So it is April 16, 2008. I am supposed to report to the cardiologist’s office to do a treadmill exercise and have some imaging photos done. I have still not made any kind of connection to the chest tightness, being in a cardiology office, and an imaging study. I was not in excruciating pain like most others that I have heard having a heart attack. I was one of the first patients in the waiting room. I was starving and definitely sleepy with no caffeine in my system.
The first thing I had to do for this test, was to go back to a prep area, where a catheter was inserted into my arm so that a radioactive dye could be injected for the imaging part of the study. Once that was completed, it was off to the x-ray table where the first set of photos were taken, without any stress upon my heart (again, I still had no idea that is what was being looked at).
With the first set of photos done, it was off to the treadmill. I was not sure what to expect. I had all kinds of wires hooked up to me to allow for an EKG to be done during the “walk” and a blood pressure cuff had been placed on my arm. It was explained that every three minutes the belt would speed up, as well as the incline would increase. I did not know how long the test would go. But it did not take long to stop the test.
Something happened on the EKG with my heart. No one would explain what, but after just two minutes the test had been stopped. Of course me being naïve, thought, “hey, this wasn’t so bad.” I was taken back to the waiting room where I was allowed to have some milk and crackers, and wait for another round of pictures. Another shot of dye pushed through my veins, up on the table I went, and then sent back to the waiting room again, to be told that I was done for the day. That is not what happened.
Instead, as time went on, I watched one after another, who came in after me, leave before me. Now my cylinders were clicking. Something was wrong. And just like that, a nurse called out to me, and took me back to an exam room and said that the doctor wanted to have see me.
I will call him Dr. Chris for the purpose of his privacy, came in and introduced himself. He offered me this – “I don’t usually guarantee something like this, but I am 100% certain you have a blockage.” I was like “a blockage of what?” And that calmly he told me that the pictures showed that during the treadmill test, blood was not reaching my heart as the dopplar colors had shown. But he was confident in his diagnosis and what he wanted to do. “I want you to check in next door right now into our cath lab, and we will set you up for tomorrow morning, pop in a couple of stints and you’ll be good as new in no time.”
I was really confused now. Basically there was a blockage in one of my arteries somewhere, and they would insert a catheter into my groin with a camera to locate the blockage and place a stint to open the artery. Not something that a 42 year old male was expecting to hear. Of course, the alternative was not an option, possibly a heart attack or something else cardiac related.
But just as the Kugler-Ross stages of grief, I went right to bargaining. “Look, I need to go home and take care of a few things. I will come in tomorrow morning, but I need to go home tonight.” He told me that he really did not think it was a good idea, but had no issue as long as I just went home and relaxed. Of course, my idea of relaxing, “great, I just wanted to get my lawn mowed anyway.” Dr. Chris just looked at me and asked if I had poor judgment issues. Mowing the lawn may be relaxing for me, but definitely not what the doctor had in mind.