My First Heart Attack
Sex nearly killed me. You read that right. This all started on a January night after a night out with my family. My now wife and I had just finished having some extracurricular activities. Right after, as I was lying in bed, I noticed I couldn’t catch my breath. All I could think to myself was “I am not that out of shape.” In the next few seconds, I became really nauseated. Let’s just say she wasn’t too pleased when I told her I thought I was going to vomit. I made it to the bathroom but did not get sick.
This wasn't normal
Confused at why I felt so bad, I walked out of the bathroom. I vaguely remember dropping down to my knees and after a bit of time, I woke up with my face planted in the carpet. When I woke up, I no longer had any shortness of breath or nausea. Instead, I had really bad pain under each of my arms from my armpits to my elbows, and pain in my lower jaw with extreme pressure which made it feel like a force was trying to push my teeth out of my jaw.
My girlfriend was on the phone with 911. When I found out, I told her I didn’t need an ambulance anymore. Quickly I changed my mind, and not for the obvious reason. I thought to myself that it isn’t normal to pass out so I should get checked out. Never once thought about the pain in my arms and jaw. I assumed that I just landed weird on my face and maybe pulled a muscle in my arm or twisted it a weird way. Another one of life’s many reminders that I am not a doctor and I need to stop trying to diagnose myself.
The ambulance arrives
When the ambulance arrived, I was laying on the stairs directly in front of the front door. We had a short discussion of what happened and my symptoms. They wouldn’t let me walk to the ambulance so I took the short ride on the stretcher. I was hooked up to the heart monitor. Once I was hooked up to the monitor an EMS personnel handed me four little pills and told me to chew them up. I asked what they were. He told me aspirin. I didn’t say it out loud, but I immediately thought to myself, “this isn’t good,” and off we went to the hospital. They did not use a siren, probably because it was late at night and there was little traffic, but they did use lights. I was told later that EMS doesn’t always use the siren because it can add to the anxiety and problem if the person inside hears them.
The emergency room
I arrived at the hospital in what seemed like no time. I was brought into a hallway and immediately greeted by a cardiologist who started asking a whole bunch of questions. He explained what was going on. I am very laid back, and for some reason, this didn’t faze me. I just thought we need to get this resolved ASAP. I reality, what could I do about it now except get it taken care of.
The most depressing part of the whole event was when my parents showed up in tears. We had just spent the evening together and as most people right before a heart attack, you seem fine to them. The doctor explained what was going on and they were sent to the waiting room while I was wheeled back to the cath lab.
The cath lab
Most of this part is a blur. I do remember seeing a whole lot of equipment. It all looked so fancy and expensive - I spent the time I was being prepped trying to figure out what everything was for. While the doctor performed the catheterization, I was pretty sedated, in and out of consciousness. When it was all over, I regained consciousness in a room and my family was there. I found out I had a 100% occlusion in my right coronary artery (RCA). Naturally, I was very thankful to everyone that helped to save my life that night. I knew from this point on, my life was never going to be the same.
Have you ever avoided going to the doctor out of fear?