September 13th, 2001


I'm alive!

On August 24 (Friday) I went into Urgent Care after a night of angina. It would go away with nitro but kept coming back.

I was sent to Dominican by ambulance. Dr. Brandt decided to give me lasix to help get me under the required weight (just under 300 lbs.). I had lost 10 lbs. from when I was weighed in his office.

By the morning of August 29 I'd lost the desired weight, mostly water (299.5). So they did the angiogram, aka cardiac catheterization.

My old wound in my inner right thigh caused me a great deal of pain. It was unexpectedly reactivated as the catheter was inserted. Like a hot poker going down my leg. Must be a damaged nerve. If I ever have it done again it needs to be a different site, left leg maybe.

Dr. Brandt was shocked by what he saw! Most of my arteries were severely blocked, and he mentioend areas where the blockage was at an awkward area like a branch, as in a v or y. He said my arteries resembled those of a 70 year old. There wasn't much that could be opened by angioplasty. Surgery was the only option. The surgeons came in to talk to me. They seemed kind and that helped a bit, as I was in shock! I never really wanted a bypass surgery and here I was being scheduled for the next morning at 8 AM.

I find it a bit surprising after my suicide attempts but I was terrified that I would die in surgery. And of the after-effects of the surgery, if I did survive. The pain, recovery, waking with a respirator tube, hands tied to stop me from touching the tubes or tearing them out, breast bone wired together...and the fear of becoming an invalid like my Mom.

I called Randa and Sam and requested they come--with Jonathan, of course. That helped a bit, the baby cheered me up and distracted me from my fear. He's so cute, he's a lot more aware now. His eyes were very blue still, maybe they'll stay blue.

I also did a self-blessing mentally. But I was anxious and slept little all night, and had chest pains so persistent that they put me back on heparin by iv drip to thin my blood in case clots were developing.

Finally morning came and I showered, got shaved some more (more even than the angiogram prep) and got a valium to help calm me. Should have taken one the night before. I was taken on a gurney, saw the anesthesiologist--who I lobbied for no gas (hate the sickly sweet smell) and was given more iv valium to put me out. Was out pretty quick (in the hallway). (This is a good thing, going into the OR just freaks you out more.)

Came to as I seemed to be on the move. Remember seeing Dave and his Mom. Couldn't speak with tubes in mouth but tried to look meaningfully at him. AT some point I remember hearing about an echocardiogram and even seemed to feel one (sticky wet stuff under breast as ultrasound wand passed). Faded in and out, came to again in room as they were ready to take tubes out of mouth--they told me before hand that I was ready. Every time I was conscious I focused on over-breathing the machine rythym with big, deep breaths. It must have worked!

They practiced with me how I would take 3 breaths and as I breathed out the last they'd pull. It was a little sore in my throat as they pulled and I got a bit nauseated, and I needed to cough--which HURT! I almost thought I'd choke. They helped by giving me a suction tube to get rid of the mucous.

My mouth was very dry too, with my poor sore throat. I asked for water. No go. "Ice chips?" I asked hopefully. That worked. A frustrating way to get water but the coolness helped throat.

Dr. Bronstein came in and told me the surgery went fine, then lectured me about my weight. He told me that if I didn't get down to a normal weight I wouldn't make it to age 50. (I'm 42.)

They had me sitting up that day and standing, stepping to a chair to eat breakfast the next morning. By Sat. September 1 I was in a room upstairs again, out of icu, and on Monday September 3 I was going home. Lots of pain that first week, week and a half. Much better now. At first I was on morphine, then fentonyl (spelling?), both doped me up. Then I asked for a non-narcotic and was given toradol. Anti inflammatory. Also expensive. I got 6 doses and then was told I could have vicodin and percocet. I chose the familiar vicodin.

Was home until the weekend. Saturday night had sharp chest pain and trouble breathing and nearly collapsed--asked Dave to call 911. Went to Dominican and was admitted again for a few days. Had various tests and Dr. Brandt decided it was inflammation around my heart. More toradol. Was sent home Tues Sept. 11--the day of the WTC attack by plane. How sad, how shocking. More to be depressed about. Dave called me that morning, I'd had a bad night and gone back to sleep at about 6:30, he called me at 9:30 or so, and I turned on the tv at that point to see what was going on. Of course the hospital staff and patients were all riveted like everyone.