Welcome to A Garden Variety Blog!

Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
And you, you are a thousand miles away,
There are always two cups on my table.
--Tang Dynasty

I hope you, whomever you are,
will sit down "with" me for tea,
or flavored coffee or spiced cider,
and have a garden variety chat.
Now and then.
I am not so consistant about blogging
as I ought to be.
I *am* consistant about
drinking hot beverage
and the coffee/tea is always on the hob.

Come on in!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heart Attack Info

My cousin, Saundra, sent this to me today. It came from a friend of hers who is a nurse and who has recently suffered a heart attack.

"I was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the
best description I've ever read.

Women and heart attacks (Myocardial infarction)

Did you know that women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that
men have when experiencing heart attack..you know, the sudden
stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest &
dropping to the floor that we see in the movies. Here is the story of
one woman's experience with a heart attack.

'I had a completely unexpected heart attack at about 10:30 pm with NO
prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect
might've brought it on. I was sitting all snugly & warm on a cold
evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story
my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, 'A-A-h, this is the
life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet
propped up.' A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of
indigestion, when you've been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of
sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water, and that hurried
bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball going down the
esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize
you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more
thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its
progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation---the
only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bite of anything since about
5:00 p.m.

Afer that had seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little
squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE (hind-sight,
it was probably my aorta spasming), gaining speed as they continued
racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses
rhythmically when administering CPR). This fascinating process
continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws.

AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening--we all have
read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of
an MI happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat,
'Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack !' I lowered the foot
rest, dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on
the floor instead. I thought to myself," If this is a heart attack, I
shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or
anywhere else.......but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will
know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to
get up in a moment."

I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the
next room and dialed the Paramedics... I told her I thought I was
having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum
and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just
stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over
immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to
unbolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see
me when they came in.

I then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness,
as I don't remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting
me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the
call they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but I did briefly awaken
when we arrived and saw that the Cardiologist was already there in
his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out
of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably
something like 'Have you taken any medications?') but I couldn't
make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and
nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner
had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery
into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side
stents to hold open my right coronary artery.

I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have
taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the Paramedics, but
actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the
fire station and St. Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my
Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going
on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my
arrival and the procedure) and installing the stents.

Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I
want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I
learned first hand.'

1. Be aware that something very different is happening in your body
not the usual men's symptoms but inexplicable things happening
(until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many
more women than men die of their first (and last) MI because they
didn't know they were having one and commonly mistake it as
indigestion, take some Maalox or other anti-heartburn preparation and
go to bed, hoping they'll feel better in the morning when they wake
up....which doesn't happen. My female friends, your symptoms might
not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if
ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you've not felt beforeing
what it might be!

2. Note that I said 'Call the Paramedics'. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE
ESSENCE! DO NOT try to drive yourself to the ER--you're a hazard to
others on the road and so is your panicked husband who will be
speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead
of the road. Do NOT call your doctor, he doesn't know where you live
and if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime,
his assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the
Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need
to be saved! The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP.

Your Dr. will be notified later.

3. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a
normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol
elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it's
unbelievably high and/or accompanied by high blood pressure.) MIs
are usually caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the body,
which dumps all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge
things up in there. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep.
Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know, the better chance we
could survive.