At The Doctor's Office

Doctor It Up

Laughter may be the best medicine, but you still need to see the doctor sometimes. It's important to have regular checkups and take any medications you're prescribed. Find out how to get the most out of your appointments and build a productive partnership.

Are you a heart event survivor? Look for this icon to find content just for you.

Are you a heart event survivor?
"It made me value friendships with people who are as close as family to me."
"I had been driving a van for a wheelchair tennis tournament, picking up players from the airport in Los Angeles. A day before the start of picking up the players, I had to pick up a supply of bananas that were being donated by a suppler. The smog was so bad that I could not see across four lanes of traffic. I was choking and coughing as I called to verify directions with the tennis association and I could barely speak. During the two weeks of the tournament, I drove a large 15 passenger van with my left arm out the window instead of in my lap like I did in my very small two door coupe. So when I dropped off the last person, and was taking the van back to the rental location, I was not feeling very good. When I got back into my own car, my chest was sore and my left arm was severely aching. I of course thought it was from the severe smog and having my arm in a "different" position for two weeks.

But the pain was getting worse. I was two freeway exits from one of the best hospitals in Orange County, California, so I immediately drove there in my own car and pulled into the ambulance bay. They came out and brought me in. They hooked me up to a heart monitor and they said "You are having a heart attack". I went into full cardiac arrest and was dead for 97 seconds. This was at age 20 years, 2 months, 24 days, and an odd number of hours. I woke up in the CCU (cardiac care unit). Turns out that I had a blood clot from my "regular work" that involved a lot of plane travel (on average 14 flights a week), with a lot of sitting on planes. I obeyed all the rules, drink water, carbonated water, and juice (no caffeine and no alcohol), and I would get up as often as possible during the flights. But I had a deep vein thrombosis that broke off and caused the clot.

Luckily, I was at the right hospital - a hospital that had a great heart center and was on the cutting edge of technology. I was given TPA (Tissue plasminogen activator) and Streptokinase, two "clot buster" drugs that today are "first line treatment for heart attacks and strokes. I always ate very well, at 6'2", I was 176 pounds. I ate low fat, low salt, and only complex carbs. I played wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball quite often so I was very fit, so a heart attack was nowhere on my 'radar' given my health, my diet, and my age. But, given that before my heart attack at age 20, I already had partial paralysis due to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, my heart attack was just enough to cause me to "retire". I have kept my diet the best I can. It made me value the last years I had with my mother . (She died at age 56 in 1996, after a 9 year battle with Stage IV breast cancer). It made me value friendships with people who are as close as family to me."
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