The Philippine Star
Some of our readers might remember that in May of 2013 I wrote about my trip to the Philippine Heart Center for a stress test – that led to an Angiogram – that led to an on the spot double Angioplasty. It was a definite lifesaver because the Angiogram revealed I had a 95% and a 75% arterial block that could have resulted in a fatal heart attack. Deciding to have it done on the spot turned out to be a bold and wise decision because I didn’t have to undergo rebooking as well as a repeat incision.
I later found out that there have been occasions when the patient chickens out and delays the procedure and this resulted in serious complications and expense. A well known artist I know already had all the symptoms, knew very well that he had to go in but carried on denying the facts until he collapsed on stage from a massive and fatal heart attack. Right after having my double angioplasty, I remember being told by one of my doctors to behave, follow dietary and health guidelines or else I would surely be back in four years. I think I behaved fairly well because I managed to stay away from the Heart Center for five years.
Unfortunately it seems that my “warranty” has gone void after noticing shortness of breath, numbness in my extremities and ultimately waking up from my sleep at midnight having difficulty of breathing and a blood pressure of 180/100. WARNING: If you have Hypertension and are on maintenance medication buy yourself a real Sphygmomanometer and teach yourself how to check your BP instead of relying on those cheapo digital gadgets. If you do have a BP of 180/100 go directly to the hospital. Stupid me gambled and took intervention medication. Fortunately, I won that roll, but I went to the doctor the following day and got told off by the nurse!
The doctor’s visit eventually had me landing back at the Philippine Heart Center for an Angiogram and it seems that I have two new blockages that refuse to be ignored. I tried to convince my Cardiologist Dr. Marlou Mendoza to do the double angioplasty right there and then just like the first time but there was a 40 person waiting line, no room at the inn, so next weekend my “buddies” Dr. Mendoza and Director Ho who is the main man at PHC for Angiograms and Angioplasty will once again use high tech equipment to wiggle around my genetically imperfect cardiac plumbing to expand and reinforce two collapsed sections in my arteries.
While I try to take it all in stride, I have to confess that I am more affected now than I was the first time. Perhaps it is due in part to the fact that I did not fully comprehend or appreciate what I was going through the first time, and how it would affect those around me. Just because the procedures are now commonplace and not something that would lay you up for days, let us not belittle the fact that it is a serious matter with considerable costs. During the first occasion, I was preoccupied trying to be nonchalant about it that I failed to sense how it scared my wife and daughter. That was so insensitive of me and so unfair to them. We try to be tough, show strength but in the process we fail to address the fear or concern of those around us.
My current anxiety may also come from now knowing roughly how much an angiogram and angioplasty costs, I have been praying sincerely that God would take away any blockage because the expense would certainly set me back a little, including having no toys for a year or two. Of course, age has also become a factor in my mind. Unlike 2013, I am now 5 years older and 2 years past the Senior Citizen mark and along with the added age, I now have a more tired body. I’d like to believe I’ll manage fairly well, If God wills it, but with age comes a greater sense of vulnerability. But then again, as my wife puts it: the alternative is less desirable. Death in itself would be an unwelcomed inconvenience and the expense would not be any less.
So why exactly am I sharing my medical history instead of putting up my chin and a stiff upper lip. As the saying goes: “If it happened to me (twice) – it can happen to you.” I have friends, and there are strangers who are kind enough to read my columns and who also need to see their doctors for tests and check-ups. Unfortunately many people choose to ignore their symptoms, some are asymptomatic and deny markers such as age, weight, lifestyle etc. PLEASE; don’t wait for a serious emergency, a stroke or a heart attack to happen. If you wait that long there would already be mild to serious damage to your heart or brain. I honestly can’t wait to get into the operating room because until then I have been told not to drive, not to lift anything heavier than 1 kilo, and not to stress myself or get upset. Is that even possible? Some mean individuals even insist “No Sex.”
When my artist friend collapsed and went into a coma, I was one of a few people who stood vigil and during those hours we spent waiting for updates, all I could think of was that my friend could have prevented it all had he gone to see his doctor. As I watched his wife and loving daughter slump on the cold floor with their backs against the wall, I could not help but feel and think that it was so unfair to put people who love you through such pain, fear and anxiety when all he needed to do was go to a doctor and do what needed to be done. Just Do It!
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