Originally published on KevinMD
Smoking was cool. And he started smoking at the age of 15. Two packs a day — every day.
When he was 32 years old, we had our first-born son. And he decided to quit cold turkey.
But the damage was done.
Somehow, someway, it would catch up with him in devastating ways.
By the time my husband was 66 years old, he developed shortness of breath and chest pain. With exertion and without exertion.
Greg, my husband, was a health educator. A computer guru. A real “cerebral.”
And he knew “everything.”
Sometimes it’s not good to think you know everything.
Even when I — his wife, an ICU nurse of over 30 years — said to him, “You’re having a heart attack,” his response to me was not to cause trouble, and he would handle this.
He called his internal medicine doctor and was put on nitroglycerin. And the medical office said: “See you next Wednesday.”
I mentioned to him that no medical office tells you to come to their office the next week when you are actively having symptoms of a heart attack.
I was hushed and silenced by my husband.
I knew nothing. He knew everything.
As he ate his nitroglycerin like candy.
After a few days, he decided he couldn’t stand the pain any longer.
The medics picked him up in the middle of the night. His 12 lead EKG was perfect, but his troponin blood level was sky-high.
The cath lab team was called in, and my husband received his diagnosis: 95% LAD, the “widowmaker” it’s called.
The cardiac surgeon stated that a 15-minute delay from when he got to the hospital — he would have been dead.
Another heart attack would follow: circumflex 90 percent, RCA next in line and more stents were placed.
His final diagnosis came: liver and pancreatic cancer eventually with mets to his lymph nodes and lungs.
Was it the two-pack-a-day cigarette smoking or the large three glasses of wine a day that led to heart attacks and cancer? Did his cells form irregular cells and mitosis occurred? Maybe.
When you are haphazard in your lifestyle, and you think you are infallible and you will live forever; you slide down that slippery slope.
Denial and rationalization are your enemies.
Look in the mirror at yourself when you smoke those cigarettes or vape those oils into your lungs or drink that bottle of wine or case of beer per day.
It will catch up with you.
But it’s your choice.
Classic symptoms of a heart attack are:
1. Chest discomfort, pain, tightness in the chest
2. Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain, may even vomit
3. Pain that spreads to the arms usually the left arm but can be both
4. Feel dizzy or lightheaded
5. Throat or jaw pain
6. Easily exhausted
7. Snoring loud, gasping, choking-sleep apnea
8. Sweating — cold sweat for no obvious reason
9. Cough that won’t quit
10. Your legs, feet, and ankles are swollen
11. Irregular heartbeat
Denial and rationalization will not save you.
My husband died on September 11, 2017, due to liver and pancreatic cancer with mets to lymph nodes and lungs.
His ashes were spread over a mountain top.
He was a father, a husband, a brother, a son, an uncle, a grandfather.
He was 68 years old.
It’s your decision.