False Alarm, To a Certain Degree

In addition to scheduling me for a nuclear stress test my doctor also prescribed blood pressure medication. I really hate taking it but it is what it is.  Also, no more running!

The stress test was scheduled first thing the following day. I’ve never had a nuclear stress test so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It started out pretty simple by just answering a few questions. But before filling out the forms to answer the questions they insert an IV in your arm and shoot you up with heparin. After about 1/2 an hour they attach electrodes in various locations on your body and have you lie down so an x-ray machine that takes a series of 64 x-rays of your heart. After that, they took me to another room and had me walk on the treadmill. I think every three minutes the elevation would rise on the treadmill. I lasted almost 9 minutes before they stopped the treadmill. They tell me most patients with heart problems can’t even make it to six minutes so I felt pretty good about that. I have admit though the treadmill portion was more difficult than I expected it to be. I was breathing pretty hard at the end but I recovered very quickly. The EKG done at the same time indicated I had not had a heart attack. So I was really happy to hear that. Finally, they had me lie down again and they take another series of 64 x-rays.

After that they sent me home and told me my Doctor would call me by Wednesday with the results. Now I have no idea what any of the terms in the results mean. The one thing stressed the most was “left ventricular ejection fraction was calculated at 48% at rest. They tell me it should be around 55%. Now my doctor refers me to a cardiologist and he was able to get me an appointment in just a couple of days. I had a pretty good idea this would mean I would end up having a heart cath to find out if and where there are any blockages in my arteries. That’s exactly what happened!

The cardiologist told me one of three things could happen during the heart cath.

One: the stress test was a false alarm and he would to send me home.
Two: if he found blockages that were easily repaired he would go ahead and put stents in at the same time. Also, I would have to spend a night in the hospital.
Three: if the blockages are severe he would send me home but schedule me for heart bypass surgery.

Still, no running until the cath results came back. The heart cath was scheduled for a week later on April 25th. I’ve got to close for now but I’ll have you all caught up in a few days.

 

So am I Still Living?

I can’t believe it’s been over three months since my last post. It’s been a very eventful time for sure and I’ll try to get you caught up but it will probably take two or three posts to get through it. The first part won’t be very exciting but you need to know what has been going on so you know where I’m going in the future.

I started my half marathon training right after my last post to this blog. Since my break from running was much longer than I anticipated, I decided to gradually build up my running miles. The first few weeks I kept my miles down to about 2 to 3 miles per run. The weather in January and early February was pretty crappy so most of my running was on a treadmill. Not my favorite way to run!

By mid February I was up to running three times a week for about 4 miles each And by March, my weekly long run was over five miles. As my runs got longer, I was noticing for some unexplained reason it was more difficult to run. Almost to the point where it wasn’t even fun anymore. No, I take that back, it wasn’t fun anymore. Also, my running pace had slowed down dramatically from last year’s running season. Now I’ve never been a fast runner but I was finding my running pace wasn’t much faster than my walking pace– especially uphills. This is probably the biggest reason I haven’t posted anything in so long. I’m a little embarrassed about my results. Since returning to running my progress hasn’t been anything to brag about for sure.

By the third week of March I was nearing my scheduled semi annual checkup with my doctor. I used to have high blood pressure but with diet and exercise I managed to come off of it. I’ve been taking statin drugs for high cholesterol for years– probably close to 30 years. Over the past several months I had noticed my blood pressure was slowly creeping upward. To the point I stopped measuring it because I didn’t want to know the results. But since it was close to my scheduled appointment time I figured I should start taking blood pressure readings for my doctor to review at my next appointment.

Okay, you are probably starting to see where this is going, right? Over the course of the week, I took blood pressure readings at random times during the day. I would imagine anyone reading this blog knows what a normal blood pressure readings should be, but just in case, a normal reading would be 120/80. I’m not going to explain those numbers so if you don’t know what they mean just “Google” it. My first measurement was on March 19th with a reading of 139/92. Not good by any means but not high enough to be overly concerned. As it turns out, this was one of my better days. From there I had readings ranging from 139/92 for a low, and 171/102 for a high! Now this concerned me enough to call the doctor to ask if I should come in now or wait until my scheduled appointment on April 17th. My doctor scheduled an appointment for that afternoon.

Once I arrived at the doctor’s office, they asked their usual 20 questions, got my weight, and took my blood pressure. I don’t remember the exact BP reading but it was something like 190/100 something! My doctor knew I was a runner and talked to me about my issues with blood pressure and my other concerns and difficulties in running. He ordered up an EKG right then and there in the office. Within seconds of the nurse getting the EKG readings she immediately called in the doctor.  I jokingly said to the doctor, “So am I still living?”  My doctor said “You are, but it looks like you’ve had a heart attack!”

Now my reaction was something like, “What? No way! If I did, I sure didn’t know it.” He told me to stop running immediately until more test can be done and I was scheduled for a nuclear stress test for the very next day.

I think I’ve built up this story enough to close it out for now. It’s should be pretty obvious I’m still alive and kicking but the story gets more interesting for sure. Honestly, I need a little more time to reflect before I continue writing. Stay tuned, I promise I’ll be back to post something in the next few days.