Thirteen years ago today.
It felt like the whole world was sitting on my chest; or, at least, a huge elephant.
It’s a pain you don’t forget.
I knew I was in trouble when I got home from work and felt anything but comfortable after changing clothes.
I was hot, out of breath, sweaty, clammy, slightly sick at my stomach, with a headache and a numbness along my left arm in any and all areas that DIDN’T have pain.
I answered a phone call, then walked out of the house … slowly … to take my wife to dinner. Friday night, the start of the weekend, and I was not doing so well.
When I opened the car door, sat down, then slumped over the steering wheel, she asked if I was OK.
“I’ll be fine,” I said. “Where do you want to go eat?”
She replied: “I think we better go to the hospital.”
She knew I was in trouble when I didn’t argue but rather said: “OK. You better drive.”
There was no doubt in neither her mind nor mine that I was having a heart attack. The question was: how big?
When we finally arrived at the hospital, my wife pulled up to the emergency room door. I told her to park the car and I was going to walk inside.
She was going to get me help, but I told her it wasn’t hurting at that moment. It wasn’t. But it started again as soon as I walked through the sliding doors.
I sat down at the admitting desk and was asked not “What’s your ailment,” but rather, “Who’s your insurance company?” My wife came through the door about that time, telling the woman behind the glass: “He’s having a heart attack. Can you get him help, please?”
From there, I was taken to triage, where the process started again.
“What’s your name and your insurance company?”
Once again, my wife pleaded for assistance.
Finally, someone listened and they put me on a gurney and wheeled me into the emergency room while my wife filled out the forms.
I was lucky. Dr. Kent Potts (now retired) was there, called in to handle another patient. When the staff made an initial check on me, he took over.
It took only a minute or so for him to make the decision to send me on to surgery. I remember being wheeled out of the room, then waking up as I was being taken to a room in intensive care, with some metalwork in my chest.
It was 13 years ago, but it seems like last week. That experience cost me a major portion of my heart. Afterward, I was “educated” on what I had done to lead up to the painful moment when my life nearly ended. As I recall, they told me there were some seven things that can lead to a heart attack, and I had eight of them.
Four days later, I was able to go home. Rehab basically was walking and getting up and around. It was an experience I never will forget. I wouldn’t wish that event on anyone.
In fact, I would encourage anyone who has a family history of heart disease (which I had but didn’t think about it), or has any of the warning signs, to get it checked.
Learn more about heart disease and what you can do to handle it by going to KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/HEART-DISEASE-OKLAHOMA.
Take it from someone who knows. You don’t want the elephant to sit on your chest. It hurts.