February is Heart Month, with that being said- here is my story.
Heart Attack, I had a Heart Attack at age 35. 8 days prior to my 36th birthday. I have had and survived a Heart Attack on August 11th and Cardiac Arrest- August 15, 2013.
10% of Males under age 45 will have a heart attack according to stats here in North America. I am one of those 10%. Makes me somewhat unique right ?
August 11, 2013. I had a heart attack while playing Beach Dodgeball. 90% blockage in one artery and two 70% blockages. The Heart Attack, for me felt more like the flu than what people perceive a heart attack feels or looks like. The chest and arm pain followed later. It was nothing like Hollywood makes it out to be. Not so obvious, thank you Hollywood !
The game started, I ran to the line to grab a ball and then everything just went bad from there. I felt very ill and had cold sweats, nausea and I was shaky.
I went to the sideline and sat down, I was too uneasy to stand. I tried because I am stubborn. But had to sit back down. My friend brought me water and asked what I was feeling.
I shared the symptoms but said, I am ok, I will be fine, I am just sick. In my head I was slightly worried but I kind of kept my mouth shut because I am one of the most injury prone people out there. Two friends heard my symptoms and then said something I didn’t want to believe. They both at different times said I had the symptoms of a heart attack. I didn’t want to believe it and re iterated I was ok, just under the weather. I continued to sit there and watch while my friends played, occasionally standing up and throwing balls back onto the court as they flew by.
Me, being stubborn decided on the last game of the day, a fun game, to jump back in. I still felt like garbage, my breathing was very hard and my chest felt tight. This is something I did not tell anyone. I finished the game and actually dominated a brief part of it. My friends again shared their concern and i said I was fine to them. Inside I was worried . I didn’t want to look as weak as I felt.
I will forever cherish them and their lovely voices telling me they thought I was having a heart attack while it was happening. Because of them, I became smart enough to go to the hospital. At the time I was stubborn and kept saying, no, I am fine, and refused an ambulance. I didn’t want to accept what they were saying, I didn’t want to believe it, I was scared to believe it. I am always the guy who seems to get injured or something goes wrong with. It’s seems to be my M.O. One I am not all that proud of.
Their voices rang in my head as I sat in my car. Over and over the words Heart Attack played in my head. It was then I made a choice to go to the hospital. Within an hour of arrival, it was confirmed, I indeed had a heart attack. I was told had I driven to my mom’s I may not have made it or if I had, there is a chance I may not have made it that day at all. The next 4 days I would not leave my bed.
I was in hospital a week total. I had a few select visitors because I was doing my best not to have the whole world know what had just happened. I did not want the attention I knew I would most likely receive. I did not want anyone to feel sorry for me. I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I had no reason to. I was trying to understand why and how it happened. I was scared. I had no pity party I merely needed to figure this out. My docs were bombarded with questions and still are to this day. I have become an information whore.
Four days later on August 15th I had surgery to place two stents into my arteries. Unfortunately only one was put in. I went into Cardiac Arrest during the surgery. My heart stopped and I was shocked back to life. I will say this. You know you are alive by the immense pain you feel after being shocked. If you want to feel pain, that’s one hell of a way to feel it. It hurt from head to toe and my body was tense for a day or two after. My first thoughts once I was alone that night didn’t have anything to do with me. It had to do with things not done, things that could have been left unsaid, then, something else happened. I became completely numb and have been that way since. This is something I can’t fully explain yet, so please don’t ask, I don’t have the honest answer here.
Over the last 5 months I have been asked me why I seem a little off or different. Usually it’s those who did not know who have asked. Well, now you know why. I would apologize for not telling a few of you sooner, but that wasn’t exactly the most important thing on my mind. No apologies, it was my choice and I own it for my own reasons.
So that’s what happened. I am not going to sit here and say it totally awakened me because it didn’t. It just made many things way more real and serious for me. I have always tried to enjoy my life and have fun and this wasn’t one of those – oh my god I need to do THIS and THIS and THIS and live life crazily or stupidly or start moving quicker on a bucket list. I do not have nor believe in a bucket list, I do believe in dreaming big and acting upon those dreams.
What did having a heart attack do ? Most obvious is Heart muscle damage but mentally……It created more focus in my life than I think I have ever had. The heart attack may have been the best thing to have happened to me and that is the truth. During Cardiac Rehab and since my Heart Attack I have been so focused on my health and getting better. Friends, it has paid off big time. Down 24 lbs and feeling better than I have in years. I am only going to keep getting better and that is promise.
Here are some things I do think about…..I am 36, single, unhappy in my career and some life choices, wishing so bad to successful, to stop feeling so alone, have a family, travel. Make a difference in the lives around me, make a difference in my life. Many times I feel very alone but would never show any of you that side of me. I am usually a happy guy and still am. I love that I have been given a new life. It is up to me what to do from here. To really live is a choice.
I know now that some of you may be asking how did it happen and that’s fine to ask but that is for my next post.
Please again, I do not want sympathy here. I hope this helps me and others. I merely need to tell this for me. I will speak about my recovery soon. Please be patient, this whole thing has purpose.
Over the course of Heart Month I may be doing a few things to talk about heart health and to do things for others to kinda give back, for I am thankful, so very thankful.