Giving Thanks, Day 3

Adapted from http://www.maryo.co/giving-thanks-day-3/

Today I am hugely thankful that the last major issue we had here was in 2013 when Tom had his heart attack.  That event caused me to start a whole new blog to post about our experiences.

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Adapted from https://maryomedical.com/2013/02/08/the-beginning/

January 27, 2013 was our 40th anniversary.  DH called me and said he was leaving a conference in Washington, DC and we’d go out to brunch when he got home.

The next thing I had heard was that he was in the ER with a suspected heart attack.  I rushed to the ER and found him in his cubicle.  He’d had 3 nitroglycerine pills by then and figured he could go home.

Wrong!  They had him stay overnight at the hospital.  January 28th, they decided to send him by ambulance to Fairfax Hospital for a cardiac catheterization and possible stent.

At the end of that, the surgeon came into my waiting room and said that he needed triple bypass NOW.  Three of the arteries were 100% blocked.  They got me calmed down to see him in the OR.

He was trying to get odds of not doing this surgery and just leaving then.  Finally, I said that he would do this surgery, we weren’t going to fool with this.

I really lost it when they asked me if we had any children and I said 1 son in NYC.  They called him at work in New York and had him get there as soon as possible.  I’m sure he could hear the fear in my voice.

They wheeled DH off for surgery and I waited again.  Luckily, 2 church friends came and sat with me and our pastor arrived about 8:00PM.  Our son arrived about 8:30PM after taking the Acela and a taxi directly to the hospital.

The surgery was over about 9:00PM but when we saw Tom, he was still under anesthesia.  They kept him that way until the next morning since he was too confused when they woke him up.

Long story short (too late!) – he got out of the hospital on the 31st and I played nurse 24/7.   He couldn’t drive/go anywhere for 6 weeks, and then there were 12 weeks of cardiac rehab.

One of the things that came out or cardiac rehab was becoming friendly with 2 other couples (although one of them has since split up).  We go out to dinner every couple months…and none of the surgeons would be happy about our choices.

heart-line

A slightly different take on the events, written 3 weeks later on the same blog.

Icy Days and Mondays…*

* With apologies to Karen Carpenter!

I know I’m not supposed to “relive” events.  I have done that too often with my Cushing’s and cancer adventures and I’m told that reliving causes nearly as much stress as the original event.

So, I plan to write down my memories here and try to let them go…

It all started on Sunday, January 27, 2013 – our 40th wedding anniversary.  I picked up my mom and went to church so I could sing in the choir.  DH went to a meeting of some sort on Benghazi.

After church, I stopped off in the church office for a goodie bag that the Staff Parish Committee had left.

Dropped my mom off at her house and went home.  I put the goodie bag on the dining room table and logged onto the computer to do some work.

I got a couple text messages from DH:

Text message

I figured I’d take a nap until DH came home for that late brunch.

The next thing I hear was my phone ringing, a call from DH.  He was in the ER at Fair Oaks with a heart attack.  OMG!

I immediately leaped up and rushed out the door.  I called one of my pastors and got to the ER in record time.   When I arrived, he was in a bed, all hooked up to monitors, fluids and such.  He was awake and feeling pretty well thanks to the nitroglycerine they had given him immediately after arrival.

When we had a chance to talk, it turned out that he had been in his conference and realized his chest was getting tight.  He found the hotel’s store and bought aspirin – 3 for $11.00 which he thought was extravagant.  He bought them and took them anyway – and probably saved his life.

On the way home, he was feeling pretty good so he stopped at the mall to buy an anniversary gift.  The salesgirl in Zales didn’t know that ruby was the stone for the 40th anniversary and was kind of ribbing DH for waiting until the last minute to buy a gift.  He walked out of there, felt more tightness and headed to the ER…where he called me.

DH was feeling pretty well thanks to the nitroglycerin and aspirin plus whatever else they had in the IV and wanted to go home.  The staff said no way – he had to stay overnight so he could be monitored.

The “automatic clock” on the wall said it was Monday.  Other rooms said Sunday.  Hmmm

A trainee EMT came in to ask some questions as part of his learning process.  Every time DH mentioned the word “Benghazi”, his blood pressure spiked about 40 points or so.  That term became verboten ever after.

My pastor stopped by and we had some nice chats and prayers.

Time passed, tests were done, doctors and nurses stopped by.  Finally, DH was moved to his room upstairs.

About 9 or so I went home and found our dog huddled by the front door – I had left so quickly I hadn’t left her any lights on.  I imagine she was quite worried.

I can’t even remember what I had to eat for dinner but I really wanted something chocolate.  On a whim, I looked in that goodie bag and there was a double-sized brownie.  I think I ate that in record time and it really hit the spot.

Ice

Monday morning (for real!), I checked the weather and found that school was starting late because of icy conditions.  I put on boots and took the dog out.  It seemed to be raining – if it’s raining, it must be warm, right?  So I didn’t really pay attention (and I had other things on my mind!) and completely missed seeing the black ice.

Next thing I knew, I had fallen on one knee, my cell phone in my pocket bruised my other thigh and my left arm hurt where I’d reached out to catch myself.  Luckily, I hadn’t let go of the dog’s leash.

I ended up sitting in a puddle of icy water for a long time, figuring out how to get up.  I finally sort of crawled up the trash can that was sitting in the driveway.

The dog had an abbreviated walk, I changed my wet, cold clothes and headed to the hospital.  I was showing DH my knee and one of the staff bandaged it up for me.  I told him I hadn’t fallen at the hospital and wouldn’t sue but I guess he wanted to be sure.

(Today, Monday February 18, my knee still has a huge lump under the skin and hurts when I touch it, although I’m no longer limping,  The bruise/pain from cell phone finally went away)

The hospital staff decided DH should go to another hospital which is world renowned for its work with heart cases to have a heart catheterization and possible stent.  DH was ready to walk out to my car to drive him to Fairfax Hospital.  He wasn’t thrilled when he was strapped to a gurney and out to an ambulance instead.

I headed over in my car.  They’d changed the entrances to the hospital since the last time I was there and I couldn’t find the “Grey Entrance”.  Finally, after wandering around for a long time, I found it.

I saw DH in the prep room where they got him ready for the heart catheterization – then they rolled him away after explaining all the things that could go wrong.

I went out to the waiting room, got some coffee and a sandwich and hunkered down with my iPad.

Eventually, my beeper went off and I was called back to the room where DH had been prepped.  The surgeon was there this time.  She said that 3 arteries were nearly 100% blocked and they needed to do emergency triple bypass.  They also needed me to convince DH of this since he was figuring he could tough it out.

I started crying but she said I had to get myself together and convince him NOW.  I had to put on scrubs and off I went to the OR.  I got there, DH was on the table trying to figure out the odds if he didn’t do this surgery.  All the medical staff said that he had  a very low chance of survival without the operation.  He still wasn’t sure.  He wasn’t afraid to die.  Tough Guy, Yadda Yadda.

One of the nurses asked me if we had any kids.  I said only one, in NYC.  She said I should call him and get him here ASAP.  She even dialed the number.  I talked to DS at work and he agreed to come right away.  He was pretty scared, too.  He later revealed that he had been crying on the train ride.

I went back to the OR, told DH that DS was coming and that he was going to do the surgery like it or not.  I signed the paperwork and sent him to a very scary surgery.

It was about 4:30 by then and I needed to take the dog out again.  They said I could go home – surgery wouldn’t be over until about 8:00PM or so. Got home, took the dog, made sure that there were lights on, and headed back to the hospital.  Another pastor from my church called.  He said he’d be by the waiting room later.

Two friends from the church office texted me to say they were coming over to sit with me in the waiting room.  They got there about 6:30 and we decided food might be a good thing.  We headed out, following a variety of directions and signs and walked for a l-o-n-g time.

My knee was killing me.  We got to the cafeteria and found out that it was closed.  the 24-hour one was elsewhere.  We finally found that, got some food and my cellphone rang.  The surgeon would be coming out soon to talk to me.

We hustled back to the waiting room and the surgeon came out about 8:00 with good news.  Successful surgery!  DH wasn’t awake yet but we could see him about 9:00PM.

The pastor arrived about 8:30, then DS got there about 8:45.  Finally, they said we could see DH although he still was asleep.  My friends left, pastor and DS went in to see him in ICU, sleeping so peacefully with so many lines attached.  The pastor prayed, then left.  DS and I decided to stay to see DH awake.

About an hour later, the ICU tech said they were going to keep him asleep overnight so we went home.

Monday

Tuesday, January 29 – DS called the hospital fairly early and found that DH was still a bit agitated so they were keeping him under a bit. I took the dog out and we got ready to head back.

I got a call that he was waking up but agitated.  He kept fighting with the nurses on the day of the week.  He kept saying it was Monday, even though it was Tuesday.  Surprise, surprise.  The calendar on the wall hadn’t been changed.  It still read Monday.  No wonder that’s what he thought!

We stayed all day, though nurses, techs, doctor visits and such.  He was in ICU so was monitored very well.  DH was quite confused and repeated himself a lot.  He wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

Monday

Wednesday, January 30.  DH had been moved from ICU into a regular room and we had to follow visiting hours, even though we were family.  We could visit at 11 and had to leave at 1, then back for 6-8.  Actually, this worked out well since I was able to take my first nap since this whole ordeal began.

DH had called DS early in the morning and  said he “needed” his cell phone to make some work calls.  Luckily, DS talked him out of that, saying that he could say some wrong things, given his temporary memory issues.  Thank goodness!  I didn’t want him spending his days talking on the phone.

We got there about 10:45am and they still wouldn’t let us in due to “flu season”.  I’m not sure how we could give him the flu in those 15 minutes before official visiting hours.

I glanced at the whiteboard on the wall where the nurses’ names, doctor’s name and such were written.  Unfortunately, no one had changed this whiteboard since Monday, so that’s what it still said.  <sigh>

We visited – DH got to eat a bit and had started having lines removed.  He thought he might put his shorts on so went into the bathroom to do that.  Unfortunately, he managed to pull the IV out of his hand and bled quite a bit.  The nurse sent him back to bed and said no more of that!

A representative from the group Mended Hearts stopped by with information and a heart-shaped pillow.  They have meetings the first Saturday of the month, so we might go to some of those.

The first pastor dropped by again and we made plans for Friday to pick up DH’s car which was still at the ER.  No one else I know could get it – it’s a standard shift car.

Not much else – visiting, napping, improvements every day.

Not Monday

Finally, it’s not Monday!  Nowhere, nohow.  Just Thursday, January 31 after 4 days of Monday.  Hooray!

DS had a headache so I went to the hospital alone.  He was going to come for the nighttime visiting hours.  As it happened, DH came home this day after lots of testing, last minute X-Ray, discharge notes, complaints about the night nurse…

We got home about 5:00PM.  Yea!

Now the real work began – visiting nurses, medications, doctor visits, rehab.

Since it’s no longer Monday, this post is over 🙂

heart-line

Whew!  There was a lot more after the surgery – visiting nurses, cardiac rehab, so on and on.

I am hugely thankful for my pastors, friends, family, people who brought us dinners, all the doctors, nurses, surgeons, visiting nurses, rehab personal, Mended Hearts, ambulance folks, aspirin, nitroglycerin, insurance, Fair Oaks Hospital, Fairfax Hospital, everyone involved in any way with this escapade.

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

How to recognise a heart attack before it happens

How to recognise a heart attack one month before it happens

How to recognise a heart attack.

Did you know that the main cause of early deaths are the heart attacks? Stressful lifestyle and  all the junk food we eat is a major contributor to the disease becomes so common and so dangerous during the last years.

Leading a healthy lifestyle and trying to reduce the level of stress in your life can help to protect against heart failure, but another thing that can be very useful, even lifesaving, is to know the symptoms of heart failure a month before it happens.

These are the common symptoms that you might have a heart attack in a month. Make sure you always treat these as red flags.

Read more at How to recognise a heart attack before it happens – Beaty Kingdom

Endocrine Society experts call for expanded screening for primary aldosteronism

Washington, DC–The Endocrine Society today issued a Clinical Practice Guideline calling on physicians to ramp up screening for primary aldosteronism, a common cause of high blood pressure.

People with primary aldosteronism face a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and dying from it than other people with high blood pressure. As many as one in ten people with high blood pressure may have primary aldosteronism. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can put these individuals at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.

The guideline, entitled “The Management of Primary Aldosteronism: Case Detection, Diagnosis, and Treatment: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline,” was published online and will appear in the May 2016 print issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), a publication of the Endocrine Society. The guideline updates recommendations from the Society’s 2008 guideline on primary aldosteronism.

“In the past eight years, we have come to recognize that primary aldosteronism, despite being quite common, frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated,” said John W. Funder, MD, PhD, of the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Clayton, Australia, and chair of the task force that authored the guideline. “This is a major public health issue. Many people with primary aldosteronism are never screened due to the associated costs. Better screening processes are needed to ensure no person suffering from primary aldosteronism and the resulting risks of uncontrolled high blood pressure goes untreated.”

Primary aldosteronism occurs when the adrenal glands — the small glands located on the top of each kidney – produce too much of the hormone aldosterone. This causes aldosterone, which helps balance levels of sodium and potassium, to build up in the body. The resulting excess sodium can lead to a rise in blood pressure.

The Endocrine Society recommends primary aldosterone screening for people who meet one of the following criteria:

  • Those who have sustained blood pressure above 150/100 in three separate measurements taken on different days;
  • People who have hypertension resistant to three conventional antihypertensive drugs;
  • People whose hypertension is controlled with four or more medications;
  • People with hypertension and low levels of potassium in the blood;
  • Those who have hypertension and a mass on the adrenal gland called an adrenal incidentaloma;
  • People with both hypertension and sleep apnea;
  • People with hypertension and a family history of early-onset hypertension or stroke before age 40; and
  • All hypertensive first-degree relatives of patients with primary aldosteronism.

Other recommendations from the guideline include:

  • The plasma aldosterone-to-renin ratio (ARR) test should be used to screen for primary aldosteronism.
  • All patients diagnosed with primary aldosteronism should undergo a CT scan of the adrenal glands to screen for a rare cancer called adrenocortical carcinoma.
  • When patients choose to treat the condition by having one adrenal gland surgically removed, an experienced radiologist should take blood samples from each adrenal vein and have them analyzed. This procedure, called adrenal vein sampling, is the gold standard for determining whether one or both adrenal glands is producing excess aldosterone.
  • For people with primary aldosteronism caused by overactivity in one adrenal gland, the recommended course of treatment is minimally invasive surgery to remove that adrenal gland.
  • For patients who are unable or unwilling to have surgery, medical treatment including a mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) agonist is the preferred treatment option.

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The Hormone Health Network offers resources on primary aldosteronism athttp://www.hormone.org/questions-and-answers/2012/primary-aldosteronism.

Other members of the Endocrine Society task force that developed this guideline include: Robert M. Carey, of the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, VA; Franco Mantero of the University of Padova in Padua, Italy; M. Hassan Murad of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN; Martin Reincke of the Klinikum of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in München, Bavaria, Germany; Hirotaka Shibata of Oita University in Oita, Japan; Michael Stowasser of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia; and William F. Young, Jr. of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

The Society established the Clinical Practice Guideline Program to provide endocrinologists and other clinicians with evidence-based recommendations in the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine-related conditions. Each guideline is created by a task force of topic-related experts in the field. Task forces rely on evidence-based reviews of the literature in the development of guideline recommendations. The Endocrine Society does not solicit or accept corporate support for its guidelines. All Clinical Practice Guidelines are supported entirely by Society funds.

The Clinical Practice Guideline was co-sponsored by the American Heart Association, the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the European Society of Endocrinology, the European Society of Hypertension, the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the International Society of Hypertension, the Japan Endocrine Society and The Japanese Society of Hypertension.

The guideline was published online at http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jc.2015-4061, ahead of print.

Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society, which is celebrating its centennial in 2016, has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at http://www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

From http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/tes-ese042616.php

How women can spot heart attack warning signs

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According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. But shockingly, the World Health Organization says that 80 percent of heart disease is preventable. That’s right, 80 percent. The most common risk factors for heart disease are smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactivity, obesity and diabetes. You can prevent heart disease by doing things like exercising, eating right and quitting smoking, but that’s for another article.

First, let’s talk a little science so you know why heart attacks happen. A heart attack happens when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart is severely reduced or stopped. This occurs because over time, the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances. This process is known as atherosclerosis. If the plaque breaks open and a blood clot forms, it can block the blood flow in the vessel, causing a heart attack. Heart attacks are perhaps the most feared complication of heart disease, so it’s important to learn how to spot the signs. We’ve all seen the classic signs of a heart attack in movies. It can be dramatic and sudden, and can include:

  • Chest pain in the center of your chest that can feel like squeezing, pressure or fullness and can radiate down the left arm or to other areas. The pain can come and go and lasts longer than a few minutes. It has often been described as “having an elephant sit on your chest” or “having your chest in a vise.”
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations or heart racing
  • Sweating

The American Heart Association and a body of recent research suggest that this typical picture of a heart attack is more typical for men who experience symptoms. A report by BlueCross BlueShield revealed that while heart attacks are more common in men, women “who experience heart attacks have worse outcomes — they are more likely than men to die within one year of a heart attack, to have another heart attack within six years, and to be disabled because of heart failure within six years.” Women receive less aggressive treatment after a heart attack than men and often delay care longer than men. This is why it is especially important that women learn to identify signs of a heart attack. For women, the picture can be more insidious than the dramatic Hollywood heart attack. While chest pain is still a common symptom for women, many have atypical symptoms that can seem more like the flu than a heart attack. Some don’t even have chest pain. For women, signs of a heart attack can include more than the typical symptoms above, such as:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pain in neck, jaw or back
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain

There’s a story circulating in national news about a local woman who believed she was suffering symptoms of a viral illness. She wanted to sleep it off, but at the insistence of her husband, she went to the emergency room and discovered she was in the throes of a heart attack. These stories are common, so it’s important to listen to your body. If you don’t feel right, go in to the hospital and get checked out. If you do believe that you are suffering the symptoms of a heart attack call 911 immediately and, according to a suggestion by Harvard Medical School, chew a tablet of aspirin.

By 2020, the American Heart Association wants to improve the cardiovascular health of Americans by 20 percent and reduce death from cardiovascular disease by 20 percent. The key to this goal is education. Let’s all work together to spread awareness of the preventable nature of heart disease and the subtle signs of a heart attack.

From http://www.tennessean.com/story/life/entertainment/12th/2016/04/28/how-women-can-spot-heart-attack-warning-signs/83539580/

8 Superfoods for your heart | WPRI 12 Eyewitness News

It’s American Heart Month and you should celebrate by feeding your body the right foods.A healthy heart starts with the right diet.This list of foods provides the right balance of fats, amino acids, vitamins and more to keep your heart pumping strong your entire life.To help you get started on the journey, here are eight superfoods to add to your grocery list…

Source: 8 Superfoods for your heart | WPRI 12 Eyewitness News

Valentine Heart

Happy Valentine's Day

From 2/14/2013 and still true today:

Today is Valentine’s Day, and not quite the way one would plan to celebrate but at least we no longer have a broken heart here.

This journey probably began a long time ago but the first we heard of it was our wedding anniversary, January 27, 2013.

Two and a half weeks later, the surgery is over, the wounds are healing, things are sort of normalizing.  I know that there’s a long way to go – more doctors, start rehab, relearn life.  But, at least we’re on the other side of the crisis now.

Lots to celebrate!