Myocardial infarction


12 Lead ECG EKG showing ST Elevation (STEMI), ...

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I’ve been going to Cardio Rehab with Rob on and off. Recovery from a heart attack is a family affair we are told though so far, I am it as far as the “family” part goes.

Unless we are counting all the forced walks we dragged Dee on over the summer.

I have seen only spouses in attendance at the various classes they offer, so I wonder why they simply don’t say “spouse” instead of “family”. In my mind, they are not interchangeable terms.

Today’s class went over the basics. Heart Attack 101. Anatomy. What can go wrong. What it feels like when it does. How to gauge pain and dose yourself with nitro. When to dial 911.

Mostly it reiterated what we’ve heard in several other classes:

You are now chronically ill with a disease that will technically never get better. Stabilize perhaps. But your days of claiming 100% health are behind you.

Heart attacks are qualifiers.

“I’m in great shape … for someone with a heart stent and known blockage.”

There will forever be the “but”. Though not necessarily the other shoe.

“Are you worried,” Rob asked me.

Not really. My husband is a keener after all – one of the reasons why he is doing so well and the absolute reason why the company doctor and the P.T. at Cardio Rehab won’t clear him for work until he finishes the program.

It wasn’t his bad habits that caused the heart attack. He doesn’t have many in terms of diet although he could have exercised more. No, it was the stress. He can’t do anything half-assed. Even if it’s something he could care less about, he treats all responsibilities and tasks under his jurisdiction more seriously than a heart attack.

I am not worried for some reason, and it’s not naively assuming we’ve dodged a bullet that can’t ricochet back at us. I am not that complacent or foolish. I just don’t see the point in dwelling on the what-if factor or the when/again possibility.

We’ve taken additional health steps. Reordered life a bit. Safe-guarded what we can. And that’s all anyone can do.


Animated sagittal MRI slice of my beating heart

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The Canadian health saga continues with Rob’s first cardiac rehab meeting yesterday. His cardiologist – the one I’ve yet to even lay eyes on and who he saw just once during his procedure (which the doctor didn’t perform but merely supervised in any case) – referred Rob to a five week program designed to assess his fitness to return to work and get him back on the healthy heart road via an exercise program and fun little classes on weight control or sexual function.

Oh, that last wasn’t an either/or, but examples.

The cardiac rehab is located in Edmonton. Per usual the parking options were limited. So hard to come by in fact that a portion of the orientation is devoted to parking issues.

Rob was probably one of the youngest participants. Certainly no one else showed up with an eight year-old in tow. There was perhaps one gentleman in his late 30’s or early 40’s, everyone else was qualified for the discount menu at Humpty’s.

As we walked in, each patient receives a personal packet of info containing his/her appointment schedules and a menu of rehab class options in addition to the ones pre-selected to match his/her “event”.

No one has heart attacks. There are “cardiac events” only. It’s a pc thing.

The nurse who conducted the session tried hard to be brief and witty and was neither, but she told a little story at the onset which neatly sums up the health experience here from my perspective.

The operator at the hospital received a call one afternoon from an elderly woman wanting to inquire about the status of a patient.

“Who is the patient?” asked the operator.

“Helen Finley,” the old woman replied.

“Well,” the operator said, “I’ll be happy to get an update for you. Let me put you on hold and I will contact the nurse on the ward for information.”

A few minutes go by and the operator returns with good news.

“The nurse tells me that Helen is doing quite well. Her blood work came back normal and her blood pressure and other vital signs are good. In fact, she’s doing so well, that her doctor is planning to release her this evening.”

“Oh,” the old woman’s voice shook, “that is good to hear.”

“I’m glad I could help, ” the operator said. “Is Helen your daughter?”

“Oh no,” the old woman said, “I’m Helen and no one tells me nothing.”

Of course no one laughed. I suspect that any of the other people in the room could tell stories that mirror our experience. But the nurse didn’t mean to highlight one of the chief problems with the system here; she was trying to make a point about asking questions. The assumption being that patients are in the dark because they don’t ask questions rather than the fact that often there is no one to ask questions of.

After the presentation, which could have been mailed to Rob and lost nothing by way of information, we hung around until the auditorium cleared. Rob’s goal for the afternoon being to arm wrestle someone into giving him return to work clearance.

“After your stress test tomorrow and a couple of monitored exercise sessions,” the nurse explained, “you will meet with the occupational therapist, who will give you her recommendations to take to your family doctor. He will give you clearance.”

“Um, that’s not what I’ve been told, ” Rob said and went on to inform her of the buck-passing he’s encountered ever since he first asked “when can I go back to work.”

He had hopes of heading off to work on Monday when Dee returns to school. I kinda had hopes in that direction myself, but it could be another week or so.

Provided nothing goes wrong at the stress test.

That thought just won’t completely go away, and it’s silly because Rob hiked six miles not two weeks after he got home from the hospital. He’s installed air conditioners, and this last weekend, we were up and down the stairs at the Shaw Conference Centre from the river to Jasper Avenue more times than my legs care to recall. If he was going to drop, he’d have done it by now.

And his job is, frankly, physically more restful than any of his hobbies are.


I sorta went on vacation this summer and didn’t let any of you know about it, didn’t I?

It’s not that I planned anything or went anywhere or even slouched from one interesting activity to a completely slothful and relaxing one.

I simply neglected you, dear readers.

And I didn’t have much to say. Or news to report.

The heart attack aftermath appears to be on an upswing after a fretfully frightening bout with medication side-effects and reactions.

Rob broke into an angry red puffy scratchy rash just after my mother’s visit ended. Much hemming and hawing by doctors followed and finally he was taken off of three meds that he didn’t need anyway, but are “protocol”.

I do not like “protocol”, Sam I Am. It drips laziness, and my own take on medical folk is that if I can Google it – it can’t be rocket science – so work a little, okay?

My mother came to visit? Did I mention she was coming? Or was that just Facebook? I confuse the two, think I’ve blogged something I only updated or updated something I actually blogged. The only people who really know are those who read here and are my friends/family/or people I am merely curious enough about to friend.

It was a good visit, but she reads over my shoulder while I am working. A little thing and I know that many daughters would love to have such trivial issues with their moms, but after a week it grates like moldy cheese.

Half-hearted stabs at stay-cationy stuff were attempted during her visit and in the last week because we needed to cancel our real vacation to Yellowstone. Couldn’t safely be Stateside with Rob’s issues and he still hasn’t been “officially” stamped with the “carry-on” seal of medical approval.

There was the Farmer’s Market in St. Albert, which is no place to take a near-eighty year old woman, an eight year-old and a guy who’s recently had a heart attack.

But we went anyway.

Shopped. And I never do that. Which really came home to me when I pruned my wardrobe for our upcoming garage sale and was startled by how little I had to start with and how much less there is now.

Rob takes up more closet space than I do.

I think I have one pair of jeans, and they are capris and two pair of shorts.

It’s so sad that Rob suggested I snag a pair of yoga pants he saw on sale the last time we were at Costco.

Oh, and I shop for my clothes at Costco and Walmart.

How the mighty have fallen.

Shopping with Mom is like shopping with Dee – it’s all about them – which made it interesting to watch my mother’s reaction to her granddaughter’s completely mercenary non-interest in Grandma’s choice of stores. Mom deals only slightly better with not being the center of attention on shopping trips than Dee does.

But in spite of the amusement, it was wearying.

Having a Grandma on the premises is handy however. A couple of days after she arrived, she manned the deck when Rob needed to visit the ER again. I have never had the convenience of family close at hand during crunchy times. Eye-opening really because being far away all the time, I’ve never cultivated a habit of counting on anyone when the going ups and toughens.

She held up but her age was apparent by the end of the day. She is not spry and fatigues more easily than she would care to have anyone comment upon.

But my, handy-dandy. Such a treat.

Losers that we are, Rob and I failed to take advantage of the opportunity to schedule a date night. I thought about it but remembering that I had to drive, I quickly discarded the notion.

I am not at all sorry that Rob is officially sanctioned to drive again. Let’s just say that the four weeks he couldn’t drive were endured by us both and let it go.

Summer mostly came and is gone. Truly. Fall’s heralds trumpet from the turning leaves to the winged ants squirming from the ground. The thermometer dips below 10c every night and the sun’s angling toward the horizon again.

We took in a few local sites. Visited Fort Edmonton, a historical village where that Brad Pitt movie about Jesse James was filmed a few years ago. Trekked out to Vegreville to see the giant Pysanka, a Easter-ish egg of frightening proportions.

Last weekend we cheered Mick on at the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival. We hadn’t planned to go everyday, but Edie’d gone camping with her new beau, Silver, and there was drama on the dragon boat team which left Mick a bit stranded in terms of support.*

And today?

School is nearly upon us. Rob – fingers crossed – goes back to work next week. And me? Back to my schedule, which I have missed a lot.

I like fall.

*It will come as no surprise to older folk that the twenties are still fraught with middle school angst. A couple on the dragon boat team is having “issues” and Mick was unfairly painted as “the other woman” for not recognizing that the man half of the couple was probably being more than just friendly in his daily texting of her. The couple is unmarried, together for five years and while she talks of future knot tying and babies, he says nothing. Tragic but hardly something a person wants to get dragged into the middle of. Naturally lines were drawn. Sides taken. Mick as the only single woman in the group was already probably “suspect” and the rest of the hens jumped with beaks sharp and claws ready. Mick for her part didn’t bite and while in a sane version of life that would count for something, it didn’t help her win anyone over. So we hung out. Even Dee managed to hang in though she wasn’t able to suppress  her obvious boredom toward the end.