Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is NOT my friend...nor yours!!

Well, Folks...just an update on what has been going on around here...besides preparing plans for building a new home (yea, we are still finalizing the drawings, it seems to take a lot longer than I thought it should)...acquiring more land around the existing property we purchased earlier in the year...now making our total of land owned around 7 acres. Yeah!!...now maybe I can have baby goats, chickens and a garden....ummmm...maybe?? Plus, trying to get ready to "think" about selling our current home...I have some things I must do...you know how that is...right??

In the meantime I am dealing with this...Shocking to you...Probably...Shocking to me...Somewhat....Maddening to me...YES!

I've been telling the doctors including a cardiologist, 2 ER cardio specialist and my primary doctor for nearly 3 years now...something is NOT right with my heart. Upon further evaluation 2 weeks ago...a Cardio Cat scan in which I initiated and my insurance so graciously refused to pay. As a result of this simple and painless procedure...a blockage & stenosis (narrowing) in my left anterior descending artery were found...if you look that one up you'll find its the one artery you don't want to have trouble with. So based on my family history...my mother suffered a stroke at 52...a second stroke resulting in death at 57...my father had triple by-pass at 59....died peacefully in his sleep at 65 (he WAS a smoker, however). My brother had his first heart attack around the age of 50/51, underwent by pass at 52 and collapsed of a heart attack 3 months later at 52.(sadly, he was a smoker, too, not a good combination with negative family history). So with my families gene pool being somewhat contaminated I have wanted to stay proactive with my heart health...I thought I had been. Now, to be honest I've never been an exercise fanatic...but I do some treadmill activity, walking the dogs and I used to be faithful at "Curves" (I could kick myself for ending my membership) and I keep busy, plus I don't smoke, don't drink very often (occasional glass of wine or even a beer with a meal) and I'm not clinically overweight...but of course as women we always feel we could lose 10 pounds. I'm not in perfect physical condition like Jane Fonda or the likes...but I can hold my own...or I have been able to do so...until the last year or so. I thought I was just out of shape...or it was turning 50....it is not! I've had 2 nucleaur treadmill tests in the past 3 years...I was told both were negative for any complications (only to find out yesterday, that the EKG portion was positive, but b/c the nuclear part was ok; they assumed b/c I was a woman and women have false positives more often than men...that my EKG was a "false positive"...hmmmm I suspect they were wrong!) I have been somewhat vigilant in blood test along with checking cholesterol, LDL and HDL...over the past five years...all seemed to be fine. Menopause hits and we know that can raise cholesterol...so at my last appointment in late July I was told all was fine...but YES I was in the throws of menopause. After talking with my G.P. we decided based on my age 51, my family history and the fact I have had atypical chest pains going on for about 3 years (I was told it was stress, menopause, anxiety and all types of other things during this time...told NOT to worry!)that we would opt to schedule the Cardiac CAT scan...mainly I believe b/c he thought I wouldn't rest until I had some substantial proof the things I have been experiencing were nothing to worry about other than anxiousness! I had the scan 2 weeks ago...and was told by my G.P. that the results came back unremarkable (I beg your pardon...I thought I WAS remarkable) in all arteries except the big L.A.D....so further testing should be scheduled upon seeing a NEW cardiologist, thankfully his nurse was able to get me into a new cardiologist in less than 2 weeks...remarkable...hmmmm...I tend to think God played a big part in this. I saw the new cardio yesterday...he decided he didn't want to wait to see what developed (thank you Lord!)...he didn't want to do another battery of test(again Thank you Lord)...b/c I've basically done them all...So...he has scheduled me for a cardiac angiogram on Tuesday the 23rd to find out A) how much narrowing there is (at this time they say they think it is somewhere between 40 and 70%) and B) find out what and how much plaque is located above this narrowing...I could see the tiny white dot on the films...but hey...who knows with those things...it's a little deceiving to the untrained eye...and I think even so for the trained eye! All the other arteries looked great...they were indeed unremarkable and in the cardiac world...that's suppose to be a good thing! He did hurt my feelings however, by labeling me with "CAD"...I don't like being labeled!! :)Anyway...he has put me on statins mainly b/c he felt my LDL was not at a good number...I had been told by my G.P. that they were within normal range but yesterday the cardiologist said they were not...they were above 100 at about 126...he said as a cardiologists he likes to see women my age at under 100 and b/c of my family history...he wants mine to be around 70 to 80 and he feels that this can only be accomplished "quickly" by statins...of course he feels diet and exercise will play a positive role once he figures out the game plan. He also increased my one baby aspirin to two a day...and has instructed me to relax...not exercise...take it easy...OH! and he so graciously wrote me a prescription for nitroglycerin tablets...as he said..."just in case"....ok...I almost reached over and slugged him...but hey...I figured b/c he would be cutting a small incision in my groin and threading a catheter through my veins and heart...I better control my Irish temper and German hard headiness and be on my best behavior. So, of course I am a tad anxious...but I am also a believer in God's healing touch. I have asked God to be with me every step of the way (I know he always is)...he will guide me...he will comfort me...he will give me peace and strength...he will heal my heart!! I also know & pray he will guide the hands of my cardiologist/surgeon on Tuesday and he will give this man & all that are taking care of me great wisdom, discernment and perfect skills to help in the complete healing process of my heart. I'm not happy about this; but for me that's probably a good thing and a great motivator!! I know that I "heard" the little voice inside me loud and clear...I know who whispered those words to me...AND now I have finally been heard! I also have always heard that if you profess it you possess it...so I profess "I am healed"...I profess..."I will be just fine"...and I profess "God is Good".

I ask of each of you two things....First I do ask for continued prayers for my family and myself during this time, along with wisdom, discernment and skillful hands for my doctors and nurses in the actual procedure and in handling my case...skillfully, wisely and proactively. Secondly...I ask all of you to PLEASE educate yourself about heart disease in women...it is the #1 KILLER of both MEN & WOMEN in the U.S. today. I think b/c C.A.D. can sneak up on you without much fanfare...the same goes for high blood pressure, you are left with a false feeling of security regarding your heart health. So, ladies and gents...even if you think you are too young to have this problem...don't let that stop you from having your cholesterol checked along with your LDL, HDL, and triglycerides...listen to your body...if something feels "off"...insists on action from your physician...don't give up...if you don't get the answers from the first doctor move on to another! I really believe and know that we all have to be our own advocates when it comes to our health. Sadly, doctors, nurses and hospitals are overworked these days...and things just get set aside. Don't let that be your health...TAKE ACTION...don't think you are too young...believe me you WILL hear that, too...ahhh! don't worry about this...you're a woman...you're too young...you're too thin...you're too active....folks...I heard all of these things...but the "push" or the "voice" that kept resonating in my head...was "family history". I plan on changing that history...I plan on taking aggressive action against this disease....and I plan on living a very long healthy life!

Just in case you are wondering what Coronary Artery Disease is... How Does Coronary Artery Disease Develop?
Your coronary arteries are hollow tubes. Inside, they are smooth and elastic, allowing blood to flow freely.
Before your teen years, fat can start to deposit in the blood vessel walls. As you get older, the fat builds up. This causes injury to your blood vessel walls. In an attempt to heal itself, the cells release chemicals that make the walls sticky.

Then, other substances such as inflammatory cells, proteins and calcium that travel in your bloodstream start sticking to the vessel walls. The fat and other substances combine to form a material called plaque. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery (atherosclerosis).

Many of the plaque deposits are hard on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside. The hard surface can crack or tear, exposing the soft, fatty inside. When this happens, platelets (disc-shaped particles in the blood that aid clotting) come to the area, and blood clots form around the plaque. This causes the artery to narrow even more.

Over time, the inside of the arteries develop plaques of different sizes. Many of the plaque deposits are hard on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside. The hard surface can crack or tear, exposing the soft, fatty inside. When this happens, platelets (disc-shaped particles in the blood that aid clotting) come to the area, and blood clots form around the plaque. This causes the artery to narrow even more. Sometimes, the blood clot breaks apart by itself, and blood supply is restored.

Over time a narrowed coronary artery may develop new blood vessels that go around the blockage to get blood to the heart. However, during times of increased exertion or stress, the new arteries may not be able to supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.


Susan said...

Dear Teresa,
Of course you will be in my prayers and thank you for this important warning!

justabeachkat said...

Well sweet friend, this is such a surprise. You're so young, a non-smoker, social drinker and in pretty darn good shape! Wow...family history must be the culprit. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. But, I'm so thankful you were on top of this. We must be our own best advocate. Thank goodness you are. I'll be praying for you and your family. I KNOW all will be just fine. God holds you in His hand. Here's a few verses that really helped me and I hope they help you.

Psalm 56:3
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Psalm 30:2
O Lord My God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 48:16
The Lord says, “At the time it happens, I am there.”

Jeremiah 17:14
Heal Me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

Jeremiah 30:17A
But I will restore you to health, and heal your wounds, declares the Lord.

Mark 11:24-25
Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

Teresa, I'm so very glad you kept pushing for the tests, even though the "professionals" discounted your self-awareness as not being of any medical value. The attitudes of some in the medical field infuriate me. How dare they NOT believe a person when it comes to that person's body. Menopause has become the "label" for far too much of what can ail a women's body after a certain age. Menopause and depression (can't forget THAT one, now can I?). Too many doctors just don't want to listen.
BUT - the great news is that you pressed forward and got the information necessary to make progress with your health. I know from my dad's angiograms that, depending on what they find, they can do amazing things very quickly to rid you of those blockages. Even the tougher blockages are getting easier to deal with. I've marked my calendar for the 23rd. I hope you're able to give us an update fairly quickly after that, but I'm confident that this will be resolved. Just remember this experience. YOU know your body better than anyone! I bet it'll be MUCH harder for some old doctor to call any future issues you may have "just menopause" or "just aging". :)
Good luck and I'll be thinking of you and praying for you.


Sandi McBride said...

Thank God you're a tea bag...strong when put in hot water! Thank God your GP already knew this about you. Now as for that angiogram! I've had a few...well three to be exact...and they give you this wonderful stuff before they take you in...but don't ask for a six pack to go, they'll just say no. You won't know what they're doing, or if you do you won't care...I don't even get the heebie jeebies if they tell me I need one anymore...course having the most handsome Cardio man in the world is pretty lucky, too...plus he really knows his job...hope yours is both, but if not, the knowing his job part is the most important, of course! I've been thinking about you and praying for you, it'll be fine!

Sandi McBride said...

tell us the date of your angio so we can send up concentrated prayer, okay?
hugs again!!!

joan said...

Teresa you will be in my prayers. This sounds like my family history. My Mom and brother both died of sudden heart attacks(they both ignored the symptoms and looking back I know now they had them). My Dad has had by pass and diabetes. So I was totally checked out two years ago when my brother died and am going for a total check up next week. I agree with you, we know when something is not right. I get confused sometimes though thinking it is my imagination and not real pain. I'll keep you in my prayers and with your faith in the Lord I know you will be fine.

Tina said...

Hey sweet beautiful friend of mine~ your in my prayers! Starting right now..

Your doctors will take GOOD CARE OF YOU! Trust them!

Hugs to you!!

Tonja said...

Who knows us better than we know ourselves? Only God. And you knew something was no right...more of us need to heed that inner intuition that we have. You did...and it paid off! You know you are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I just found your site. I wanted to tell you that at 35 I developed DVT. It was very frightening. Still is 9 yrs later. I was on blood thinners for 2 1/2 yrs. It affected my bosy so much so that my body for got how to clot. I have learned that I must keep hydrated and that there are certain vitamins and minerals that are very important.
While I know this isn't the same as you it is in the same venue.
I do no and have never smoked, I do not drink alcohol, I was a ballet dancer and I exercised (ok not to exhaustion but enough). Yet this came upon me.
There are times that everyone must meet certain situations head on and with courage. there are times when having faith is such a big part of your life.
I pray for good things to come.

Lavender Chick said...

Wow! I had no idea you were going through all of this. First of all, I have a bone to pick with your GP (sorry if he's a good friend of yours). You just can't play around with genetics; with your family history, you no doubt are pre-disposed. However, with all of today's medical advancements, being predisposed does not mean you should be subject to your genes. So - that's why I have a bone to pick with your GP. I'm not a doctor, but even I know your LDL goal should be 70 or below because of your history. Shame on him/her for not being more agressive with your treatment, and for not "hearing" what you were saying. I'm glad you're taking a statin... Hopefully it is one of the newer generation ones which has a better effect at a low dose on plaque.

Good for you for being in charge of your own health and demanding more tests! You knew something wasn't right. Too many doctors point the finger at menopausal symptoms.... I'm glad you are seeing this cardiologist and that YOU are in charge! Because of this, you will no doubt prevail and win the war against heart disease! You're not a victim of this, you're a fighter in this!

I'm praying for you and know that you're in good hands, medically and spiritually.

Please tell me the address of your GP so I can go throw rocks at his windows! You can go with me if you want....

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

Oh boy! You do have a lot on your plate. Good luck on the 23rd. There will be a lot of blogging buddies thinking about you.

Get the Dr. Oz book. He has some supplements in there for healthy heart stuff.
keep us posted.

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It has encouraged me to keep pressing my doctor about my feelings that 'something isn't right'.

I will have you, your family and your medical team in my thoughts and prayers tomorrow.

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