21 Nov 18 is a red-letter day in my life. The date is etched permanently in big bold letters in my life history. I can say that I got my second birth this day. I remember having walked into the cardiology department of the hospital around 11.30am feelin a bit uneasy in the chest.
I had never thought it to be as serious as it turned out to be. An hour later the doctor had told my wife that I required immediate medical intervention. My both left arteries were fully blocked, and blood was barely trickling into the heart. By 4.30pm that the team of doctors had placed two stents and I was shifted to the ICU.
Living in denial….
This is what happens when we take our body and health for granted. The body was constantly sending me signals but I was refusing to read them. I preferred to live in denial refusing to accept that I can have any serious medical issue. I had my reasons to believe that as I am a vegetarian, teetotaler, non-smoker and at that point of time very regular with my daily workouts and 7 km walk. Having always maintained a healthy lifestyle, followed a well-controlled diet plan, had no life disease nor any family history of it also added to my confidence. The first lesson I learnt that day was that nothing guarantees you good health. Learn to read the adverse signals body sends and immediately see a doctor if you find something strange.
Events as they unfolded….
It was on 30 Oct 18 that I got the first signal. I got a severe gastric attack in the evening. Like any normal human I blamed it on something I might have consumed. But I failed to seek proper medical advice when the situation did not improve even after 4 days. I sought advise of a general medical practitioner who prescribed good old Ranitidine which brought no relief.
November 18 was full of festivities, Diwali on 7th, my marriage anniversary on 11th, daughter’s birthday on 12th and marriage of my niece on 19th. I was moving from one event to another, and the health situation was worsening. On 4th Nov I felt uneasiness in chest which lasted just a few seconds as I walked to my car after attending a function. It disappeared as I sat down in the car and drove off.
On 11 Nov all my friends came home to wish us on our anniversary. I again felt uneasiness (sort of pressure) in the chest for a short time during the function which disappeared as I sat down. I still did not take medical advice.
Days passed and a constant feeling of slight pressure remained in my chest. On 19 Nov I flew to Indore and attended the marriage of niece. On 20 Nov while travelling to the airport from the marriage site I felt distinct uneasiness in the center of the chest. I felt OK as I boarded the flight.
After an hour and a half, the plane landed at Delhi, and I was feeling perfectly fine as I walked to the baggage conveyer belt. I collected my luggage and had barely got out of the airport exit gate I felt as if someone was severely squeezing the center of my chest. I just could not walk and stopped where I was. After two minutes I felt normal, walked out, sat in the car, and went to my place of stay. I was to stay in Delhi for the day and take a train to Chandigarh the next morning.
Instead of going to the hospital I preferred to sleep in my room. I got up in the morning feeling quite comfortable and travelled to the Railway station. The same squeezing feeling hit again as I walked from the car to the train. Everything got normal again as I sat down in the train.
I reached my home in Chandigarh after 5 hours of train journey and again instead of going to the hospital slept at my home. Only good thing I did was to share my feeling of uneasiness at the airport with my wife.
Next day she insisted that we go to the hospital and get the opinion of the cardiologist. We reached the hospital at 11.30 am and unfortunately the doctor was busy with a critical angioplasty procedure in the operation theatre (OT). I had to wait for another 30 minutes before the doc came out and saw me. Fortunately, before that I had got my ECG done.
The moment he saw the ECG his expressions changed and immediately carried out the echo test which confirmed his worries. He recommended an immediate angiography. All routine tests required to done before undertaking angiography were done away with in my case as the doctor did not want to wait that long.
In next 15 minutes I was on the operation table. As the angiography procedure was being done, I could make out from the tone and tenor of the doctor that my condition was really bad.
The Kiss of life….
The doctors left the OT leaving my lying on the table and couple of assistants to take care. I knew my condition was serious but how serious was what I was not aware. The doctors had taken care of not telling anything to me. After a few minutes I heard the distinct sound of heels walking into the OT. I knew it was my wife only she could defy orders and walk inside an OT with shoes on (and no one stopped her). She put her hand on my head and softly said ‘You are going to be alright; the doctors will place a couple of stents for which I have given the go ahead”. Thereafter she bent and kissed me.
It was by far the most passionate kiss I have ever received in my life. Kisses are very powerful and energy infusing. In our childhood we all have heard stories of a Princess kissing a frog and converting it into a handsome Prince. Here was a determined wife whose Kiss definitely had much more passion and power. I was certainly not going to die after receiving a kiss like that.
My wife left the OT and the team of doctors came in after 10 minutes. They took another 30 minutes to place the two stents, one each in the two left arteries. I would like to make a mention of the sole nurse and the anesthetist present in the OT during the procedure. Other than checking the instruments/ machines the nurse constantly kept reassuring me in her hushed voice that everything was going fine. Her hand was most of the time on my forehead. When the nurse got busy with the instruments the young anesthetist took her place. Between the two of them they ensured that my mind did not get overwhelmed by the situation.
Some life lessons I wish to share from my experience are as enumerated below.
Do not take health for granted. Best of the lifestyle cannot guarantee that you will not get a heart attack. But yes, a good lifestyle will definitely help the heart in fighting the adversities well and surviving. I put my heart under torture for nearly 21 days, but it could survive because of the healthy lifestyle I had always maintained.
Even when you are on medication do not take things for granted. I had to go through a second angioplasty after one year of being on medication. My blood composition was the culprit.
Being slim does not mean you are fit. Outwardly you may be the most handsome person but inside everything may not be fine.
Learn to read the adverse signals body gives; anything which is not normal. Do not live in denial, take the opinion of a doctor.
Every episode of gastric attack cannot be blamed on bad food sometimes heart may be the reason. It the condition does not improve in three days see a specialist.
Get your health check-up done once a year. If you are above 50 get a TMT done once a year.
After 45 do not test your body too much. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, do not overstretch. Accept that you cannot be as fit at 45 as you were at 35.
If at all you land on the operation table do not think too much. Take it that you are in the safest hands, and everything will be fine.
Listen to the advice given by your spouse specially regarding your health, they know it better and can make out the difference in behaviour.
Most of the heart issues have their origin in the mind. Keep the mind under check.
For spouses– If your partner shows symptoms of a heart attack do not rush to God, take him to the doctor he/ she will certainly save him. God has outsourced some of HIS jobs to the doctors.
Trust your doctor, believe in what he/ she says. Do not indulge in too much of self-diagnosis. Google is not the best bet for a medical diagnosis.
Enjoy life and always have time for family and friends “pata nahin kab koi artery kisi kaaran se block ho jaaye”( You never know when some artery gets blocked)