Friday, July 4, 2008

"You had a heart attack?"

Technically, yes. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle which causes the same effects as having a heart attack. Milton Hospital was ready to let me go after a couple hours with some pain meds but I thought differently.

It was the last week in June 2007. We had just got back from tour and I was borrowing our drummer's car. I was on my way to our singer's house to pick something up and I was having small chest pains on the way there. I thought nothing of it and just wrote it off as heartburn. As I got closer to his exit it was getting worse. I was breathing heavily and trying to just let it pass. I pulled off the exit and went to a grocery store near Bryan's house and got out and tried to get some fresh air. It was getting worse. I'd never felt anything like this before. I called Bryan and said he had to come get me and bring me to the hospital. The whole way there I felt like I was going to pass out and the pains were unbearable.

We got to the hospital and I went in holding my chest and told them what happened. They immediately brought out an EKG. The EKG showed an abnormal heartrate but somehow they were convinced that my abnormal heartrate was MY normal heartrate. If that makes sense.

They gave me some medicine to slow my heartrate and it did but the pains were still there. When someone has a heart attack, the heart releases cardiac enzymes into the bloodstream. They did blood tests to see if these were present in me, they were not. They didn't know what was wrong with me. After a couple hours a nurse came and said I could go home. I said no way and asked to see the doctor. I insisted that something was very wrong and he did another EKG. Now the EKG was giving a different reading which sparked them to finally think something is going on. They did one more blood test for cardiac enzymes. This time they came back positive. They told me I had a heart attack.

Well that's a scary thing to hear when you're 25 and don't drink/smoke/etc. All the other tests they did showed that I was pretty healthy which surprised me because I don't feel I'm very healthy at all but anyway. They transferred me to Beth Israel hospital in Boston. There they were going to give me 3 IVs. One of the meds they gave me caused bleeding so they had to make sure I had no internal bleeding. I'll leave out how they determined that it would be ok for that med.

While I was waiting to see a doctor my friend Alex had skated over with my phone charger because it was dead and I needed to call people. When he left to go home he got mugged for his phone and wallet. Sorry Alex. Being in that hospital all alone hooked up to wires and IVs was pretty scary especially since nobody knew EXACTLY what was happening. The doctor had said it could be myocarditis, a bloodclot formed and caused the heart attack, or an artery was clogged by something.

Later that night they moved me upstairs to a room where I'd stay. They told me first thing in the morning that they would do a cardiac catheterization. They would stick a tube in my groin with a camera that went all the way to my heart to see if anything was being blocked. If something was blocked they would fix it right then and there. It was about 3AM and I asked my friend Felicia if she would come stay with me in the hospital because noone else was around. She agreed and while I waited I tried to sleep. I woke up to a familiar face and felt so relieved. She stayed with me til the morning.

The next morning the doctor came in and said they weren't going to do the catheter because I seemed to be doing better and they just wanted to monitor me for a while. At this point I was feeling better and was concerned with long-term effects. I had a tour to leave for about 3 weeks later. They said that if it was a blood clot I'd have to take blood thinning medication and being in a band on tour I'd be at risk for getting an injury where if I were to bleed, I'd probably bleed to death. Cool. That was their main concern. So anyway, they monitored me and decided they would do the catheter the next morning for sure to check for blockage.

My dad came up from the Cape to see me through this cardiac catheterization. A nurse shaved my crotchal area where they would shove the tube in. They gave me novocaine and I could feel the tube moving around inside me but it didn't hurt obviously. Good news! No blockage. So what caused the heart attack? Nobody knows still. They pull the tube out and the nurse has to hold pressure on my groin for 20 minutes so I don't bleed out everywhere. After that they moved me to another bed and I had strained a little moving and it felt really warm by my thigh. I had opened up where they stuck the tube and they had to hold pressure there again. I had to take the worst piss ever and I couldn't in fear of putting strain on it again and bleeding again. After a little while I was able to pee and I had to lay with my legs straight for 8 hours and not move at all.

Later on the doctor came in and said they would do another test. It was an echocardiogram but they shot bubbles into my bloodstream to see if they could see something in my heart. It turns out I have a hole in my heart and people are born with it all the time and it's a common thing. This makes them believe a bloodclot formed somewhere and when it tried to travel through the hole in my heart it caused the blockage that caused the heart attack. They prescribe me some blood thinning medication and tell me I can go home but I have an appointment for an MRI the next day. When I left they told me I shouldn't go on tour until they knew 100% what was going on. This was bad news for me but I wouldn't want to be out on the road and have something bad happen. I opted not to go on the next tour. That afternoon my roommate Ryan picked me up with a burrito from Anna's in hand and we ate in my hospital room. We went home and I was so out of it from being bed-ridden to walking around again I passed out at home immediately.

I went to my MRI the next day and it was pretty easy but took a long time. After that it was just a waiting game to get the results. They came back quickly and I got a phonecall from my cardiologist saying it was myocarditis which is a viral infection and causes the same effects as a heart attack. There was no permanent damage to the heart and I could stop taking the blood thinning medicine right away and he ended the phonecall with "Good luck on tour." 2 weeks later I was on the road with Madball and back to normal. Since then I've had 2 more 'itis's but I'll save those for another time. Hopefully you stuck around through that whole story.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

4 comments:

Shelby said...

:[[

Alena said...

having worked in a hospital before i've seen this often, but this is the first time i've heard it from the patients side. interesting and obviously scary.

oh and if this whole thing was typed up and sent via blackberry like it says on the bottom im very impressed haha.

#1 penpal said...

write a new one. reading about you dying sucks. living is wayyy cooler.

Anonymous said...

fuck hospitals and doctors. couple of months ago i had a similar situation. went to the hospital with continued chest pain, breathing problems and jacked up heart rate. got there and my heart rate was over 150 so they rushed me in and surrounded me with about 6 people immediately. spent 3 days there, the first of 7 blood tests came back positive for a heart attack, had 3 different tests in the nuclear lab, did a treadmill test, had a portable EKG attached to me the whole time, they nearly killed me with morphin (turns out im REALLY allergic to it) and in the end they had no answer as to what was wrong with me. a great way to spend $20,000+. hospitals suck, especially when you dont have insurance!!!

-jim