At 4 a.m., Tuesday, August 26, I woke with a painful, crushing sensation in my chest, a pain worse than anything I'd ever felt before.
Once, about a year earlier, I'd woken with a similar pain, but it went away after a couple of hours. This time it didn't go away.
At 10:30 a.m. I drove myself to the emergency room, where they took blood and urine, and attached me to a variety of monitoring devices. The conclusion, after several hours, was that I was not having a heart attack. However, that did not rule out other possible heart problems, so the doctor scheduled me for a stress test.
Tuesday morning, September 2, I took a nuclear stress test. Parts of my chest were shaved, making me look like I have mange, and I was again attached to various monitoring devices. Then I ran on a tread mill in an attempt to raise my heart rate.
I was unable to raise my heart rate enough. My chest pain, which had never fully gone away, returned. I started sweating heavily, and I felt dizzy. They removed me from the tread mill.
They induced stress chemically, injected me with a radioactive isotope, and then I spent twenty minutes lying still while my heart was videoed.
I returned on Thursday, September 4, was again injected with an isotope, and this time had my heart videoed while it was at rest and under no stress.
Then the two videoes were compared. The result? I have 17% blockage in the left ventricle of my heart.
Tomorrow, September 7, I turn 51. Tuesday, September 9, I am scheduled for angioplasty.
I may have a balloon inserted to open my artery and may have a stent inserted to keep it open. If all goes well, the procedure is over in about an hour. I might be released that day or I might be kept over night for observation.
If the procedure does not go well, or if there's more blockage than the tests reveal...well, I'm trying not to think too hard about that.
Most people seem to ease into their 50s. Sometime in their 40s they start falling apart, leading to radical changes in diet, daily ingestion of prescription medicines, operations, and whatnot.
Not me. My body waited until it was 50 and then kicked me in the ass.
In some ways I've led a charmed life. My blood pressure and cholesterol level, while slightly elevated when I had them checked for my 50th birthday, have led to a moderate change in my diet. I have no other medical problems of which I am aware and, until last week, did not take any prescription medications on a regular basis.
All sorts of thoughts go through my head at this time, but, given the nature of this blog, let's deal with this one: What about my writing?
The past few months have been both fertile and successful. I've been writing much more than I had been the previous several months, generating new ideas and finished manuscripts, and I've been selling at a high frequency again after a fallow period.
Writing is not a particularly strenuous physical activity, so I don't anticipate physical interference with writing, but what about the mental and emotional impact? I shot through a range of emotions when I learned my heart required medical intervention. Which of these emotions will prevail next week? And, if I am writing, will I be able to use any of those emotions in my writing?
We shall see, we shall see.