AWB had a Heart Attack - Part 2
by: Jim McFarland , Colorado 9/11/2018
As soon as they discovered the troponin levels were high they admitted me to the hospital. With clear sign that I indeed had a heart attack the testing began in earnest. It wasn't just my hands and feet that were swollen but most of my body and this created its own problem. They struggled to draw blood. They had one IV in me and it was deteriorating and they needed to get in another. Not only that, they needed to continue testing my blood. By the second day they had poked me over twenty times and still only had the one IV. I finally had enough and told them NO in no uncertain terms, they weren't poking me any more. Remember that word 'no" should you go to the hospital.. it came in handy. Next thing I know there was this bad ass little lady with her Flight for Life vest and bag. She unzipped her bag and had an ultra sound. They had tried an ultra sound to find a vein before with no success so I was skeptical. I turned my head in exasperation, ready for another failure when I felt the cold of the gel and she announced she was done!!! WHAT!!! Yeah she was that fast and that good. By the way, apparently the Flight for Life folks tend to be small because there just isn't a lot of room on helicopters.
Now that they had blood and a better IV in me the testing continued. X-Rays every morning. Ultra sound of stomach and chest, MRI's and Cat Scans. Guess what? THEY FOUND NOTHING! In the mean time I was getting next to zero sleep as I was monitored round the clock and they kept waking me to make sure I was ok. On the 4th day this nice looking young man identified himself as a Dr and told me they needed to do an angiogram. What's an angiogram? I'm glad you asked. This is where they insert a needle into your wrist, find a vein and run a scope to your heart. I happen to inquire about the pain threshold and the nice looking young Dr said, "Oh, very minimal, we're going to apply some lidocain and phentonol." So ok on we go. They wheel me to this room and strip me naked and make me get on this small table. I suspected something was amiss when they started strapping me down. They jam the needle into my wrist and not only is it agonizing but you can hear it crunching through. I'm not ashamed to say I let out a scream. The Dr comments that I'm a big guy and should be tough. Don't know about you, but when I hurt like that I get seriously mean. I provided some very choice words while indicating the many different ways I was going to rip his face off. But those darn straps are good!
Well, on the other hand, the angiogram results showed 2 blocked arteries and the worst was one doctors literally have named the "widow maker". Next comes the cardiologist Dr Betty Kim. She explains in great detail how they're going to split my chest open, pull my heart out, take an artery from my arm and one from the left wall of my chest and then put me back together. HOLY CRAP that's scary.. BUT the geek in me was fascinated, She said they were taking an artery from my arm instead of my leg because in terms of this surgery I was a young patient. This is also when she told me my weight did not cause the heart attack but it was inherited. Please remember that if you have a family history of heart disease,
Friday 24 Aug 2018 is when they did the surgery. As they were wheeling me into OR, I distinctly remember not being afraid to die. I knew once they gave me the go go juice I wouldn't feel anything and if I didn't wake I would go painless. A very selfish thought, but true non the less. Instead of a 3.5 hour surgery it took over 6. That's where my weight comes in, the fatty tissue created problems for the surgeon. Enough so, I now have a titanium plate in my chest. On the plus side I came out of surgery fine.
You want to know what's terrifying? Waking up! Like in the movies I heard someone announce, "he's coming out of it." It was extremely disorienting, the room was spinning while people were moving everywhere. There was a giant tube down my throat and once again I was strapped so I couldn't move. Let's not forget the pain or the giant IV in my neck. My entire chest was in dire need of relief. I was terrified. I've been stabbed and even shot at and combined they do not convey the fear I had at that moment. Thank god they let The Boss and my mother into the ICU. Steph took my hand and my mother grabbed my foot and it was then I wanted to live.
The next 2.5 days were crazy with them pulling tubes out of my chest. Not to mention wires that were actually attached to my heart. They had me slated for a week at the hospital but I was released Tuesday early morning. Steph deserves tons of credit here since she stayed with me every night and tended to my every need. The staff couldn't believe how fast I was released. I also have to give huge credit to my family (mom and bro flew in from TX) and yes my old buddy Kev-o for visiting and encouraging me.
Know this is getting a bit long now, but have to take a moment to boast a little. A week after my release I was with the cardiac nurse for a follow up when Dr Kim stepped into the office to speak with the nurse. She looked at me and had a visible reaction. The good Dr couldn't believe how healthy I looked in such a short time. I can't thank Steph, my family and friends enough for their support to help make it possible. Also, the staff, nurses, and doctors at St Francis were absolutely spectacular.
Blog content © Jim McFarland
Smelly, CO 9/11/2018 4:56:05 PM
Ok, but now for the really important ?. When they gonna let you fish again ?
Kev-o, CO 9/11/2018 5:20:35 PM
Definitely a frightening experience for you my friend but you値l recover quickly and we値l be fishing again in no time. You should hurry up because I知 getting kinda bored without your constant taunting lol.
sylvan, CO 9/11/2018 7:04:21 PM
Glad to hear your on your way to a complete recovery. If you need a day on the lake just call I always have a seat open for you and the BOSS
bharper, CO 9/11/2018 7:08:21 PM
Wow! You definitely are tough having to go through all the physical as well as emotional stress on the body and already be writing a blog on the ordeal! Thank God for the all the hospital staff and your family as well as friends to help you through this! Hope things continue to improve Jim so you can get back out there and do all the things you love to do!
bron, CO 9/11/2018 7:15:51 PM
Wow Jim. Glad you are doing so well so quickly. When are you cleared for fishing and work? Very interesting read my friend.
Hawaiian Punch, CO 9/11/2018 7:27:04 PM
We live in a time of great medical specialist,who gladly share their skills.I'm glad to hear your speedy recovery is on,I'll never forget the two very large men that came to my room eight hrs after my triple bypass . . ."we are here to get you up and walking"!!!!!!!!!!!!
And up and walking they had me . . .the next morning they came back and made me climb a flight of stairs.
Stay the course!
Jim McFarland (anglerwannabe), CO 9/12/2018 9:10:30 AM
Thanks guys. Doc says sternum should be fully healed by Thanksgiving and I can return to full fledged fishing then. Am hoping my blogs make some folks consider their lifestyles and they change them a little. Having always been healthy I didn't think this could happen to me. Once again, I learn how wrong I can be. At this time I'm down 42 lbs and working hard on it daily. right now I'm highly motivated for some reason. lol The real struggle is still in front of me.
IceFishingFool, CO 9/12/2018 12:10:04 PM
rkhancock, CO 9/12/2018 4:45:23 PM
Glad your'e doing ok! That's some scary stuff
skiman, CO 9/12/2018 5:54:10 PM
Best of all for a speedy recovery, and lots of fishing ahead. I hope to meet up with you sometime: Ski
Whiskerhunter, CO 9/12/2018 8:28:34 PM
Best wishes for a speedy recovery Jim!
Kev-o, CO 9/12/2018 8:54:52 PM
You should be in good shape by ice season my man. Don稚 worry I値l drag the sled lol.
bron, CO 9/12/2018 9:31:09 PM
Jim should pull the sled and hand auger the holes...good cardio workout.
spicyhombre, CO 9/12/2018 10:29:32 PM
Jim- I am so glad to hear you are on the mend. That is some scary stuff. I needed reminder to get checked out.
nparker, CO 9/12/2018 11:06:42 PM
My brother had a Dr kim in Billings recently for a torn aorta. Wonder if it was the same as your Dr Kim? She got him again and he is back in Bozeman.
Ajax5240, CO 9/12/2018 11:07:24 PM
Keep getting better Jim!! My dad went through a very similar experience a few years back. He痴 doing great, an fun I知 sure you will be very soon too!! Take great care of yourself!
Jim McFarland (anglerwannabe), CO 9/14/2018 6:36:12 PM
There seems to be lots of Dr Kims! There was one at each St Francis hospital and they aren't related. Ski - that would be awesome. Now Curtis.. first you gotta get me ice fishing.. form there is I do go, there is a reason I drive my own vehicle. Which means Kev would likely be with me.. which means if he tried that craziness.. might be a long walk home for him. lol So someone would certainly get a good cardio.
ol Uncle Marty, CO 9/14/2018 7:18:04 PM
Good job on the recovery
ColoradoRay, CO 9/15/2018 9:37:58 AM
I sure am glad they got you on the road to recovery Jim. This world needs good people like you. Get well soon my friend.
Neyet Stalker, CO 9/15/2018 9:56:19 AM
As we age its critical to make diet and exercise choices that keep us healthy and strong! Best wishes Jim!
Jim McFarland (anglerwannabe), CO 9/19/2018 5:21:48 PM
thank you for the kind words guys.