One of my best friends growing up had a favorite saying he would deploy every time he wanted to be taken seriously. He would say he was, “serious as a heart attack.” I never attached much worth to the statement as I’m pretty sure I knew when he was being serious and when he wasn’t. Besides, what does a kid know about heart attacks? Still the phrase, and the earnestness that often accompanied it has stuck with me all these years.
My white privilege must deserted me as, a little over a week ago, I had a heart attack. Like many bad things that happen, it came out of the blue, kind of. What I mean by that is that my numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides etc) were all well within normal. My weight was a little high as was my blood pressure. I exercise regularly and have, over the last two years made major health modifications to my diet. I was making good but slow and steady progress towards my weight loss and BP issues. In fact I had just finished my workout at the gym and was getting ready to shower when I had my heart attack.
It came on fairly quickly and thanks to thirty years of first aid and CPR classes it didn’t take me long to realize what was happening. I am truly thankful to the stranger who called 911 when I asked for help. I do not remember everything that happened rather I have a stream of fleeting images, impressions and recollections. The pain though, was totally unforgettable.
I remember, and greatly appreciate, the gym employee who rushed into the locker room where I was laying nearly passed out on a bench and took control. He sent someone to wait for the ambulance, sent others to get more benches to get me onto a stable platform and sent another person to get towels to cover me, partly because I was naked I’m sure but I was going into shock and covering the victim is part of first aid. As I began shaking violently he put his hand on my shoulder and kept telling me the EMT’s were on the way and he would take care of me. As odd as it may seem my mind had divided itself into two parts by this point. The first part was focusing simply on the desperately difficult act of breathing. The second part was actually quite calm and rational. I could hear everything going on around me. I understood what people were saying and, I hate to say it, was even critiquing the first aid skills of those helping me. The one thing I found odd about the entire experience was the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I could not open my eyes. Still, when I can get back to the gym I want to thank him. In the depths of my pain and confusion his calm and commanding presence was an anchor for me to hang onto. I can never thank him enough.
When the EMT’s arrived I remember them asking me questions and I did my best to answer but talking was extremely difficult. I don’t remember transitioning to the ambulance but I do remember hearing the siren and deducing that I was in an ambulance. I remember hearing one of the EMT’s talking to the hospital over the radio although I don’t remember what he said. The next thing I remember was a doctor, at least I thought he was a doctor, telling me about the cathitor and how he was going to run it up my arm and into my heart. They did so and the nurse who talked to me later told me that once they removed the 100% blockage, I passed out. A stint was placed and I was sent to ICU. Three days later I went home.
The good news is I am expected to fully recover. The bad news is that it is unlikely I will be able to continue to work the three jobs I have worked for so long. I can now only work enough to support my family. My NYC welfare queen and illegal alien family will now have to seek other means of support. I am not really sorry about that but this time, I am serious as a heart attack.