Almost two months ago now, I was having a wonderful day at the lake with my lifetime buddy when I suffered a major heart attack. It came out of nowhere and in many ways I know I am fortunate to still be here. I am writing about it partly for therapeutic purposes and partly to share the experience with others.
Have you ever wondered about something like this happening to you? If so, what would be your biggest concern? Many people have asked me if I knew what was happening to me. I presume they are curious if they would be able to recognize their own symptoms if such an event happened to them.
I believe heart attacks come in all forms and sizes and I am no expert but there was no mistaking my symptoms. I felt terrible. It came on quickly and I was sweating like never before. Minutes afterward I realized both of my hands were tingling as my arms had both gone numb. It also felt like a cow was sitting on my chest! These are all classic symptoms but some smaller heart attacks may not be as obvious.
I was able to reach a hospital within an hour of my first symptoms, thanks to my lifetime friend. That saved me from further damage to the heart. From the initial onset of symptoms until I had a stent placed in a blocked main artery, took about 18 hours. During those hours I was driven to meet an ambulance, taken to and treated in a hospital, transported by air ambulance to Winnipeg, and had a successful procedure performed in the operating room. Those 18 hours seemed like an eternity as I faced a challenge I had never dealt with before – my own mortality!
I have been fortunate, I guess, because I have spent very little time in a hospital throughout my life. I have looked back on an occasional life experience and thought I was lucky I wasn’t hurt or killed, but never before have I actually thought I was going to die. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Nothing was in my control.
What happens now?
I am still here – another chance has been offered me to do more…live more. And that is what I intend to do. There are physical challenges (a damaged heart and the significant reaction to the new medications) to overcome as well as psychological hurdles. (Why me? How has my life changed? Will I ever return to my old strength? What’s next?)
Stamina and the ability to do what I am use to have been severely compromised, at least in the short term. But I survived and I started a slow rehabilitation process today at the Reh-Fit Centre in Winnipeg. It will require patience and perseverance.
I’m not sure you can fully prepare for an event like this, but I can assure you that living through a near-death experience brings some clarity to what is important – the people in your life, your goals and dreams, and your ability to contribute and help others.
I am looking forward to the next chapters in my life and I plan on sharing the actual experience of the heart attack in the near future. My heart goes out (no pun intended) to everyone who may be struggling with their own challenges. I hope you can accept your new reality and the good that surrounds you.
The picture above shows some of the many cards and flowers sent to me. The good wishes from so many people in my life was heart-warming and buoyed my spirits, especially during the tough moments.
John Hindle, The Contact HitterShare