Heart Attacks and Other Gifts From The Year 2020

Let me start by saying I’m fine.

Ok, I’ll be fine, sooner than later.

Last week I had what the doctors are calling a non-stemi Heart Attack. Essentially what that means is that while none of the arteries in my body are clogged (they look pretty great actually according to the doctor) I had a couple of vessels in the heart that are narrowed which caused the event. The treatment of such things is just medicinal and lifestyle. In total this was essentially my warning shot, that as a middle aged man it’s time to push back against all of the lifestyle choices that both the work from home lifestyle and this life that 2020 is provided led me to believe was acceptable.

I honestly had no intention of mentioning this outside of some core groups but as I get to the backside of this event I realized there were quite a few places where I made all the wrong choices and in the interest of education I’d like to share here.

Oops

To start with I began feeling bad Wednesday night after helping myself to a bottle of wine. I do not often drink wine so when I started to feel some discomfort that I can only describe as being very gassy in my chest I made the assumption that I was just having a negative reaction to the wine and decided to just “gut through it.” This was major mistake #1. In any situation where you are having chest pains, do not mess around because every second after an event begins can lead to more damage to your heart.

Fast forward to Thursday morning after a night of pacing, vomiting, weakness in my upper extremities and the inability to breathe when laying down. My wife at this point pointed me towards a list of signs of a heart attack and low and behold all of those were on the list. I talked to my Primary Care Physician because, well because I still was in denial, who told me I should go to the hospital so finally I decided to go. Here is where mistake #2 came in as I decided to just drive myself to the local hospital as I didn’t want to worry my daughter or my wife any more than I already had. While it worked out I’ve had no end of health care professionals point out to me how very dumb an idea this was. The likelihood that I could have had an event while driving and not only killed myself but potentially others was higher than should have been acceptable.

Another mistake is how I got here in the first place. For the past couple years due to life, work stressors, etc. I’ve let a lot of things go; my diet has been largely fried and full of comfort foods. I’ve mostly stopped exercising in any meaningful or consistent way. Considering not long ago I was running a 5k or so 4-5 days a week the fact that my Fitbit has averaged for the past year 3000 steps or less is pretty telling. Also I’ve been bad about letting the normal everyday stressors be treated like Earth shattering problems that I alone can solve. All of these are things I have the power and the ability to fix and need to do so.

Finally the last mistake, but a very fixable one still, that I’ve made is not personally allowing myself true relaxation and reflection time after this. Even though I was released without lined out restrictions I was told to take it easy and work towards getting back to a healthier lifestyle. In my standard way I decided that meant it was time to go right back into “kickass mode”, starting the first Monday after getting out of the hospital with an exit interview (surprise!) and then doing 30 minutes on the treadmill and another 30 doing a Boxing workout on my Nintendo Switch. Neither of those workout choices were a great idea and as thus I felt like crap again last night. You have to allow yourself time to recover, something I need to learn not only with this event but also with life in general.

Changes

Now for the positive gift from 2020. As I alluded to earlier my time at OffsiteDataSync has come to an end, literally the same day I had my heart attack. I will be starting the year in a new position that I am very much so looking forward to so stay tuned.

As mentioned I’m going to also be in for some lifestyle changes. For now I’m starting with this:

  • Eating more healthy and tracking my diet and health again with MyFitnessPal. This has really worked for me in the past so time to do it again. If you are also a user and would like to link up for motivation’s sake you can find my profile at https://www.myfitnesspal.com/profile/k00laidit.
  • Slowly making my way back to some meaningful daily exercise, mostly tracked by my Fitbit. I may get back to using Runkeeper at some point but I’m not there yet. If you’d like to be friends on Fitbit you can find me at https://www.fitbit.com/user/2XBFK6.
  • Going to truly give the mindfulness thing a better shot. Thanks to hearing a great deal about it over the years from Alicia Preston I truly believe that a quick few minutes here and there through the day will help me relax more and be better prepared to meet the day than I have been lately.
  • Fortunately there are a number of medications available that will help me to get and stay better. I’m hopeful that all of the above will make most of them be short term fixes as I make the underlying problems better.

I would like to close by thanking the many people who helped me during this scare. The staff at CAMC Teays Valley Emergency Room and CAMC Memorial’s Cardiac Wing. Friends too numerous to count who stayed in touch and kept me conversing when I was very much so stressing out. Family who came and brought food to help out our family in some troubling times. Finally I wish to thank my wife for the love and support that only she can give. We can get through all the things together Tracy, I love you.

If nothing else that will be a start. Here’s to taking the gifts of 2020 and making positives from them in 2021!

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