Thank you for following my blogging journey of what has taken place this week. I'm finding that blogging is helping me process what has taken place and helping me to put into perspective all that God has done this week.
As promised in my last post, I mentioned that I would share with you about my journey to the hospital. Now, if you've followed my blog over the months, you've read about some of the experiences I've had as a volunteer fireman. I've driven firetrucks, water-tank trucks, and even our personnel carrier--that had previously used as an ambulance.
But, I must say that driving an emergency vehicle is nothing like riding in the back of an ambulance, strapped to a gurney. Looking out the back window was interesting, seeing where we have been, not where we were going. I listed to the siren and air horn as the driver moved through Birmingham traffic. Fortunately, most people moved out of the way, most but not all. The driver did the same thing we did when we drove fire trucks--if people don't move, sit on their bumper, blowing the airhorn as frequently as possible, and just hope and pray that they finally get the message the red lights, sirens and horns aren't just decorations! I am always amazed at how some people get their license to drive and not know what red or blue lights mean!
While in the back of the ambulance, the EMT and EMT-in-training monitored my condition, administered oxygen, checked my vital signs, regularly talked with me about how I was feeling and the level of pain I was having. The EMT also talked with the hospital, preparing them for my arrival.
To go from my house to the Urgent care to the hospital, you have to go over a "large" mountain. Not large as in the Grand Canyon, but large for our area. I must say that going down that hill, on the gurney, at what seemed to be 80 miles per hour was an interesting experience. I don't like roller coasters and fast rides at amusement parks. Finally, I couldn't look any more and just closed my eyes! That did help. Some. Not much. But some.
It took 10-12 minutes to get to the hospital, not bad for the way we had to go to get there. I didn't know what to expect at the ER. Would I have to wait in line? Would I be pushed into a corner and told that someone would be with me soon? I really didn't know what to expect.
I was surprised at what happened upon my arrival at the hospital. A person on the cardic team met the ambulance in the parking lot. His first question was: "Is this Mr. Heartsill?" Once he knew it was me, he immediately led the EMTs to take me to the cath lab. In a matter of minutes, I was moved from the gurney to the cath table. And, in less than an hour, the cath procedure was finished.
As a pastor, I had sat with many families as family members went through a heart cath. I knew what was coming, what to expect, and most of the language the doctor would use. None of it was really new to me. The only difference, this time it was me they were working on. I listened as the doctor worked. I heard most of what he and the others said they were doing. I felt the pressure in my leg as they worked. I heard the razors as they shaved me.
What the doctor found was simple. It seems that an artery that goes from the front to the back of my heart, a clot broke off of that artery, settling into another artery in the back of my heart. That clot caused 100% blockage in that second artery. That was the cause of my heart attack. The doctor inserted a "balloon" into my heart, made his way to my blocked artery, and completely opened it within a matter of minutes. Fairly quickly, the pain began to ease in my heart.
After he finished cleaning out that artery, he went back to check on the other narrowing of my artery. That part of the artery, where the clot came from, was still at 30% blocked. Doctors do not like to work on an artery that is less than 70% blocked, fearing that they will do more damage that the smaller blockage. Hence the need for medicines! Some of which I'll be on for the rest of my life.
The days ahead include heart meds, a stress test, countless trips to the doctor, and cardic rehab with diet and exercise. I suppose, keeping those things in perspective, they are far better than deciding where to bury my body and what suit to bury me in.
At this point, pray for the meds to do their job--to keep further clots from forming or breaking loose from the blockage. Pray that they will dissolve slowly with the meds.
In my next post, I'll share about my experience with the CCU! Trust me, before checking into the CCU, please make sure you are really, really, really sick! If not, it will just about kill you!
More to come!