Who Is Your Favorite Cardiologist?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Well, it’s been a most unusual week on my planet. On Tuesday, I went to my doctor about some recurring chest pain I’d been having. He gave me an EKG and a complete physical. He told me that there had been some changes since my last EKG (in 1985), and then asked me something I greatly hope that not one of you ever gets asked. He asked me, who was my favorite cardiologist?

Pills

I allowed as how I didn’t know one cardiologist, and I’d never given the question a moment’s thought.

So I said that my father-in-law, who is 85, had a cardiologist I’d never met. I’d take his. My doc said go. That was Tuesday

Early Wednesday morning, I found myself in the cardiologist’s office. He turned out to be like my doctor, warm and informative. His assistant hooked me up to another more complex EKG machine. Then they gave me an “echocardiogram”, that was fascinating. I could see my heart beating, and watch the valves open and close … astounding.

However, when the cardiologist read the EKG and echocardiogram charts, he told me that I’d suffered a heart attack. He said it was an inferior myocardial infarction. Inferior? Really? I have a heart attack, and it’s second-rate?

He made an appointment with the surgeons for the next morning. He said said they would thread a tube through my veins into my heart, release some dye, and take pictures to see exactly what was going on. 

But there was more. He said they did the whole thing in one go—after the dye test, if the plumbing was clogged, they’d likely put in a stent.

stent insertion

Diagram Source

He also said that if it was really bad, they’d cut me open right there and and do bypass surgery … dangalang, that’s not the kind of thing a man wants to hear, and certainly not before 10 AM. He gave me some nitroglycerine pills to take home with me … that was Wednesday.

Thursday I checked in to the cardio unit at the local hospital, accompanied as usual by my gorgeous ex-fiancee, who is a Family Nurse Practitioner and my main medical squeeze. First thing, they shucked me out of my clothes and had me put on one of those hospital gowns, the kind I call “fundamentally drafty” because the draft is on … anyhow, the nurse was asking me all these questions and came to “Are you taking any medications on a regular basis?” I said no … she said “Really? We hardly ever see anyone in here who isn’t taking some regular medication”. 

“Not me,” sez I, “not even aspirin.”

She looked at me with a wry smile and said matter-of-factly “Well … that’s over.” 

Dang.

The surgeon came in, again a warm and encouraging man. He said if they could put the catheter in through my arm and I had to get a stent, I could go home that day. But if they went in through the groin, I’d have to stay overnight.

“OK,” I said, I was only a pawn in the game at that point.

So they took me away to the Operating Room, and I woke up with a stent in my heart. They put it in through the arm, so that same day I came home. That was Thursday.

The whole crazy sequence of events has been relatively painless, except for my arm where they put in the catheter. That still aches, but that’s minor. And I’m enjoined from pounding nails or lifing anything heavy or doing anything strenuous for a week.

So no condolences or the like are necessary. I count myself among the most fortunate of men. Heck, since I can’t work at house building, I’m free to do more research and writing, what’s not to like? …

What do I take from all of this?

Well, it sure was great to wake up after going under. And it is always good to be reminded of my mortality. It let me know that I need to keep the pedal pressed firmly to the floorboard, and that I need to produce during my days, for the night is assuredly headed my way, wherein no man can produce …

Finally, it is very strange to think that I have a piece of metal mesh in my heart … first step to being a cyborg?

I go back to see my new favorite cardiologist on Friday.

My best to everyone,

w.

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Alan Robertson

Getting old takes courage.
Glad to hear it all went well.

tobyglyn

This aging thing really sucks doesn’t it. Hopefully, perhaps with the help of a few tech upgrades, you’ll last as long as you feel you want to stay here. Very best from Sydney!

Brian H

Fortunate it wasn’t cancer. Of the 8 people I know who did, all suffered terribly from chemo, and died. Bad odds on that small (but personally impressive) sample. One was my next younger brother.

JonasM

I’ve learned that, after 40, the warranty has expired, and all bets are off.
Glad it all went well.

Theo Goodwin

The vigor with which you live your life has always astounded me. Now you have to slow down a bit and someday you might slow to a more ordinary pace, but I doubt it. Sounds like the “refurb” job was a one time fix that you can forget about. I pray that it is. My best wishes to you and yours. You remain the hero for our time.

I hope you have a speedy and complete recovery!

Steve from Rockwood

Only Willis could make a second-rate heart attack sound funny. My best wishes for a full recovery.

Dennis

If you’re interested in investigating a rather cheaper and less traumatic alternative which Dr Linus Pauling claimed to be effective for such conditions as well as having long-term preventive benefits, you might like to research the Pauling protocol.
Either way, I’m also glad to hear it went well.

Sweet Old Bob

Yes, getting old sucks, but it sure beats the alternative!
Best wishes!

DavidA

Glad it went well! Hope the stent does its work for a very long time without reminding you it’s there!

RockyRoad

We have a favorite saying in our extended family:
“Getting old is not for the timid.”
I’m glad your favorite cardiologist took good care of you, Willis!

wsbriggs

Willis
Sorry to hear of you cardio problems. I can totally relate having just recovered from an interesting 8 year bout with congestive heart failure. You probably already eat beaucoup fish, so I’d guess fish oil is one of the reasons you are still with us.
As far as continuously taking medicine for the rest of your life, that depends on what you do now that you are mortal. I hated to face that, but every day I wake up now is a great day!

Bob

Willis,
Sorry to hear about you heart attack. Great term that. I am dang near 61 and I had a minor stroke. Three weeks later a high school classmate had the real McCoy. I will spare you the details of both, but I think both of us have put a lot of miles on the system, and I doubt either of us got Niall of our oil changes, and regular maintenance. I enjoy your writing a great deal, so for my sake, I am hoping you take care of yourself. If you find you are headed to Lexington, Ky. Let me know

Don Easterbrook

Willis,
Sorry to hear of your heart problem and wish you all the best in recovering. Getting older is definitely not for sissies–good that they fixed it tho.
Many years ago, I was reminded by a friend that there are not an unlimited number of days to walk the high country, so do it now while you still can. We’ll have time later on for the rocking chair.
Don

LamontT

You will be assimilated.

Louis Hooffstetter

Get well soon Willis (by Friday at least!). Glad you got this done before your health insurance got cancelled and the ‘Death Panels’ kicked in. Let us know if President Obama sends you a get well card.

Bob

Uh “got in” all our oil changes. Sorry for not editing prior to posting

wayne

And after 60 not only has your warranty long expired but your self-sealing tires are starting to have cracks about the rims. 🙂
Wish you well Willis. Oh my, now you can write non-stop… but do remember what your doctor said, easy going.

Gene Selkov

How fortunate that you had actionable chest pain. I knew a few not-so-lucky men who dropped dead without any prior symptoms.
Don’t worry about the stent, if you’ve got just one. It doesn’t make you more of a cyborg than a crowned tooth.

Willis,
Be well my friend.
Best, Allan

All the best Willis, glad to see you’re already aware of the cloud’s silver lining, there’s one under every ‘cloud’.

Old Wolf

Sir? My best wishes for your continued, and improving health. Your writing is always exceptional, your stories are eye-opening, and your thoughts bring me to ponder.
I pray that the world may enjoy your continued presence for a very long time to come.

milodonharlani

I wondered why the blog hadn’t heard from you as much lately. Hope, as you suggest may be the case, that we’ll figuratively hear your stentorian tones again soon.

Richard Mallett

I hope that it works out OK for you. In the diagrams, I assume that the plaque is the blockage. When the stent has pushed it out of the way, where does it go ?

Severian

Sorry to hear that, but happy to hear of the successful outcome. I can empathize, been there, done that, got the stents and scar from open heart to prove it. No t-shirt dammit. Between the two, stents are far to be preferred to being split open like an oyster. But the plus side of either is it’s better than massive heart attack and/or death.
While getting older is better than a dirt nap, middle age ain’t for sissies that’s for sure.

John West

I’m certainly glad cardiac science hasn’t floundered like climate science.
Live long and pound nails.

Willis,
On the bright side, there probably wouldn’t be a bright side if this had happened thirty years ago. Medicine has come a long way.
Glad to hear you came through it OK. Take it easy, we need you. The world needs you.

BCbrowser

I’ve been physically active, just like you have judging from your posts, all my life. Then, on some cloudy day in June 2007, I did not surface when pushing off the end wall while doing laps in the local swimming pool. The heart apparently went in an arrhythmia, quivered, then stopped and had I been on the jogging trail while running (I used to run one day then swim the next), I’d be gone at that time. But the trained staff at the pool started a CPR and then the local firemen shocked my heart back into some more orderly pace.
Two weeks in the hospital, no it was not a heart attack in my case but more likely a rare infection that damaged the heart muscle and electric conduction inside and I ended up with an ICD in my chest. A little computer that shocks your heart when it wants to spin out of control and one that also paces your heart pretty well 100 % of time.
And you think you are on the first step to become a cyborg? Give me a break, lol.

Willis, are these stents metal or plastic?
Plastic I hope.
Prior to having an MRI, I had to do a full inventory of all my spare parts. I was told if any of them were metal, they could be sucked right out of my body by the gynormous magnets in the MRI machine. Not a happy thought.
Anyway, all were reputedly plastic, and this was happily verified when they turned on the MRI and I was not provided with a second fundament in a new location.
If you have a choice, ask for a plastic stent. Maybe you can get one in your favorite colour. 🙂

Steve Keohane

Good to hear it went so well Willis. Happy researching!

Chuck

I’ve learned that, after 40, the warranty has expired
Absolutely. We’re designed for 40 years with a design margin of about a factor of two. Hard living ala medieval peasant will put you under at 40 while, if you are so fortunate as to be born in a first world country, you might make it past 80.

u.k.(us)

“I go back to see my new favorite cardiologist on Friday.”
=========
Just don’t let it go to his head.

David L. Hagen

Good to hear its only mild “suffering”! As my Norwegian grandfather Chris used to say:
“Its the first hundred years that are tough. After that its not so bad!

dp

Do all you can to avoid statins (Lipitor, for example). If you are one of the people that has a bad reaction to it, it will make every muscle in your body ache, your legs grow weak, and you begin to consider looking at your insurance to see if death squads are covered by your policy. I’ve had a stent since 2005 and that is about the time I developed regular PVC. Nothing gets your attention faster. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

Relax, Willis, there’s nothing to worry about

The stent only solved the existing problem. It does not treat the cause. There are solutions for the cause. Individual research and conversations with your doctor are good starting points. Lifestyle chamges are in the offering.

TRBixler

Willis
Pleased to hear everything went well. I always enjoy your missives.

pokerguy

Best writing I’ve seen from you, Willis. As a writer myself, I appreciate that kind of thing, Might seem beside the point, but perhaps not. Nothing like a sneak peak at the ‘ol grim reaper to humble a man. Came through loud and clear, and to fine literary effect.
Wishing you good health and a speedy recovery.

Albert Wetterstroem

I’ve got 5 stints (4 at one time) but none for the last 13 years. The healing is straight forward, no worries! Live life to the fullest – one never knows…
Enjoy your columns immensely – God speed!

Tom in Florida

May we assume that there was no damage to the heart muscle? Just curious, did your cardiologist prescribe COQ10?

John Barnes

First, not all statins cause muscle pain. Second, I hope that now you’re taking aspirin, at low dose at least, or possibly even Plavix for now. But most of all, follow your doctor’s advice.

Lou

My favorite cardiologist that I never meet in person is Dr. Mike Davis from Wisconsin. Opened my eyes when it came to nutrition and heart disease. He wrote Wheat Belly Diet and Track Your Plaque. http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/ I just happened to come across his website a few years ago when I was doing some reading over vitamin D. As it turns out that it is excessive consumption of carbohydrate that keep your sugar blood level stay elevated that lead to high dangerous small LDL particles level that speed up the build up plaque build up…
All the scare stories we heard about saturated fat?… turned out to be a total bunk. Just like CO2-CAWG… Saturated fat actually increases your good HDL level. What does vitamin D have to do with this? Turns out that it helps increase your HDL level (we need much more vitamin D than what is currently recommended). http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/
Apparently, Paleo Diet or Wheat Belly will do wonders against diabetes type 2 which often involves heart disease. (Actual trials proved that you can reverse it as long as it is not severe).
Majority of us do not take enough vitamin D and magnesium every day. Best to invest in supplements for that. Will help a lot for the long haul. And cut out excessive carbohydrates from diet if possible.

Lew Skannen

I hope you are on the mend.
Sorry about the second rate heart attack. Not sure whether to hope for a better one next time…
By the way, do you think your cardio problem might be caused by global warming? It is just that there are so few things left which are not caused by global warming these days…

OssQss

All the best to you Willis!
It is always best to wake up and smell the roses and not be looking at their roots.
Insert “Borg Quote Here” ;-}

EO Peter

Happy to hear that intervention went well.
Stent take some time AFAIK to “integrate” w/t the “tubing” wall. Stick closely to given anti-coag med. & be attentive to early sign of “re-clogging”.
There was a post before talking about the Linus Pauling “stuff”. You have a reputation of being open minded, so I hope you will NOT ignore those controversial things from Pauling, especially the link between vit. C & blood vessel wall integrity. FYI Linus Pauling is one of the very few to earn TWO NOBEL (at least one is relevant), and is considered one of the “father” of molecular biology. It is my opignon that he was not going crazy in his final years & was on to something…
Seem also a good time to “study” at little on the subjet of Calcium, Magnesium & Potassium level in serum, possible effect of unbalanced ratio, supplementation, …
Good luck & keep the pump running.

William Sears

Best wishes for a complete recovery.

Take heart Willis (pun not intended) My father had a serious heart attack at age 67, but them went on to live a normal active life until cancer got him at the age of 90.

As I mentioned in my phone call to you, I’m glad you are still with us and on the way to recovery.
Sincerest wishes, Anthony

Brad

We have a magnetic that used to hang on my grandparent’s fridge, then on my parent’s, now on mine. It reads ‘Old age ain’t no place for sissies.’ I’ll see if I can find you a new one cause I’m too old to give you mine.

gnomish

and you’ll be in better shape than ever with better circulation!
my wife got 10 years younger from her stent.

Roguewave

The stint may get you to that happy place & time when Ray Kurzweil’s nanobots take over and Rotorooter out your veins properly.