I am writing this entry a few hours before I need to arrive at the Washington Hospital Center. I am scheduled for a cardiac catheterization and possible angioplasty/stent placement of some blocked coronary arteries. I went through a similar procedure last December and the cardiologist thought that he had opened every blocked artery. However, several weeks ago I started experiencing chest pressure while exercising on the elliptical machine and in a brief several weeks, the angina is now occurring with walking. The nuclear stress test performed this week showed marked abnormalities so clearly, there are some new blockages.
If today’s procedure does not result in a favorable outcome, I am staring down the full coronary artery bypass grafting (“CABG”) open heart surgery.
First, I want to say that my situation is NOT by any means more serious, more impactful and in any form or fashion, more life-altering than so many of you, my patients, have gone through. This is NOT a cancer situation, horrific chronic pain syndrome, progressive dementia or other medical conditions that have much better chances of ruining a life. What I have is “fixable” and at its simplest terms, when I speak with patients about their medical conditions, I do think it is beneficial to bring up the concept of “fixable” vs. “non-fixable”.
I wanted to share some thoughts that are permutating through my brain and perhaps some/many of you have had similar thoughts under similar situations:
- Fear: Personally, I do not have a fear of dying. I am much more in fear of having some life-altering condition that inhibits me from being “me”. I like to be active, work out, spend fun times with my family, see/help my patients, work with my wonderful staff and NOT be a burden on any of my loved ones. Any condition/illness that would strip me of these would leave me in a very sad and depressed state.
- Why Me? Here is where the “pity party” mentality sets in. I have a great blood pressure, low cholesterol level, no diabetes mellitus, do not smoke, exercise daily and maintain a normal body weight and percentage body fat. How the heck is it possible that I have blocked coronary arteries?
- What Happens Next? IF the cardiologist finds something not fixable with angioplasty and I am steering down an open chest coronary artery bypass surgery, how long will I be out of the office? Will our great Nurse Practitioners Ashley and Danielle be able to find the time away from their main jobs to cover the practice? Will I be able to get back to working out daily and play tennis? Will my life be the same?
Tomorrow I will post “Part 2” of “The Doctor As A Patient”. I am hoping for a very fun, upbeat and happy post! Wish me luck!