Feeling lucky

| May 20, 2010

The nurses wheeled me down to the angiogram room. You guessed it. One of them ran his first half marathon Sunday. We talked about it. He said he ran a 2:04. I said pretty good, just under 9:30 pace. He proudly said yes. Another of the nurses was going to be running his first 5k in a couple of weeks, and he was excited and picking my brain. I went into old sage runners’ mold and talked to him. By the time the cardiologist walked in we were in full blown conversations about running. You have to know that Cardiologists are like rock stars. When they walk in the room, everything else stops.

The angiogram procedure is remarkable. They can see everything. The whole time the patient is conscious. The cardiologist was explaining everything as we explored my arteries.

“Mr. Clark you did not have a heart attack. Your heart and your main arteries are great. There is less than 5 percent blockage in all of your main arteries. The problem lies in two diagonal arteries that are 60-70 percent clogged. What is happening is that after an hour or so they constrict. That is where the problem comes in.”

“Do you mean that I can run?”

“Yes, just don’t run for more than an hour.”

“Do you mean that I can run, say 8 miles in an hour?”

“No, take it easy don’t run more than 5 miles.”

“Why not?”

He told me about Jim Fixx, Sudden Death. OK, 5 miles, but I can still run. If you didn’t run you might have had a heart attack 10 years ago.

I learned a lesson. Don’t hesitate to get checked.  You have unexplained chest pain. See a doctor. The DOT has an absolutely asinine mandate. They say that a driver is suspended for 60 days if he has a heart attack. There is no way that the government should do anything to keep us from seeing a doctor, especially in a life threatening situation. We need to fight this.

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