Once Upon a Time I Had a Heart Attack: Some Proof That Fitness and Health Aren’t Always The Same

On January 14th, 2019, I joined the not so exclusive heart attack club.

It’s interesting that the majority of heart attacks occur on a Monday morning around 8am. Not surprisingly then, I started feeling the first pain at, you guessed it, 8am on a Monday while in the car.

Luckily, my blockage was in a very small artery located off the lower right side of my heart.

And no worries. It’s been well over two years now and it didn’t take very long to get back to normal. The damage was very minimal. Think of it as a car going in for repairs and coming out fixed and ready to go.            

From the very beginning I always said that being fit increases a person’s chance of living a long and healthy life, but it doesn’t guarantee it. Genetics can be a bitch and it can be a powerful force.

So when I run, lift, sweat and push myself, it’s because I enjoy it, not because I’m looking for guarantees.                 

That brings us to here and now; There are areas I know I still need to improve on.

For one, stress is a very real risk factor so I’m making an effort to learn how to deal with it better. I’ve also cleaned up my diet. It was never really bad but I may have enjoyed a few too many pepperoni pizzas and I’ve always had a real weakness for sweets…and wine. I won’t deny myself any of this going forward but I’ll limit them a little more than I used to.              

Like I did in my original post, I feel a need to again acknowledge the incredible treatment I received while in the hospital.

From the time my wife drove me to the hospital and I walked, barely, into the ER, to the day I checked out to go home, to now, over 2 years later, I have no complaints as far as the care I received.

Doctors and nurses are a unique and special group and they’re selfless and tireless in their commitment to caring for those in need.

To say I was about to collapse by the time I got to the ER isn’t an exaggeration but the guy who checked me in was calm and cool, while also being fast and efficient.                 

Within 30 seconds of checking in, there was a nurse helping me into a wheelchair. As we proceeded through the double doors and down the hall, she calmly explained where we were going and what they were going to do next.

As I was being moved to another room, there was someone committed specifically to making sure my wife got to where I was and that she knew exactly what was happening. Something I never expected but very much appreciate.            

Once in the room there were probably 5 or 6 people moving quickly in and out but every one of them was calm, working in perfect unison. At no point did I feel panicked because they exuded calm and confidence. They moved fast but they knew exactly what they were doing. I remember thinking, I’m exactly where I need to be.              

At some point a doctor came in, looked at the electrocardiogram and calmly explained to me that I was having a heart attack, not really bad heartburn, and in the next few minutes they were going to move me to the cath lab.

Once there, they kept the mood light and even joked as they prepped me for the procedure ahead. I was partially knocked out when they inserted a catheter through my wrist, up my arm and to the exact location of my blockage.

They were then able to insert a stent which allowed blood to again flow unobstructed. I’ve always found their ability to pull this maneuver off extraordinary and fascinating. I just would’ve preferred that the procedure never be done on me.          

When I woke up in the ICU, the nurses were right there to make sure I had everything I needed. They also made sure my wife had what she needed, giving her extra pillows, blankets and asking her if she needed anything else.

That continued every hour I was there, day and night. One nurse on night shift even said if I couldn’t sleep and just wanted to talk, let him know and he would come hang out because that particular night wasn’t very busy. A true caregiver.             

Being in a hospital bed connected to numerous wires and tubes isn’t fun, as many of you are well aware. It tests your patience when you probably need it the most. It’s hard to move, turn over, sit up, or sleep and there are constant beeping noises all around you.

On that note, I should especially thank the two nurses I yelled at on the last day when they wouldn’t let me eat because I needed blood work.

If I remember correctly, I told them if I didn’t eat in the next 30 minutes, I would disconnect myself, walk down the hallway and leave. I later apologized for the unnecessary and embarrassing outburst. Refer to *reducing stress* above.

Through it all though, I couldn’t have asked for a more professional, qualified, and kind team to watch over me while I recovered. For that, both myself and my wife will be forever grateful. 

Stay healthy guys,


3 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time I Had a Heart Attack: Some Proof That Fitness and Health Aren’t Always The Same

  1. My gosh, how scary. I’m so glad to read that it wasn’t serious! And yes, we all could use more stress relief. Good for you for taking a proactive approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Surprisingly I wasn’t as scared as I would’ve thought. But even with a minor heart attack the hospital and recovery for a few days is wearing. Take care of yourself 🙂


  2. Wow Rick
    That’s quite the story.
    I can only imagine how that might have felt but in getting a good idea through your story.
    Personally, I have limited personal experience of hospitals, although I have spent a little time with both parents in hospital through the years, and more recently my partner.
    Not to mention, I also have relatives who work in hospitals, so i get their perspective all the time.

    I’m not sure if I mentioned but I also work as an architect leading teams that design hospitals, so I get to spend a lot of time with the profession from that unique angle – helping create not only a space that’s great for patients but almost more importantly, making it a great facility for the people who spend a great deal of their waking hours there, the staff.
    It’s been interesting recently having them cancel meetings as we design their new ICU because of a sudden spike in Covid patient numbers.

    Stress – that’s another story.
    I have written extensively on the post about my struggles with stress and how I have managed to get my stress levels down through meditation, and a smidge of yoga.
    It’s not for everyone but it’s the one thing that finally worked for me.

    I’m glad you’ve worked out what works for you.
    It’s more than a lot of guys ever manage.

    Enjoy your weekend



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