This post comes under the heading of a public service announcement....or perhaps a "don't be stupid like I was" announcement. Take it for what it's worth. Do not assume that I'm looking for sympathy or attention, I'm not. I want you to avoid what happened to me.
When I was little, my parents made me eat whatever was on my plate...completely. It seemed to me that there was an inordinate amount of liver on that plate, and to be honest there isn't enough ketchup in the world to mask the taste of liver. Two things, however, came out of that. First, I pretty much learned to intensely dislike things that were probably reasonably good for me, and second, I learned to finish everything on my plate...everything!
When I moved away from my parents house, there is a chance that my choices of meals were perhaps not as healthy as they should have been (unless deep fried twinkies are healthy). Bad habits are a bear! Yes, when I married Susan, the quality of my choices got infinitely better, but quantity probably didn't.
Coupled with my eating habits, I started getting involved in the community (schools, planning commission, chamber of commerce etc) and stopped playing basketball and volleyball on a regular basis. I hope you can see where this is leading....I couldn't.
About a month ago, Susan and I were finishing up a two week sales trip to the West Coast. We decided to fly home from Las Vegas. We stayed there for a day and a half. On the first morning we were there we decided to go to a restaurant down the street from our hotel for breakfast. When we travel, we walk a lot, so three blocks to breakfast shouldn't have been a big deal. The operative phrase was "shouldn't have been". I had to stop twice because I was out of breath. Well, to be more honest, my chest hurt a lot, but it didn't seem to be classic heart attack symptoms. The pain didn't radiate down my left arm, there was no jaw pain, and no crushing chest pain.
Susan was sure that I needed to go to the hospital, but I convinced her that I just needed some rest (that would be mistake #1). Because I'm not entirely stupid, I called one of our daughters and asked her to make a doctor's appointment for me for when we got home. The short version of the story is that we got home Friday night (mistake #2 being getting on not one but two airplanes!).
Circumstances dictated that we drive to Ann Arbor, MI on Saturday morning and back on Sunday (mistakes #3 and 4). On Tuesday, I cheerfully went to see my doctor. I like him. I went in with the obligatory laundry list that Susan wanted me to share with him. His nurse ran an EKG while I was there and it was perfect!
Uncharacteristically, the doctor spent very little time with me. He heard my list - blah, blah, blah, chest pains, blah, blah, called the hospital, arranged for a room for me, and scheduled an angiogram for the next day.
What both he and the cardiologist expected was to find a minor blockage, remove it, put in a stent, and send me home the next day. It seemed simple enough to me..a minor blip on my health radar screen. In retrospect, I really wish it had worked that way...really!
It turns out that my life style had lined up not one minor blockage, but rather 5 blockages at 80% or more. I've come to realize that there are numerous statements that you don't want to hear in your life. Things like a dentist saying, "oops!" or the ever popular, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you", come to mind. The latest addition to this list is a conversation that begins, "Hello, Mr. Clark, I'm your surgeon."!
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery (known in the medical trade as CABG or Cabbage) ain't for sissies. The problem is that we sissies don't have much choice in the matter.
I had absolutely fantastic doctors, nurses ....everyone that I came in contact with was excellent. My recovery from triple bypass surgery has gone exceedingly well. The problem is that I never should have gotten to that point. I assumed that I wasn't a risk for heart problems. We've never had heart problems in my family. There is a fair level of longevity on both sides of the family, so I thought I'd live forever (it's worked out pretty well so far).
Don't allow yourself to buy that story. My problems go back for decades. I am rapidly becoming a zealot for eating better, exercise and a healthy dose of common sense when it comes to these things. Most of my friends believed, as I did, that a good EKG and blood tests were sufficient indicators of good health. That just isn't true. The good news is that I've lost a lot of weight, seemingly have my cholesterol and blood sugar under control, blood pressure is way down and I intend to keep it that way. This operation isn't fun, and I don't want to swap cabbage stories with you, unless you've already had the surgery. Please clean up your act and stay healthy!