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I love long acting nitrates- August 18, 2009

August 26, 2009

The first week in August, I was out of town, on vacation with my family. When I got back, I slept more than anything. I’d begun feeling worse the last two days of the trip. I knew I’d overdone it, but I had a great time! By Wednesday of last week, I was taking 6-8 nitro’s a day and needing more. Waves of nausea and dizziness setting off a dull chest pressure that by Thursday never went away. I finally said, ‘It’s time to go to the hospital.”

I wasn’t really frightened. I was tired. I was tired of the diligence it was taking to maybe stay alive. I was worn out making sure I didn’t walk too many steps or up an incline. I was exhausted from gauging when to take another nitro, when to lie down, how close I was to fainting. I was tired of taking my blood pressure. I was weary from balancing not scaring my family vs. letting them know enough vs. validating for them what they really already knew but were afraid to say.

I had switched cardiologists. I’d seen the new one twice, plus a stress test visit. He worked out of a different hospital too. That’s where we went. (Now, I’ll explain why we did not call 911. One, I did not think I was having an MI. I thought I needed help with my unstable angina, beta blocker adjustment, constant nitro, something else. A 911 call would probably get me taken to a very undesirable hospital.)

The nice thing about having such a colorful cardiac history (however brief) is that you are taken very seriously at the ER. Before the valet had parked our car I was hooked up to an EKG machine. It looked good. I stayed in the ER for several hours, getting the standard IV heparin drip, blood tests and such. My new cardio was out of town, but another doctor in his group came to see me. In fact, he spent well over half an hour in my little ER cubbyhole. He didn’t think I was having an MI, just feeling the effects of arteries that weren’t open all the way on my heart that was in a constant state of oxygen deprivation.

I spent the night and most of the next day in the Telemetry Unit. The nurse on the night shift was especially pleasant and attentive. She also took my symptoms very seriously. I finally stopped telling her every time I felt any chest pressure because she kept doing EKG’s each time. She also asked me about my earliest symptoms, before the bypass, saying that she’d heard that women experienced different symptoms than men. Was the first symptom nausea as she’d heard? My head’s still spinning from that question. I know I’ve learned a lot these past few months and I’ve done a lot of research, but I still would expect a cardiac nurse to know more than me. At least as much?
I was discharged with orders to double my beta blocker, a RX for Isordill and one for Niaspan to hopefully raise my HDL. I have to say here too, that after less than eight months in the world of heart disease, I have learned so much, most of it on WomenHeart by the way, that I did indeed know exactly what I needed. I’m still amazed by that!

I spent the night in hell, thanks to the Niaspan. I won’t go into detail but will just say that after I literally cried in pain for hours, Lisa flushed the rest of them down the toilet. At least she tried. They settled at the bottom, not flushing. Finally, after about thirty six hours, they dissolved and flushed away. I can say the one I took had no trouble dissolving in me.

As bad as the Niaspan was, the Isordill and double Lopressor have been as wonderful. I’m still tired, but I hadn’t realized I’d been in constant dull pain until it finally quit hurting. It seems to wear off after 10-11 hours, so that period around when I take them is dicey, but overall, I feel a million times better. I find myself giggling just because I feel so good.

While in the hospital, we had a very candid conversation with the cardiologist before I went home. My heart is still in good shape. But had this been an MI, the likelihood of being able to get in there and open a blockage is pretty nill right now. So, opening those other arteries is vital, not just so I can walk. The ER nurse also encouraged me to “pop in and get an EKG anytime…no need to worry and wonder if it’s a heart attack.” Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

But for now, I feel like my entire vascular system just got a stent! I love Isordill! I still have a little pain, but it’s not constant and I’ve had no nausea and only a tad of dizziness.

I was supposed to speak on Sunday. I wrote it out instead and Lisa read it. My friend Lidia on WomenHeart wrote  a piece on Appreciation. That was my inspiration. I had to share her grandmother joke. “When I die, I want to peacefully in my sleep like my grandmother, not screaming, like the passengers in her car.” Lisa said everyone was crying all the way through it and then that joke. I’ve heard that a fear of death is really under every fear. This disease has at least brought that up for discussion. I handle it best when the tears are followed by a good joke and twisted humor. All those unsaid things discussed on WomenHeart…faced head on then laughed at then denied again until another day.

Well, that’s my latest adventure in abbreviated form. I know I’ll get all philosophical at some point. Right now I’m pain free and tired.

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