I usually stay away from personal stuff in this blog, but this is one occasion where I’m about to break that rule. The special occasion is in celebration of reaching a significant milestone in my life: my first heart attack.
I’m writing this tale mostly for those who care about me, and want to know more about my adventures in the white gown. Following the event, I was showered by phone calls and mail by family, friends, colleagues and customers wishing me well and offering their support. I was moved to tears by the collective hug and waves of love and I’m extremely appreciative and thankful for having such tremendous people in my life. A huge thanks, hugs and kisses to all of you!
The whole thing started last Friday, Nov 9th, around mid-day. I just gotten my new Windows 8 phone (Lumia 920, of course!) that morning, and was cheerier than usual, but around noon-time, started feeling weary and out-of-focus. I went home to rest and found I was running a bit of a fever too. The day before, I had received a pneumonia vaccine, which has several known side effects such as fatigue, pain and fever, so I thought nothing of it and went to sleep. When I woke up on Saturday, I was feeling fine, and I spent the morning with my kid and some house chores. Around noon time, I started feeling bad again, and had a hard time sleeping as my lungs hurt quite a bit. I was also on-call at the time, so when a customer from the UK called in for help, I spoke to him for a few minutes, and asked him to postpone the issue to Sunday, hoping I’d feel better by then. Come Sunday, I did indeed feel better and worked with the guy, as well as another fellow from Australia. However, afternoon, the chest pain came back. Around midnight, the pain was such that I couldn’t fall asleep and decided to drive up to the ER.
Our local ER is the Swedish Hospital in Issaquah, where they ran an E.K.G and some blood-work, which clearly showed that something was going on with my ticker. It’s usually quite a surprise for a 39 year old man, but knowing my family history of heart problems and my own struggle with type-2 diabetes, the doctors were happy to welcome me to the club. A few hours later, I was whisked to the cath lab to have an angioscopy, during which Dr. Howard Lewis found two partially clogged arteries with atherosclerosis. The doctor cleared those up and put in two stents, and after another night of observation, I was sent back home. Check it out…have I got a terrific 6-pack or what?!?!?
When people hear “heart attack”, they usually conjure up the image of a fat slob, couch-potatoed in front of the TV with a bag of Cheetos and a can of cheese. Those of you who know me know that even though I do love my pizza and burgers (some say that in Issaquah, restaurants call ME to make reservations…), I’m actually not one of these guys. The doctor also told me that reading my case, he expected stuff to be much worse when he went in. The reality is that heart disease is the primary cause of death for diabetics (with Stroke coming in a close second), so medically, my situation is not a big surprise, and even though I keep a relatively healthy habits (no smoking or drinking, big fan of lettuce), I’ll probably have to deal with these issues down the road again. In that light, it was good to know how my arteries were doing, and that the 3 attacks I had were all relatively very mild, so no long-term damage was caused to my heart. After a bit of rest for a few days, I should be back to normal. A funny scene was in the morning after the angioplasty, when the Cardiologist showed up in my room, to find me diving into a salad plate the size of a truck tire, which I ordered for breakfast from the hospital cafeteria. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a doctor so happy. The next day he ran into me again, in the hospital cafeteria, this time with an empty salad dish…and he almost burst into tears.
A lot of people have asked me in the past few days why the heck am I answering emails in my situation. If you were wondering the same thing, then the answer is simple. During this, I spent 35 hours in the hospital, and for 34 hours of those 35 I had absolutely NOTHING to do. Between staring at my heart monitor and playing with my new phone…I was doing MORE email than I normally would. On a similar note, even though my mailbox certainly can wait…if I let it sit for a week, I’ll just have to handle hundreds of emails when I do come back to work, which is going to be a lot harder. Answering a few emails from my phone while in bed doesn’t really interrupt my rest and recuperation…but it does make me feel better about staying on top of things and being helpful to customers and colleagues where I can. I honestly find it hard to understand people who forget all about their Email at the 1st sign of trouble…
So…time to get to know my new collection of drugs and figure out how to get ahead of the curve with atherosclerosis. I should be back to work in a few days. Until then, I also want to send a big shout-out to my dear friends Sasha, Mike and Angela, who helped us take care of our kid while I was away and keep things running at home. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful folks at my side!
Oh…and in case you’re wondering how a person looks in a the middle of a coronary…here goes:
you are crazy, get well soon buddy. take care..
Your customers can wait for your answers but your heart can't wait.
Take care of you.
Agree with Benoit!! Take care of yourself!!
Please take care and stop replying emails! :)
Update: I'm feeling fine, and starting today, back at work!
Ben, I'm a long time fan of your work & hope you have a speedy recovery. I want to leave you with a recommendation: the documentary film "Food Matters." After I had my first heart attack, a friend recommended it to me & I found it to be extremely valuable.
Take care & get well soon.
Good thing you recovered in time for your thanksgiving feast at the La Famiglia Luzzi compound. Greatful you are alright. Love you!