Wednesday, August 05, 2015

2005-2015: My Heart Attacks

Unbelievably, it's been 10 years since my heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery.  I say attacks because I had several over the course of a few days, but there was no way to know exactly how many.  The first one I remember was in the wee morning hours of Sunday, August 6, 2005 - I think around 3AM.  I woke up in the middle of the night at my parents' house feeling numbness in my upper left arm.  I thought I had just laid on it during sleep and it had gone numb.  So I got up and walked around a bit and the pain eventually subsided.  This feeling followed this experience.  I probably should have been more aware.  But despite being a heart patient for the previous 4 years, my then-cardiologist had told me that my heart was actually diseased and failing and that I would soon need a complete transplant.  He also said that I would never have to worry about having a heart attack.  Yeah - Dr. Edward Bodurian was awful and is, sadly, still in practice.

The rest of the story can be recounted in the following posts I wrote 10 years ago.  You should read these.  They're actually quite good:





There are a few measurements doctors take before and after bypass surgery to ensure the heart is once again a healthy muscle.  One such measurement is the actual diameter of the heart.  Normal diameter is 56mm.  Before surgery, mine was 58mm, after it was 49mm.  Another measurement is the ejection fraction which measures how much of the blood being pumped into the heart is then being pumped back out.  Normal fraction is 50% or higher.  Mine was 35% before, 55% after.  Dr. Mark Nelson and his team did an incredible job on me.

When I had initially started writing my blog, only a handful of people were reading it; a few close friends and a couple of people who found me on blogrolls pretty much made up my audience.  But a reporter had somehow found the above posts on my blog and posted them on a popular site.  Suddenly, my blog went crazy - not "Carol-Burnett-Crazy", but the readership escalated exponentially.  At one point, I had one of the most popular blogs in DC.  It was THAT kind of crazy.

So fast forward to 2015, I'm doing very well now.  I've been seeing the same cardiologist, Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, for the past 10 years and he's done an amazing job keeping me healthy.  I was part of a heart campaign in February 2011 (photo at right).  I've been the subject of articles, like the one that written for Northwestern University in Spring 2011.  I was featured in a fundraising ad for the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.  I was even part of a news program in Canada that focused on young people who suffer heart disease.

I give a lot of the credit for my staying healthy to Kevin, who simply refuses to allow me to act my age.  I live and eat better because of him.  He's my inspiration in just about everything.

There is a day down the road when my 4 bypass grafts will need to be replaced because about 50% of placed grafts close in 10-12 years.  This means that of the 4 bypasses placed in me, 2 would be expected to close 12 years after surgery.  I plan on making them last as long as possible.

In another ten years, there will be another update on this.  But until then, I remain pretty healthy, and very happy to be able to look back 10 years ago to see how far I've come.