It’s been an informative few days and I have had so many pm’s asking for an update.
Tuesday afternoon we drove to Launceston to meet the cardiologist who has replaced Dr Z ( whom I consulted back in March and reluctantly signed the CT angiogram form).
The Charles Climic is located in the former Launceston General Hospital, up a hill with minimal parking. The hairdresser in the building seems to have more allocated parking spots.
I feel sorry for the incapacitated trying to get a spot for their car.
Once inside it is all very clinically pleasant. We were not kept waiting long and we met Dr Pal, the man whom I hope is to be my hero.
He has an impeccable educational background at Oxford where he has won lots of awards for a variety of academia and research. He finished his training at Flinders University hospital.
I immediately warm to him as he speaks in a sincere, kind, warm and empathetic manner. He tells me what he needs me to know with simple words, models and sketches. He points out the concerning aspects of the scan.
The three major arteries all have disease. One is severely calcified and stenosis (blockage) one is moderate to severe and the third moderate. Crap crap crap.
They cannot remain like that as I’ll likely suffer a catastrophic event…I always thought catastrophic events were earthquakes, floods, fires but with your heart it means heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Dr Pal explains that the scans are one dimensional and he needs to look inside my arteries via the catheters used in an angiogram.
He explains that the reason I have advanced coronary artery disease and no apparent symptoms is due to the level of my fitness. A less fit person would have had angina pain, but my heart compensated by making stronger heart muscle and learning to do more with less available blood to the heart. I have a higher exercise threshold tolerance.
He said that is why sometimes you hear of fit sports people dropping dead with heart issues. It is only upon autopsy that the underlying conditions are then revealed.
That is scary. So the ‘ordinary’ person with less fitness gets warning signs, but fitter people do not necessarily. Think about that fit people…..
The next steps involve patience on my behalf as I want to get cracking on getting better. Cracking probably not a great choice of word if it ends up open heart surgery.
I am booked in for an angiogram but his first available spot (he operates one day per week in Launceston) is Fri Aug 5th….but….he has put me onto his wait list for the first cancellation. I would likely find out the day before.
It is Thursday now, the phone has not rung…..🥲
Secondly, he has tentatively booked me into his next operating list in Hobart in August at the Hobart Private.
When he does the first angiogram there are three possibilities it seems.
The first is that he can place stents and I can start recovery.
The second is a look and see to check the percent of blockages and then schedule me into his Hobart session where he would drill out the crap from the arteries and then place stents.
The third possibility is a look and see to check the percent of blockages and then refer me to Dr Ash Handikar, cardiac surgeon in Hobart, for open heart surgery (by passes). That could be a 2-4 week wait upon referral as the only cardiac theatre is at the Royal Hobart and more catastrophic cases can bump yours.
I’m nervous about needing wait my turn as I want to live.
I did ask about walking and has said I can a few times per day for 20-30 minutes but my heart rate must stay under 90 bpm.
He has put me on the usual cocktail of drugs. Doubled the statins as I’ve tolerated the lower dose from March. Despite not having high blood pressure or heart rate, a beta blocker to depress both and aspirin to thin the blood. My pharmacist son Luke explained to me why.
In case he gets a cancellation I have already completed the pre angiogram bloods and paperwork for admission into Calvary.
The journey has started and now it is a waiting game.
I am very thankful for all the support I have received. So many messages and athletes asking me about the test as they want to push their doctor to refer them to check.
That is great and my aim to increase awareness for all my fit friends. This disease is so prevalent and hides within the fit. If you have a family history of cardiac disease please start the discussions.
I do feel let down in many ways by my cardiologist of over 10 years as all he ever did was the stress test and ecg. If he looked in the file notes the family history was there, but even he judged me by my fitness.
Empower yourself with knowledge, ask the questions and maybe avoid being in the position I find myself.
Big hugs to Sue M for her regular phone calls. We have reminisced about our fun times together and maybe that’s a blog in itself. She told me she loved me, as did Pauline B. I love them back 💕
I’ve had conversations with each of the kids, and I need their loving support and encouragement.
My rock, that’s Tony and today is his 61st birthday. A quiet night at home as I cannot risk Covid. That could stuff things right up. He is having to be careful as he is the one out and about. We are planning to head over to our Berry Patch and sit outside for a meal on Saturday, rugged up!
The beta blockers do help anxiety. They make you tireder but I’m not sleeping any better. I am practising deep breathing as I lay awake thinking….
With the slow down of metabolism with the beta blockers I’ve reduced food portions as weight gain is common. So many potential side effects.
Maybe the phone will ring tomorrow. 🙏