Friday, March 4, 2011

Note to Self: Know your family history BEFORE you have a cardiac event!!

Note to Self: Know your family history BEFORE you have a cardiac event!!

I learned first hand yesterday that BEFORE you think you are having an heart attack or you have an EKG that says you have had some sort of cardiac event happen to you it would behoove one to have knowledge of one’s family history. I can speak from experience that the time to find out about major (as in sudden cardiac death) life altering events with one’s ancestors is ideally not when one is driving themselves to the cardiology department at Vanderbilt for a sudden visit with the cardiologist!! I can assure you that if I was going to have 4 hours off yesterday afternoon and all day today off, I would prefer to be doing something other than heart studies!!
I have had a few episodes the past three months of some pretty intense chest pain/pressure and diaphoresis that lasted for several minutes. The first one was on the acupuncture table with Dr. Wu out of the room and I had 60 needles in my face! I thought at one point I was going to have to get up and get help, but eventually the pain subsided. I was visualizing me stumbling into the hall at the office with little children there and me holding my chest with all those needles in my face like Pinhead from Hellraiser! Those parents would be paying therapy bills for years after their kids witnessed that! I had 2 more incidents like that and the last one was yesterday morning.
As usual our day was busy, busy, busy at the office. But eventually I got my nurse to do an EKG on me. Words can’t describe Dr. Kalb’s face when I asked him to read the EKG for me, and when he was told it was mine. He immediately had Maggie redo it thinking that the leads must have been switched. Same results, different nurse. I had a new patient waiting to be seen, and as we all know….hormones trump cardiac events in a time like this! When the patient ask me how I was doing I thought it best that I not tell her “I think I’ve had a heart attack recently and all hell is breaking lose outside this door”, instead I smiled and said “great, and you?” Dr. Kalb proceeds to tell me in his diplomatic way after I saw the patient that “it seems you have had one major or a few minor heart attacks at some point.”. What the heck? Apparently as I was meeting the new patient he was on the phone with cardiology and when I came out of the room he had an appointment for me to get to Vandy stat! I am driving down the road with my EKG that says something about at a left anterior block etc…..and wondering who the heck will get my kids after school!
Decided to quickly call my parents to get a family history, since I had never really thought much about it in my 45 years of life. First shocker and cause for 2 more cardiac events in my heart was that my maternal grandfather was the 13th person in the US to have open heart surgery here in Nashville, and both of his brothers (my uncles) died suddenly of cardiac arrest before the age of 49! My sweet mother says, didn’t you know that he died “in the middle of Kentucky Fried Chicken delivering milk”…well hell no I didn’t know anyone died of cardiac arrest, much less 2 uncles! My mother does have pretty severe mitral valve prolapse as well (which I was aware of). My father proceeds tell me that his father died at the age of 49 in the backseat of the car as grandmother was driving on vacation of a sudden cardiac arrest! None of these relatives had any idea they had heart problems!!! For crying out loud….here I am driving on I65 to get to Vandy and suddenly find out that I have 5 relatives (and not distant ones at that) and 3 of them had no warning at all, with heart problems!
I was in the exam room within 5 minutes of walking into the cardiology department….divine intervention indeed! Dr. Irani was impressed with my family history (his words, not mine). He is impressed and I am horrified! He said that with a history like that I automatically have 3 risks factors for heart disease no matter what my EKG says. My repeat EKG shows some sort of event, but not as bad as the one at the office showed! Praise God, but he did send me for an ECHO and told me we would either be going directly to have a heart cath or have a nuclear stress test today. Thank God, I am off to have a stress test and not the cath! Besides, I argued with him that I would prefer to have the cath in the daytime when the doctor and staff are fresh and not in the evening when everyone is tired! He wasn’t amused and let me know that I was not in charge of when or if I get the cath!
Moral of this story is that it’s a good idea to have a good family history for all disease!! Not just heart disease….the time to find out your family is riddled with sudden cardiac events is not when you are on your way to the cardiologist!!
The kicker to this is that I am healthier now than I have ever been! I have been detoxifying my life and body for the past year. Working on my adrenal glands and hormones as well as well training for the ½ marathon. My life has been focused on my children, my God and my health since getting out of school and burning the candle at both ends for way too many years! My hope is that it’s not too late to reverse whatever is going on! But in case it is, I am getting a mani/pedi today and my house is clean…just in case! All joking aside, when it’s time to go, doesn’t matter if your toenails are painted or your toilet is clean….when it’s time it’s time! Better be ready!!

PS: I got a new patient yesterday while waiting to see the cardiologist! Dr. Irani’s nurse asked for my card and is making an appointment! Whoohoo!!

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