.

The Mrs. was in San Fran for the week with work and when she’s gone, I normally bring the nips down to see their Grandad in Longford. The pains had been getting stronger and on the day we were due to come home, I wasn’t comfortable with the level of pain.

I had numbness / pins & needles in my left arm and I’d pain & pressure in my chest. Breathing was also a bit harder than normal. All normal indications of my angina so I called 999 and an ambulance was sent out for me.

Brilliant – really thought I was past all this shit. Nadda.

What is angina exactly?

In layman’s terms – Angina is caused by the narrowing of an artery in your heart. This causes restricted blood flow which leads to chest / arm / jaw pains.  Best case ex. The pains are nothing to do with the heart & could be gastritis or muscle pain. Worse case ex. is a heart attack or failure & death (just read about the late, great Muster & Irish rugby No.8 Anthony Foley). If it happens with your brain, it’s a stroke. Serious shit like.

What did I do?

First off, I used my GNT spray. 2 squirts under the tongue and (try to) relax. The spray helps to open up your arteries so additional blood can get through which should help with the pains. But this time it didn’t help really. (It can however give you a bad headache which is what happened).

So I decided it was better to go in while the nips where with their Grandad as opposed to me driving them back and having to call an ambulance half way home. So I called 999 and they sent an ambulance.

What did they do?

Be Heart HealthyBoth hospitals kept my in overnight and they ran all the usual tests. Bloods / Chest X-Ray’s / ECG’s / Blood Pressure etc etc. All tests were clear, both times – thank fuck.

Mullingar put me on a new tab called ‘Nexium’ which is to help (possible) gastritis. I’ve learned this can cause very similar chest pains as the heart can. New one on me. Vincent’s put me on a ‘Beta-Blocker’ which helps to slow my heart rate down to approx 60 bpm (was around 72 bpm when in hospital).

Luckily for me, the on-call cardiologist for the ED dept that week was my own cardiologist! He reassured me that everything was fine with my heart. He’s one of the best cardiologists in the country and I really trust his judgement.

Blocked Artery

In January I had my annual checkup in the form of an angiogram to see if the stents were working as they should be & to ensure there has been no blockages re-forming in my heart. Thankfully they were perfect.

However, he confirmed a minor artery was blocked more than it was last year – 70% blocked. But he wanted to send me for an MRI to back it up. This is to see weather I need another stent or not.

The decision was I don’t – at least not yet anyway. They will only insert a stent into your heart if it is absolutely necessary and right now, they are saying that’s not the case.

My mindset is to get the stent cause then I’m 100%. Plus I’m going to need it at some stage in the not too distant future but then again I’m not a cardiologist. There are also real dangers when you are working on someones heart so I’m trusting them absolutely and their advice.

I’m in the best of hands and am looking forward to getting back to being fully healthy.

Thank you!

In all the times I’ve been in hospital over the last 18 months – and believe me that’s been a shit load – I’ve never posted about it over social media. But I did this time. Why? Because blogging is about real life and how I see it and this was as real life as it gets. Plus I see myself as a real blogger now and in the past that wasn’t the case.

But the level of messages & support I got was just unreal. As I was lying there, all the messages made me happy. And when you’re lying there for 36 hours, that’s a lovely distraction so thank you all so much.






2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m glad you’re past the doubt (and hospital) part. I’ve always maintained that coping with heart disease requires a mental fortitude that can only be acquired through experience. There is a point at which the “call” has to be made but suffering from heightened anxiety because of doubt only clouds what really might or might not be happening with your heart. You need to be able to shake that off and really assess how you feel.

    My approach is to go for a brisk walk that borders on a light jog. If things start to feel worst because of the exercise, I call an ambulance. If it doesn’t change or gets better, I complete my walk safe in the knowledge that it was a false alarm. Being aware of what might have brought it on is also very important. Don’t be surprised if you get the pains after eating a five-meat 16″ pizza. 😛

    I’m also switching my statin medication from Rosuvastatin because one of the fantastic side effects of this wonder-drug is… …muscle pain in your shoulders and chest. I’ve put up with it for two years but I’m done with it now. Anyway, glad your back!! 🙂

    1. Great comment David. Apologies for the delay! I agree 100% with you – on the mental toughness / anxiety / making (or not as the case may be) the call and in particular the exercise. I remember when I was in the cardio rehab, I was told if you’ve pain which doesn’t get any worse when exercising & in actual fact, for me the pain reduced during exercise, they you can be 99.9% sure it’s not your ticker. This then relaxes your brain from thinking ‘WTF is going on here?!’ to ‘OK, use your logical thinking here & breath’ etc. Not just your brain, but also your heart rate! Mindfulness also really helps IMO. Thanks a million for reading & commenting. Really appreciate it. Cheers, Ross

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