Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Well, last week I made it through 3 FULL days of work. Thursday was a busy day....work, then the last home game of the season. After the game and 2 hours in the consession stand, I got home, exhausted! About 8 pm, the chest pain started. Clearly, my 12 hour day had been too much. I slept restlessly off and on all night.

I woke Friday with continued chest pain. I had hoped (ok, I was grasping at straws) that getting on with my day would make things settle in. Let the meds work, and I'd be fine. Ummmm...yeah....no. After a 9:00 am call to Dr. Heaven's office, DH was whisking me again to the ER. Ugh.

I was in the ER for 8 long hours as they tried to find me a bed in an already-at-capacity hospital. Blood enzymes were "fine", meaning no heart attack. So, after a LONG day, and increased meds, I was sent home. Saturday was dicey--the migraines were pretty rough. I was in and out of bed all day.

Sunday was my birthday. I managed to avoid headaches for the most part. I enjoyed church and lunch out before hitting the couch to rest.

Monday--more chest pain. Dr. Heaven decides to increase the meds--again. So, today I start a dose that is 4 times what last Thursday's dose was. Waiting to see what that means in terms of migraines. I am going to work--hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. Pray for me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hospital Pictures

Some pictures that Josh took while I was in the hospital in Bloomington--I guarantee that I am looking quite a bit better than this these days ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Living life.....

As I mentioned before, I am supposed to just "live" for the next few weeks and see how my body reacts. So....I am living. Going to work. Going to the grocery store. Running the boys to and from practice. Making dinner. Living.

And.....it's hard. Going to church this morning was absolutely exhausting. And the upcoming week frightens me. Lots going on and I don't want to miss any of the important stuff. Like teaching my students. Going to Josh's games. Feeding the family. Listening to Jake practice his piece for contest. Spending time with them. But, after all of the "have-to's" are over, there is no energy left for the "want-to's". Like today--DH and the boys went to his mom's for her birthday party. I stayed behind to rest, rather than spend a rare day with DH and the boys. Hopefully, in time, the stamina to do more than "live life" will return.

In the meantime, I will try to make the energy I have count. Use it for what is important.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back in the saddle (and I didn't fall out, yet..)

I made it through my first morning at work :) My kiddos seemed glad to have me back, as did the staff. I had NO idea how tired I would be! I came home after a half day and slept hard for an hour and a half, waking to pick up Jake from school and rush to Josh's game across town. (Not going to write much about the game, since they lost and the gym was crowded, hot and smelly.)

The headaches are much more managable--Praise God! So, things are looking up somewhat :) I stay on this dose of the meds until I see Dr. Heaven the cardiologist on February 2nd. I spoke with the nurses in his office, and I am just supposed to "live life"--go to work, go to the grocery store, run the kids all over town....but avoid things like shoveling snow, doing a lot of stairs, carrying heavy loads, etc. until we see how my heart is responding to "life".

So....I am heading out....to "live life".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An update....

Soooo.....one hospital stay wasn't enough. I had to check out the accommodations here in town, too! Wednesday, January 6th, I was planning on visit school, have lunch with friends, and take in a Tiger's basketball game. But, chest pains put a kink in that plan. After a few calls to doctor's offices, it was decided I should head to the ER. The boys were at school, and Ken was off, so he took me to Carle. As soon as I said the words "chest pain" and "recent heart attack", I was in a wheelchair, being whisked to a treatment room. The EKG was "abnormal", which was a change from the ones done in Bloomington (they had all been "normal"). After three nurses, 5 needles, and 4 blown veins, I had an IV. They treated my chest pain with oxygen and morphine and was told I was being admitted. Since pouting did no good, I tried to get comfortable while Ken grabbed some lunch. A friend who worked at the hospital stopped by the ER to see me, and noticed that my arm (where the IV was) was covered in hives. We called the nurses, who determined the morphine had irritated my veins. After a bit, I was moved to a room on the Telemetry Floor, into the the hands of the heaven-sent Nurse Angel.

Nurse Angel got me settled, as I urged Ken to head out to the basketball game. The doctors came in and out, trying to make decisions on how to proceed. The intervention cardiologist and the cardiologist overseeing my care decided that they wanted to do an immediate cardiac cath. Immediate means.....when they get the team ready and all of the blood tests are done ;) The test that held them up? A pregnancy test, LOL! My dear friend Tina came to sit with me while I waited for the cath. One of the techs came in and told me, "If you can assure me you have not been attacked by some vicious sperm, we'll go ahead with the cath." After my assurance, they wheeled me off, Tina and I giggling the whole way.

In the cath lab, I'd like to tell ya I know everything that went on. I was awake for what I believed to be the whole thing. Truth is, Versed is good stuff, and if I was awake, I don't remember much. But, the good news is (here is where God really showed up), my heart started to go into another heart attack. Yes, that is good news! That means the doctors actually saw what was going on, and they were able to stop it, and learn from it.

So, here's the scoop. I have a condition (no idea if it has a name) that causes my vessels to constrict. What was happening in my heart is that the vessels were kinking, like one would kink off a hose, completely cutting off the blood supply to the heart, causing a heart attack. When it happened in the cath lab, they shot some nitro in through the cath, and it opened up immediately, showing the doctors that I would respond to that medication. They said my arteries were "pristine"--that, if there was a 50% blockage as the hospital in Bloomington had found, it was no longer there (probably had broken loose and "digested" by the body).

Now, for the treatment--sigh--the hard part. I have to be on medication for a LONG time to prevent this form happening again. The medication (named Imdur, in case you want to look it up) keeps the vessels from constricting. Here is where my migraine medication (Imitrex) comes in. It is a vessel dilator, which makes my condition worse. The Imdur will actually cause migraines, until my body gets used to it. My first dose, given on Thursday, made me want to crawl out of my skin!! The headache was soooo awful, and there was not much that could be used to treat the pain. They tried morphine again, though Nurse Angel was cautious, after my reaction in the ER. Not more than 2 cc's were in, and the hives began. Allergic reactions garner a quick response by a lot of people, in this case 4 nurses and 1 doctor! After some meds to fight the reaction, I was back to my agony once again.

They fought the migraine throughout the night, with packing my head in ice, IV meds, until it finally subsided. The doctor decided to keep me in the hospital an extra day, keep me on the heart monitors, and skip the next dose to let me rest. I slept on and off most of Friday. They gave me more meds to continue to treat the migraines, but there was a problem with the IV. It had infiltrated, so essentially it most of the migraine meds had been pumping into my muscle, and it wasn't until the meds began to soak my bed that the nurse noted a problem. (Nurse Angel had the day off, and I missed her immensely). After blowing another 3 veins trying to get a working IV, they put in a "midline" which was described as "essentially a central line" into my upper arm, and I was a happy camper. Meds can be given through it, and blood taken from it. No more sticks!

Saturday, I was up, showered, dressed, and pacing the halls. About 10 am, Nurse Angel gave me a half-dose of Imdur, intending to let me "hang out" until noon, to see if a headache would develop. At noon, the pain was minimal, and I was sent home. I rested, feeling he headache mounting. The boys were invited to a friend's house for an overnight, which was a reprieve, since the pain had gotten out of control. About 7:30 p.m. Ken took me to Convenient Care, since I was miserable. The doctor there reluctantly agreed to give me shots to fight the migraine, stating that I would need to talk to my doctor before any more would be given. Shots on board, I finally was able to sleep.

Sunday, I put a lot of thought into my situation. I devised a plan to get my body used to the Imdur, hopefully without losing my mind. Imdur is supposed to be taken in the morning, and will last 18 hours, with the remaining 6 hours (while you're sleeping) giving your body a break so it does not develop a resistance to the drug. I decided to start taking it in the evening, and beg the doctor for a sleep aid to help me sleep through the pain. Each night, I take the medication a little earlier. So far, my plan is working. From the information I have been able to find, it takes about 2 weeks for the body to adjust. My fingers are crossed, and my prayers are continuously being sent up that this process will work.

In the mean time, I am working a couple half days this week, see the cardiologist on Monday, then hope I will be fully "back in the saddle" on Tuesday, back in my classroom, where I belong!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Year's Eve...or how NOT to ring in the New Year

So, once I came back from the cath lab, I was worn out and ready to sleep. I dozed on and off throughout the day. Ken left to head back to Urbana to collect the kids and some supplies for a couple of days. Until this point, I had held it together pretty well. But, once Ken left, I broke down for the first time. I felt entitled to a few tears, and indulged. The doctor came in while I was crying, and agreed to another dose of Adavan to prepare me for the arrival of the kids and my parents, who were making the two hour drive. The Adavan and the extreme fatigue lead me to sleep most of the day, unfortunately missing much of my parents' (and brother's) visit.

I was glad to be allowed to eat, though. I hadn't eaten since the popcorn at the game on Wednesday afternoon--was that really just yesterday?? So much had happened, it seemed impossible that several days had not past.

Ken and the boys secured a hotel room for the night. They left to have dinner and swim for a while. I was awake throughout the evening--watching TV and indulging in a shower. The nurse stopped my IV meds, but left the ports in, just in case. They also switched me to a portable monitor, which meant I could get to the bathroom with little trouble (though I won't say little effort, because, at this point, EVERYTHING took effort). The shower was wonderful. The nurse changed my bedding, and I slipped in between fresh sheet and watched TV the rest of the evening. About 10:30, I turned off the TV and lights, forgetting that it was New Year's Eve, banking on the nurse's promise not to bother me unless it was absolutely necessary. I slept hard, not even remembering being roused to take some meds at midnight.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Yes, Virginia, it really was a heart attack...

Well, actually, it was 2 heart attacks. Let me start at the beginning.....

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec 28-30) was the Epiphany Tournament in Normal, IL, for Josh's basketball team. Monday night's game was a win, Tuesday's was a loss, which meant Wednesday's game was a competition for third place. Josh headed over early with the team on the bus, and Jake and I followed a little while later. Honestly, I was in a bit of a lethargic, grumpy mood that morning, and wished I could have stayed home. But, there was no good reason for me to miss Josh's game, so, like a good mom, I herded Jake into the car and headed to Normal. Not knowing the team's after-game plans, I had promised Josh I would take him to Avanti's after the games.

Jake and I arrived, and the game started out well. I was glad to see some of the boys on the court who hadn't got much playing time. In the third quarter, one of the boys was on a fast break, but the ball was batted away by the opponent, bouncing in front of him. He jumped and came down on ball, and the "snap" silenced the gym. The poor kiddo just laid there, unmoving. Seconds later, everyone realized the gravity of the situation, and stopped the game, called 911, and asked if there was a doctor in the building. I couldn't fight my mom instinct any longer, and headed over to the bench, since all of the coaches were on the floor with the injured boy. As I scanned the bench for Josh's face, I caught him looking at me, with a face as pale as his white home jersey. I mouthed the words "are you ok?" and he shook his head. I sent him into the locker room to splash water on his face and collect himself. I told a teammate to go with him, in case he happened to need assistance, all the while smiling inwardly...thinking that Josh does take after me in some ways, how he was hurting for his teammate.

Time seemed to drag on as we all waited for the ambulance. The PA announcer asked that the owner of the tan Toyota Camry please move their car, as it may be in the way of the ambulance's exit. Dang it! My car! I ran, probably faster than I have in a long time, to the parking lot and moved the car. As I was heading into the gym, the ambulance arrived, and the young man was whisked off to the hospital, accompanied by the 8th grade coach's wife.

I settled in to watch the rest of the game, smiling at Jake while he played with another younger brother from the team. The thought that kept popping in my head was, "I feel so bad for him, but I am so glad that it was not my son who was hurt. Does that make me a terrible person for thanking God for my son being whole?" The Tigers finished out the final quarter, winning the game, shouting their injured teammate's name in their celebratory chants.

During the game, a plan had come together to take to boys to a local pizza place to celebrate after the 8th grade game. My heart was hurting for the young man in the hospital, and in an attempt to find a way I could help, I decided to head over to the hospital to see what I could do. I mentioned it to Shelley, another mom. She volunteered to ride along, arranging with her husband for Jake to stay with him through the game, agreeing to meet up when the game was finished. Shelley and I headed to the hospital, not far from the school.

As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, I started to notice a pain in my chest, along the left side of my sternum. I knew my blood pressure had to be high--adrenaline was pounding through my veins. I figured I was just having a bit of a panic attack, wishing I had something with me to take to calm myself down. Forging ahead, we located the emergency department and found the young man's room.

The coach's wife was alone in the room, as he had been taken to xray. I plopped in the chair, feeling nauseous and sweaty. I pulled off my sweatshirt, not caring that I was left sitting in a camisole in front of people I barely knew. I pulled the garbage can closer, sure I was about to lose my cookies...again, not caring who was watching. Coach's wife began to fan me, then Shelley put a cold towel on the back of my neck. I asked a tech standing outside the room to take my blood pressure. It was 157/103. Yikes! Soon, as I was trying to laugh off my symptoms, the young man's mother called, and Shelley went out to meet them. A few minutes later, Shelley called my cell phone and asked me to head out where we had come in to look for his mother. I wandered out to the waiting area. I sat down, a bit disoriented. I pulled out my phone to call my doctor, then realized that was silly. I was in a hospital! So, instead, I called Ken, told him what was going on, and that I was going to have the ER doctors look me over. I stumbled into the triage office, and explained what was going on. They signed me in and placed me in a room 2 doors down from our player's room.

When I got in the room, the nurse tossed me a gown and told me to change. I put on the gown and laid on the bed....alone. Soon, Shelley walked down the hall and spotted me laying there. I explained that I had decided to get looked at, and she was shocked that I had not been seen yet. She was politely assertive with the staff, requesting that I be seen by someone. They took their time before they checked my vitals, drew blood, and ordered an EKG due to the chest pain. The doctor described the results of the EKG as "O.K." without a lot of enthusiasm. I asked what comes next. He explained that unexplained chest pain would probably earn me an overnight stay. I called Ken and asked him to come over, knowing that he would have to find someone to cover him at work. Shelley, Jackie (the coach's wife) and I joked and told stories, keeping the atmosphere light, all the while trying to find out more about our player down the hall. Turns out, the poor kiddo broke his femur, and decisions were being made about where he should be transferred to and how they would move him. Jackie ran out to the pizza place where the team was to grab dinner for his family.

Once she returned, again, the three of us chatted, waiting for time to pass. Not long after, the doctor returned and said, "According to the blood tests, you are having an heart attack". I think I looked at him like he had 2 heads, because that just couldn't be. He said that they were going to put me on nitroglycerin, aspirin, and oxygen. Shelley inched closer to my bed, and grasped my hand, which was exactly what I needed at that time. Soon after, the room got more active as the nurses got things moving. By this time, the pain had somewhat subsided, but I do think I was somewhat in shock, so that may be part of why I was so calm.

I asked Shelley to call Ken, and ask how far out he was, but not to tell him anything yet. I didn't want him to get that kind of news while he was on the road. I also asked that her husband take the kids to eat with the team, then bring my kids to me at the hospital. He was under strict instructions not to tell them I was sick, so they wouldn't worry. I really wanted them to enjoy the celebration.

In the meantime, the nurse had put me on oxygen and nitro and given me an aspirin. The head of the cardiology department was called in, and he arrived quickly, in his sweats :) He and the ER doctor volleyed ideas back and forth, considering what was going on and my lack of risk factors. They decided to do a chest xray and chest CT to check for clots in the lungs. Before those were done, Ken arrived, and I broke the news to him. Shortly after, the boys arrived, surprised to see me in the bed. The ER doctor came in and talked to them, letting them know I was sick, but would be ok. After some discussion, it was decided that the boys would go home with Shelley and her family, Ken would stay with me, and we would check out the situation in the morning.

I was taken to my room, IV's started, numerous EKG's done, and settled in. I was a little on edge, and the nurse gave me some Adavan to help me "chill out". I felt that warm, relaxing feeling take over, and was able to stop the mind from racing.

(This section is mostly from Ken's report on what happened, as I don't really remember):
About 2 in the morning, I asked Ken to uncover my feet, as I was extremely hot, nauseous and agitated. He uncovered my feet then went to the hall to get the nurse. She and another nurse worked on me, called the cardiologist, who came back in, and also called in the doctor who does the heart caths. They consulted and decided I was headed to the cath lab, since the blood tests were showing that I was having another heart attack, this one much worse than the first. Ken described me looking "as he would imagine me to look if I was dead". The cath doctor went with Ken and I to the cath lab, explaining to Ken all of the risks and what could happen as I was being prepped. Then Ken was left alone in the waiting room....I can't even imagine how hard that had to be.

So, what I remember about the cath lab experience- someone saying that they were giving me some Versed (yeah!), the monitors in the room, someone shaving the area where they were going to cut, the nurse applying pressure when it was all done, and someone asking if I wanted a leg brace to remember not to move my leg.

Well, while that is not the end of the story, I shall stop here and post more later. This post is already too long, and I would be surprised if anyone gets this far.