A Scare, But Not a Setback
This great story was submitted by Boomer, and it’s a well-written word of caution for the PAX. T-claps to Boomer for taking the time to share this important information.
“We don’t see many male cardiac patients here. Only females. The male patients never get to us soon enough. They’re all dead.” An unidentified nurse at CMC-Pineville, February 9, 2013.
I have been working out regularly for most of my adult life. At 46 years of age, I have mostly held true to an exercise habit that was honed after four years in the Navy. However, my fern-hugging days ended one day last April when I found myself complaining about the never-changing scenery at my gym to The Cat at a local Rotary Club breakfast. He immediately launched into a two-minute EH/F3 elevator speech, and told me to report to AG Middle School at 7AM that Saturday. I dutifully posted as ordered, and I’ve been grateful ever since.
I post most regularly with the running braves of Cherokee. A few weeks ago I posted there with some new and familiar brethren: Hyannis, Phoenix, Raider, Titan, Belk, Cannoli, Eye Chart, Buzzcock, Aerosmith, Sponge, War Daddy LaLanne. It’s a great group. After the beatdown, I pulled a LIFO in order to attend my son’s early morning basketball game. When I got home later that morning, I did not bother to shower, but instead began my honey-do list, starting with the transplantation of a 15-year old hydrangea bush in my backyard. My M has plans for a new backyard deck this spring, so the flowery beast had to be moved, with a special effort to preserve as big a root ball as possible.
I knew the job was a big one, because the nearly-frozen Carolina clay was doubly hard to dig up with its innumerable tree roots. After two hours of constant digging, the job was nearly done when I began to feel an unusual pain in my chest. It was as if a giant clamp had been tightened around me, and I could not draw a deep breath. I tried walking it off for a minute or two, but it lingered, and I didn’t know what to think.
I walked into the house, and M seemed to know as soon as she saw me that something wasn’t right. When I told her I had tightness in my chest, she immediately found an aspirin and gave it to me. She then dialed our doctor neighbor and friend, aka Eye Chart, for an opinion, and handed me the phone. The good doc/F3 brother listened to what I described I was feeling, and then calmly told me to go to the ER at CMC-Pineville. He told me not to mess around with this.
We packed the kids in the car, and made a brief detour two miles down Carmel Road to my in-laws, who would watch the kids while we went to the ER. My father-in-law was waiting on the curb for us as we pulled up, and he providently handed me a tiny pill of nitro-glycerin. Ten minutes later, we arrived at CMC-Pineville, and I walked into ER, my head swimming from the nitro.
Within two minutes, I was hooked up to an EKG and monitored for blood pressure. I’m happy to say that by this time, as I reclined on the bed with a flurry of nurses about me, my chest loosened up and my breathing returned to normal. Within a few more minutes, I felt completely normal. The pain I had felt never returned. Perhaps it was the nitro pill, perhaps it was the reclining rest, but I felt normal again.
I was given a blood test, in which it was determined that none of my enzymes indicated any cardiac stress. My EKGs also did not indicate any heart trouble. Nevertheless, I was kept overnight for follow-up blood tests and observation, all of which did not indicate any problems. It was during this overnight stay when one of the many nurses who came to check on me dropped her little comment about male cardiac patients. Obviously, she was alluding to the near-universal male tendency to ignore serious health warnings.
That memorable quote made me think about my lucky circumstance, and how blessed I am to have a loving and attentive M, a network of supportive family and neighbors, and close proximity to the world’s best medicine. That’s why I’m writing this.
I went home the next morning, and in the following days, I consulted with my family doctor and went through a nuclear stress test under the supervision of a cardiologist, where I was injected with a radioactive dye and scanned before and after a 20-minute treadmill exercise. The two nurses who assisted me during this treadmill test seemed increasingly interested in me as they steadily maxed out the machine’s incline and speed in order to bring my heart rate up to the required 148 beats per minute. Evidently, they had never before stress tested an F3 man.
The results revealed a perfectly functioning heart, and the cardiologist told me with near complete confidence that what happened to me was NOT a heart attack. He concluded that I had either strained a chest muscle during my shoveling job, or I had suffered a reflux event in my esophagus. He told me to resume my life as before, to include my exercise regimen. In fact, when I pressed him about exercise, he instructed me to complete no less than three 1-hour workouts each week. I’m not sure how many other patients receive that particular instruction from their cardiologist, but I can tell you I was more than happy to receive it, and more than happy to oblige. He and I will meet again in a few weeks.
My lesson learned: Do not ignore any pains you may feel in your chest, especially if it is accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or pains in your arms, neck or jaw. Do not ignore these signs, under any circumstances. I had never felt chest pains before this little episode I just described for you, and I freely admit that were it not for my M, and the calm insistence of Eye Chart, I probably would have tried to “tough it out”. Given what I know now, I would still be above ground had I not visited the ER that day.
But that, my brothers, is a crazy risk to take. It’s a risk not worth ignoring. Have it checked out. Be sure.
F3 is an awesome movement in which to reach new physical, mental and moral heights. But don’t let a superman complex overtake your common sense. Listen intently to what your body is telling you, and be prepared to address any potentiality. Pain is what we manage at every workout, but some pains require professional help to diagnose properly. I’m happy to have done so in this case.
I posted at Governator this past week, Q’d by Rock, a man with a far more dramatic health story than mine. It felt great to be out in the gloom again with Rock and the others—the crunch of the frost underfoot, the twinkle of the stars at daybreak, the locked shields, the ball of man. I took a deep breath again.