At least that’s how far I was into heart failure when I walked under my own power into the emergency room at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center (MMC) on October 13.
When I last posted I informed all of you that I had a terrible bout of pneumonia. And I thought that was it. Except it didn’t get better with meds. It got worse. Much worse.
So much so that I went back to Howard Brown, my primary care health center in Chicago. I’m still not quite sure why, but a doctor there thought I should have an EKG.
After the first one the EKG tech and the doctor exchanged concerned looks and she said to run it again. Apparently it was just as worrisome the second time around because they told me I needed to go to the emergency room at MMC.
I rejected the idea of an ambulance — remember all I thought I had was an intractable case of pneumonia — and hopped into a taxi and asked the driver to take me to the emergency room at MMC.
Cardiac Catheterization Lab
The taxi driver, being nice, said he hoped nobody I knew was too terribly sick, to which I said, “It’s not somebody else. It’s me,” after which he quickly asked me in a roundabout way whether I was going to drop dead in his taxi. Admittedly that would be a bummer.
I said no, that I felt fine, and then he took me to the wrong hospital.
We finally made it to MMC where I was checked in for tests, which led to an echocardiogram, which led to three cardiologists standing at the foot of the bed in the ER looking incredulous that I made it to the hospital under my own power and that I was still even conscious.
My heart was pumping at 10% capacity. Put the opposite way, 90% of my heart was not working properly.
A few days later and I was discharged last night.
Some mysteries remain, the first one being how I was still walking around. My docs finally decided it was because my underlying state of health was so good, my body was efficient enough to still make me mobile with only 10% cardiovascular capacity. If I were an obese smoker who never exercised, things would have been much worse. And it would have gotten much worse had someone at Howard Brown not had the idea to give me an EKG.
The other mystery is why my heart was giving out. We will never know the exact answer. But my cardiologists have conjectured:
I have had a heart valve murmur since birth. That might have been the likely beginning of this, along with the fact that the virus that gave me pneumonia also attacked my heart and made a chronic condition gravely acute.
Whatever it was, they think it happened fairly recently — within the last two weeks — since the chances that I would have walked around or even survived for long with only 10% heart pumping capacity are not good.
Whatever the reasons, I feel lucky to have had friends who came to visit me. You are the best.
What now? I’m taking nine new medications. If I take these as I should and watch my diet, this will likely be enough to repair most or all of the damage to my heart. I was lucky to have been within taxi distance of a Level One Cardiac Trauma Center with a staff of top cardiology doctors and nurses. I cannot say enough good things about this hospital.
My personal training days are over for a bit, but I can live with that.
Back to regular blogging this afternoon.
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center