I just started my 9th month of pregnancy. This was my husband, Alex, and my first child. It would make sense that we were anxious for our future. Alex started to complain that he had chest pain that would radiate to his arm. His co-workers and friends kept telling him it was just probably nerves because of the baby. I thought that was a possibility. We were trying to finish all loose ends before the baby was born. This included finishing our basement, getting the nursery ready, and making sure we had enough freezer meals ready to go. We are in our mid to late 20’s, so how could it be a serious medical condition? It had to just be nerves. However, deep down, I had a feeling it was something more.
We were at my doctor’s appointment for the weekly check-up before the baby is born. I told him he should just schedule an appointment now with his doctor since we were already there. I kept saying it would just make me feel better to know it was nothing serious. He finally agreed. He walked up to the front desk and scheduled it. When the person asked for the reason for the visit and he replied with chest pain, urgency started. They told him that they would get him in right now. He was getting an EKG scan while I was getting my ultrasound done. Everything seemed fine, but they wanted to do an exercise stress test to make sure. During the stress test they did find something abnormal, however, the test doesn’t know why it is abnormal.
After the stress test, Alex met with the cardiologist. He gave him 3 options. 1, do nothing and just assume it’s anxiety or nothing. 2, have a CT scan completed which would allow the doctor to see if there is any blocks in the arteries. It wouldn’t show how bad it is, just if there are any. 3, have an angiogram which is where they go into the artery and see if there is a block and fix it if there is. Option 1 was a no right away. We would rather be safe than sorry. Option 3 was more invasive and we really didn’t think it would come to that. So we decided to go with option 2.
Remember, I am pregnant during all of this. Alex decided to make the appointment for the CT scan for Mid-June. This was pass my due date and would also give us time to adjust to having a baby. At the end of May, we had our baby son, Sammy. We were now adjusting to parenthood, while also trying to find out if there is something wrong with Alex.
The CT scan did discover a block. Unfortunately that meant an angiogram was needed. That would determine the extent of the block and if a stent would be needed. A stent is a wire mesh tube that would be inserted into the artery which would open the artery up and would allow blood to pass through more easily. We were hoping this would not be needed and that the block would be small enough to easily scrap the plaque away or that medicine would be enough.
Alex, Sammy, and I headed to the hospital 6 am on a Friday. Alex got prepped and Sammy and I were in the waiting room. We kept hearing from the doctors and nurses that it probably wouldn’t be that bad. He was so young that they just assumed the block would be small. The nurse would call me during the operation if a stent would be needed. Alex’s parent’s came while he was in the operating room. The company was much needed!
An hour in and I get the call. I hear the monitor in the background with Alex’s heartbeat echoing the room. My heart drops at first, but the nurse quickly assures me that everything is going great. However, the stent is needed. After I hang up, I do a quick prayer in my head. I thanked God for helping me convince Alex to go to the doctor.
When we finally speak to the doctor, he said that the artery was at least 90% blocked. He is shocked by how bad it is since Alex is so young. His mom’s side has a history of heart disease. His one uncle, in his 60’s, has 4 stents already. However, none has had stents as young as Alex. The problem appears to be that his good cholesterol, HDL, is too low, which can be caused by genetics.
The doctor told us that we are lucky that Alex didn’t have a heart attack. If he would have had one it would have been extremely serious and it would have been a 911 call. They probably would have had to do open heart surgery right away to save him.
When you are told that your life was right on the edge of falling apart you start to view things a little differently. Alex wouldn’t be able to lift Sammy for a week to give himself time to heal. He has to take 6 medicationsa day to keep things in check. We have to start a new diet and exercise more. All of this seems so minimal when you know what could have been.
Here I am as a new mother and only have been married 2 years to the love of my life, and all of it could have easily been dramatically different. I thank God every day that my husband is still with us and that he will be apart of our son’s life. We initially only told close friends and family. Whenever they see us, they always ask how I am handling all of it. I never know how to respond. Great, because my husband is still beside me. Stressed, because I now have a lot of responsibilities including taking care of my newborn and my husband. Mostly though, I am just thankful and am taking it one day at a time.
I knew it was time to have a life style change. The doctors and nutritionist all recommend the Mediterranean Diet. This is a life style change. Not just a diet. And with everything right now, we are taking it one day at a time.