Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Heart Attack

It's Christmas day 2011 and I'm six miles away from home. I'm riding my Catrike 700 packed with a change of clothes to meet Carrie and the kids at a Christmas day party. It's a short 12 mile ride from my home in Agoura Hills to Calabasas. At the six mile chest feels like an elephant just parked it's ass on my chest. I'm having a stinking heart attack and I'm not quite ready to accept it.

The day started off simple enough. It's Christmas Day and we're invited to a party. It was a beautiful day and I didn't want to let it go by without taking a ride on my trike. What better to do then ride to the party and meet up with everyone.

I loaded up the trike and pushed off at 11 am. Right about at six miles I wasn't feeling chest was hurting and feeling heavy. I pulled into an empty parking lot of an industrial building hoping to get some relieve by taking a rest. After 10 minutes I put aside my ego and called Carrie to come and bail me out. The idea of something more sinister then just "not feeling good" crept into my thoughts. At 12:45 Carrie and the kids show up and I painfully tie the trike down to the top of the car.

Once everything was loaded into the car I looked at Carrie and said "take me home I don't feel good". It was when we were driving home that the pain in my chest became overwhelming and my left arm was starting to feel an odd pain. I put aside denial and gave into reality and told Carrie to go straight to the hospital. The hospital was some miles away and I wasn't doing well so Carrie got off at the next freeway off ramp and took  me to our local Fire Station 89.

Once in Station 89 the EMT's took over and I knew that I was in good hands and actually started to relax. They hooked me up to an EKG and told me with no uncertainty that I was having a "heart incident". In the mean time one of the firemen took the kids on a tour of the station to keep there minds at ease. An IV and a few drugs later I was taking a code 3 ambulance ride over to the hospital. On the ride over my EMT no longer minced words and while spraying nitroglycerin under my tongue said "you're having a heart attack and this is what to expect when we get to the hospital..."

I never lost consciousness so when I arrived at the Los Robles Hospital I laid there in the ER and watched the well choreographed circus unfold around me. I eventually ended up in the "cath lab" and watched my doctor insert two stents into my LAD vein that supplies blood to the muscle of my heart. In less then 30 minutes I was on my to recovery and after a three night stay I made it back home.

From the time I entered the fire station to the time I existed the "cath lab" I never felt that my time was up. The folks involved in my care exercised such a high level of competence that I felt at ease the entire time. The firemen and paramedics at Station 89 are proof of why I happily pay my taxes each year.

In the end it was determined that the LAD vein supplying blood to the heart muscle was blocked. It was alone in it's attempt to bring me down. While scoping through the rest of the arteries around my heart my doctor said everything else was open and clean and there was no damage to the heart muscle. In addition to not ignoring the problem and getting help reasonably fast my fitness level was a major contributor in  preserving the integrity of the only heart I own.

Then why...genetics? Why only one vein? I'm 58, 6'1", 190 lbs, low cholesterol, low blood pressure, exercise by cycling regularly and I get regular physicals. I can only file this heart attack under "shit happens". And when it does happen be prepared for it by keeping your body healthy and strong. As an avid trike rider my heart was strong and was able to compensate for a temporary loss of blood to part of my heart muscle.

On the positive side I now know what is going on inside my heart and it looks good for the long run.

If you ask me what is the one thing that stands out from this whole ordeal it is the doctors and nurses telling me that my whole family filled up the ER waiting room. I love them all!!!


  1. Hi Mark, I´m really glad it was only a bad moment... hope you get better soon and back to the pedaling track!!

    Sam, "milarmon" from BROL

  2. Very much not the title I was expecting to read when I popped over to your blog. I'm glad you're feeling well enough already to be blogging about it (that has to be a good sign). Happy new year to you and yours.

  3. OH MAN! So glad to hear that turned out ok! Glad to hear it was a SH event and nothing else was wrong... So, did they give you any advice or schedule for returning to exercise / cycling?

  4. OMG Mark, that is so wonderful that you are doing so well. Continue your positive attitude, blessings for a great year surrounded by your family and.friends.

  5. Damn, Mark! Sorry to hear about the old ticker. You're still around, however, and we are mighty glad. My dad had the angioplasty and it worked great. He actually never had another problem with his heart.

    Keep your eyes on those trikes and post up when you can.

    Be well!


  6. Thanks Scott, Good to be around.