Did you know that 50% of heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol?! Interesting statistics right there!
When I checked into hospital a few months ago, most of the medics were wondering whether or not they had the right patient in their hands. I looked fit, I’ve always been petite and I laugh too much even when my life is in the balance! Hey, I can’t help myself but see humour everywhere, genetic makeup I guess?!
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) or Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) affects arteries that supply blood to the heart and other parts of the body due to plaque build-up on their walls. This condition can lead to a heart attack or death if not diagnosed early enough.
The following tests are used to determine whether or not you have the disease:
1. Electrocardiogram – monitors heart rhythm.
2. Echocardiogram – imaging sound waves from the heart.
3. Angiogram – dye injection into blood vessel to visualize blockage using a catheter camera.
4. Calcium Scan – CT scan that checks for plaque build up.
5. Chest X-ray – getting the heart image to identify abnormalities.
6. Exercise Stress Test – monitor heart rate during cardio workout.
Getting correctly diagnosed was a 2 (two) month journey for me! Yep! Two treacherous months. The first clinic I visited with mild chest and neck pain thought I was “imagining” my illness. The Doctor actually said to me, “Do you often have thoughts of sickness?” I felt like a candidate on suicide watch! The second Doctor I saw a few weeks later after being rushed into the Emergency Room (ER) said, “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. Just go home and come back if you feel pain then we will do a chest X-ray!” I felt like a complete idiot and actually thought maybe the first Doctor was right, I was “imagining” things!
Finally there was light at the end of the tunnel when I checked into the AgaKhan Hospital ER in the middle of the night. The attending Doctors and Nurse (God bless them) instantly recognized that I was having a heart attack! They actually said I was giving them a “Text Book” definition of symptoms as I spoke! This time, I became sarcastic like the first clinic I visited and I told them they were “imagining” things! I remember saying in between the pain, “You’re not serious, give me pain meds and let me go home!” Of course they did not heed to my not so humble wishes!
The ICU Doctor at Avenue Hospital on this fateful night was overall the Hero in this story. He was forced to do more than his Job Description entailed! I was in denial and distraught with the news. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the corona virus overnight curfew in the Country kept family and friends away since it was impossible to travel. I broke down completely and for a split second this Doctor didn’t know how to deal with me.
Eventually, he calmed me down and got me admitted quickly into their ICU before things got worse without a single family or friend in sight! Thank you Doctor. In a few hours my friend was the first to reach me and boy was I happy! Most patients go into ICU unconscious so you don’t get to see or hear the machines and other unconscious people. In my case, I saw and heard everything! Let’s just say it is not my cup of tea!
I salute AgaKhan and Avenue Hospitals in Parklands, Nairobi, Kenya. I am forever indebted to your staffs. If they didn’t overlook my sarcasm, I would probably not be writing this blog today!
Now, back to CAD and Cholesterol… Yes, I was the least expected candidate because of my profile, the 50% statistics?! Do you blame me for not caring much about Cardiology issues?! I mean, I’ve been on sugar, oil, lactose and gluten free diets for I don’t know how long… like that long! By default that’s basically a vegetarian, no meat or minimal meat diet for sure! Ask any nutritionist!
This doesn’t mean you live with reckless abandon. At least you’ll have the assurance that you weren’t to blame, that my friends, is a very good feeling! It helps you fight for your life courageously. Besides, if I had a rogue lifestyle I probably wouldn’t have made the remarkable turn around like I did. It would have been more costly, more damaging and a lengthy recovery. Plus I was determined to get out of the ICU ASAP! It’s too solemn! Y’all know the next destination if you don’t make it out of there, right?! Just don’t say it out loud?!
Believe it or not I laughed more than cried during this entire ordeal! Thanks to my dearest friend… Most of all I learnt a lot about life in general, things I would never have known in a million years. Happy to be alive people! Onwards and upwards!!!