For some time, I had been getting chest pains. Like any sensible person, I saw my doctor. He referred me to a specialist who did a treadmill stress test. The results at that time shoved no immediate threat. Over the next year and a bit, things went from bad to downright nasty.
By the time I saw my doctor again, the pain was so severe I couldn’t walk for five minutes without stopping to rest. Two or three times.
So my doctor referred me back to the same cardiologist who administered the same stress test. This time the results were a bit more spectacular. He immediately referred me to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute at the Civic Hospital here in Ottawa. Priority is determined by severity. I’d heard stories of people who had waited six to eight months to get an appointment. I had my first appointment a month later. This to me was a very bad sign.
The appointment was for an angiograph. For this procedure, they thread a needle through a major artery in either the groin or wrist. (Please oh please let it be the wrist). They run it up to the heart, pump in some dye and look at how the blood is moving through the heart. Or mostly not in my case.
They managed to tap the radial artery in my wrist (I LOVE working with professionals!). Just so you know, they want you awake for the whole procedure. All the drugs you want, but still awake. They get the dye in and start telling me just how bad it is. Some of the major arteries in the left side of my heart are over ninety percent blocked. They need to put in stents to open them back up. They do that. It hurts. I get more drugs.
In total, I’ve now got four stents in my heart. I can walk to work without any pain in my chest. I can go up stairs without grabbing my chest like Redd Foxx in Sanford & Son. Long story short, I’ve got a new lease on life. Literally.
An interesting phrase that one. “A new lease on life”. Like any lease, some terms and conditions apply. One of those conditions involves making some fairly significant changes in my life. Eat healthier. In my case, the main change involves gelting my diabetes under control. HUGE risk factor for heart attack there. Ten years ago I quit smoking (Soooo glad I don’t have to deal with quitting that too). Giving up sugar makes tobacco look like a walk in the park. So that’s a work in progress. Lot’s of work, not so much with the progress. But I’m sticking with it. A lot of highly skilled people spent years of their lives learning how to prevent me from dying. I’d feel a bit of a berk if I wasted all that (not to mention feeling a bit dead as well).
I’ve also got to walk more, eat less and learn to let go of my stress. Some goals are easier than others. I probably shouldn’t stress about it though. That’s one of the terms of the lease. Let’s face it, leasing isn’t the same as owning. If you lease a car, they’re not going to be happy if you paint it chartreuse before you hand it back at the end of the lease. The same thing applies to my heart now. A lot of people now have a vested interest in my health, and that gives them a big say in the terms of that new lease. That’s probably a good thing given how I handled things as the sole owner. Maybe I’ve learned to treat myself a little better. Hopefully, I’ve learned something from all this. But what is the big picture lesson here?
Well, I’ve learned that my doctor is probably with the mafia. Every time I see him, he tells me that if I don’t do what he says I’m going to die. But that’s really not too “big picture”. The big picture is actually a bit more cliched. You never really know just how long you’ve got. After it was all done, I was talking to one of my doctors and he told me I was one bad decision away from a major heart attack. A few months later, I turned fifty. I might not’ve made it that far. I might not have been there for my daughters eventual wedding, or my hypothetical grandchildren, or to grow old with my wife.
There’s a lot things that I still want to do. If take proper care of this new lease, there’s no reason I can’t do all of them. So now I’m off to stick my belly full of insulin and get to bed… it’s one of the terms of the lease.