Note from MindanaoBob: I have been getting a lot of requests for me to run this article again, so I am doing so today. Additionally, I am adding a current update at the end of the article.
As most of you readers will recall, back in June I had a heart attack. I came home from the hospital on July 2 and have been taking care of myself as best as I can since that time to prevent further heart problems. Several weeks ago, though, I experienced some (minor) chest pain, and I decided that I needed to have my cardiologist take a better look at my heart and see what was going on.
My cardiologist scheduled an angiogram procedure so that we could have a look at the heart. An angiogram is a test where they use a catheter that is inserted through one of your arteries, then a dye is injected into the blood so that they could use x-ray to view the flow of the blood and see if there are any blockages stopping smooth flow of blood.
On Tuesday afternoon, I had an appointment with my cardiologist and I was pleasantly surprised when he tole me that the angiogram would be performed the following morning. I was instructed to go to the hospital and check in on Tuesday afternoon, to be prepared for the test the next morning. So, immediately following the appointment, Feyma and I proceeded to the hospital and checked in.
Right on time, at about 8am Wednesday morning, a team came to my room to take me down to the “Cath Lab” for the test. They were very nice people and I was happy to have them all on my team! This procedure that they intended to perform on me was to be a “radial artery entry” which means that they insert the catheter through the artery in your wrist. As a backup, though, they prepared everything for the alternate entry point, though my groin. So, I had to be all shaved and everything in case the backup was needed.
The team took me down to the 2nd floor where the cath lab is. I was given a very mild sedative just to keep me calm, and it worked fine. When we got close to the cath lab, I got a surprise, but I considered it a pleasant surprise. They asked me if I am Catholic, and I said no, I am Christian. They said that before we enter the cath lab we will first have a group prayer for the success of the procedure and for everybody’s safety. This was at a government hospital, so I was quite surprised, but I was happy that they did it.
When we entered the lab, I was put on the table and covered in different ways. The team of doctors joined us, and they were ready to start the procedure. They gave me a tiny shot of a local anesthetic in my wrist, in the point where they would enter my artery. My cardiologist warned me that I would be feeling a warm sensation up to my elbow, and before I knew it the catheter was already in the area of my heart and inserting dye to my bloodstream. It was all very painless and actually interesting to watch the technology in action.
After a few minutes the doctor told me that he was already finished on the right side of my heart and he would be proceeding to the left side. I asked him… “Doctor, what did you fee in the right side?” He said that after the procedure was complete we would talk about it. So, they proceeded to the left side of the heart to see the pattern of blood flow. In all, the entire procedure took no more than 30 minutes, and was completely painless. The team of doctors and nurses were very professional and also very kind to me.
After the procedure was complete, the doctor asked for Feyma to be brought to the lab so she could participate in his report that he would give to me. It happened that my son, Aaron, was there, so he also came in for the report. The doctor showed us videos of the heart muscle function, the blood flow and everything.
So, how did it come out?
Well, unfortunately, the results were much worse than any of us were expecting. We have 4 arteries, and all 4 of my arteries had major blockage. The doctor said that although I have always had low cholesterol, the blockage had been caused by two reasons:
My father died at a very young age (55), just a year older than I am now. He died of a heart attack. When he had an autopsy, it was determined that he had severe blockage in one artery, and he also had a birth defect causing one of his arteries to be very small, much smaller than it should have been.
Also, I have had diabetes for about 25 years or so and such long term diabetes will lead to the condition that I have. Strike two.
The blockages that I have in my arteries are 90 to 95% in 3 of my arteries and 99% in the 4th artery.
I should be dead
Fact is, with that amount of blockage, I should be dead already. However, something saved me, something unexpected. When they were doing the test, they found out that I have a birth defect that I never knew about, and it is in my heart. That defect? I have a 5th artery! We are supposed to have 4 arteries, but I have 5. My extra artery has minimal blockage, and it is because of it that I am still alive! What a pleasant surprise that was!
The path forward for me
Given the extent of damage and disease in my heart, there is only one way forward now. An angioplasty, the balloon procedure, is no longer possible for me. I need an quadruple bypass as soon as possible. Right now the plan is that my doctor team has some other pre-op procedures that they need or want to do. It will probably take about 3 weeks to fully prepare. During that 3 weeks, I will be busy raising some additional money that will be needed to pay for this operation. In full, the cost of doing this will probably be about $25,000. So far, I have gotten some great assistance from my friends and blog readers, and I appreciate that greatly. I can’t thank you guys enough for your support.
So, in 3 weeks or so, I will be going under the knife for what is a very rough operation, based on what some of my friends who have done this before have told me. I don’t expect it to be easy. But, I am a tough guy, and have overcome other things in my life, and I fully expect to be writing here on LiP for a long time to come! I will survive this and go on to thrive. I am told that with the condition of my heart now, when this is done, I will feel like a totally different person, and I am looking forward to that!
Can I ask for your further assistance?
If you are able and willing, I could use your help. I have gone through a lot this year, with 9 surgeries on my eyes, and now a heart attack, and angiogram and coming open heart surgery. It has really drained me financially, and I would appreciate any assistance that anybody can offer me. I am not the type that likes to ask for money, but right now I am in a real life and death situation, and I have no choice but to swallow my pride and ask for help. If you are able to help, go to my GoFundMe Page and make a contribution, I can assure you that it would be appreciated from the bottom of my heart.
One thing that is great is that over the past 2 to 3 years I have really taken control of my health. I have my diabetes in great control (for those who know about numbers, my HBa1c for the past 6 months has been 5.5, which is excellent, as good as a person who does not have diabetes). I have lost weight, and had been doing great with exercise. I cannot exercise right now because my heart is very fragile and I don’t want to put too much stress on it. All of my blood tests and other tests, except my heart, have come back excellent too. So, it is not like I am going to spend money to save myself only to wither away slowly. I have put myself on a healthy lifestyle and have continued that for about 3 years now, so I know that if I get my heart fixed I can go on to a productive life for some time to come!
Anyway, that is where I stand now with my heart. I wanted to keep my readers and friends posted on where I stand. In addition to financial assistance, your prayers and thoughts are also greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your support in multiple ways!
Update on October 23, 2016
Things are moving forward with my heart surgery. For the past 2 weeks or so, I have been spending most of my time at hospitals, doctor’s offices and medical labs for tests and other medically related things.
A bit of good news is that we have been able to work with PhilHealth and it appears that we will be able to get much more coverage than we expected from the insurance going toward the heart surgery. We are still in need of raising a more money, but not as much as expected, so if you can help, visit my GoFundMe Page.
On Tuesday morning, October 25, I will be going before a medical board for an interview. It is this interview that will determine how much the insurance will cover for my surgery. I am looking forward to this day and getting it all settled up so that I can move forward with the surgery.
Once the medical board makes the final decision, I will be scheduled for surgery about 1 week later. I have to wait the week because I am taking some drugs that must be stopped before surgery and it will take about a week for those drugs to work through my system so that surgery is safe to go forward with. So, I am expecting that my surgery will probably happen around November 2 or so.
So far, all of the tests that I have been having the past couple of weeks are looking good, and I have been cleared by all of the doctors to go ahead with the surgery!
So, now you all know where things currently stand!
Thank you to all of my friends who have offered financial assistance through my GoFundMe Page. It is greatly appreciated, and will never be forgotten!