I retired in 2010 from Boeing. I guess I didn’t maintain an active enough lifestyle after retiring because I went from have almost perfectly clean coronary arteries about ten years ago to have a heart attack on June 10, 2013.
I was home alone after Jean and I had returned from our first trip in our “new” motorhome. Over the weekend on that trip, I had walked and bicycled a good bit without any ill effects seemingly. That Monday morning was relaxing, sleeping until I woke up naturally though I did wake up with my wrists aching a bit. I simply figured it was from the bicycling we’d done over the weekend.
I puttered around a bit then prepared to clear the motorhome of stuff from the weekend trip but about the time I did, my wrists were hurting more and more. The the pain began moving up my arms and I began to consider that I may be having a heart attack. When my chest began to hurt I decided I was certainly most likely having an attack. I called 911, heard the siren of the aid car as it left the fire station about 1-½ miles away, then went outside and sat on the front stoop after locking the front door. Apparently I scrawled a note saying “heart attack” and left it on the kitchen table also though I don’t remember doing that. The elapsed time between my getting out of bed and calling 911 was only about an hour, the time from the more severe symptoms to my call was a matter of a few minutes. I was an EMT years ago (expired in 1978) so I had a pretty good idea what was happening.
The Firefighters arrived soon after I sat down on the stoop. The lead listened to me explain my symptomatic progression and told me he was was certain I was having a coronary. They wheeled me down the driveway in a chair to their unit, transferred me to the stretcher and put me into the aid car. About that time an engine arrived and another paramedic joined the lead in the aid car with me as we moved out to the nearest ER. On the way, they administered aspirin, nitroglycerin, and started an IV with saline while hooking me up to the EKG. My chest was hurting badly by then and I was soaked in sweat. The EKG was passed by telemetry to the ER and when we arrived there the ER attending said he was declaring an emergency so they could take me up to the cath lab to find and balloon the artery that was causing the heart attack. By this time, everything was becoming very foggy to me. I remember telling a nurse that I had a list of medications I was taking on my iPhone and telling her my pass code. I wasn’t, however, thinking clearly enough to ask them to call Jean to let her know what was going on. She was out of town with some friends.
My memory has a hole from about this point until waking up after the cath procedure when my first realization was that my chest didn’t hurt anymore and it was such a relief. I hadn’t had the often reported “elephant sitting on my chest” compression type of pain. It just hurt like hell along with my upper arms. I was told they were transferring me to Tacoma General for further treatment. At this point I was basically along for the ride with little to say about anything other than “OK”. I still failed to think about notifying Jean.
I remember an ambulance crew coming in, getting me set up for transport, and the very, very nice nurse that rode in the back with me to Tacoma General.
–To Be Continued–