Not the blog post I had in mind but this whole event (actual strings of events) clearly made an impact on my life and my significant others. After picking up a healthy lifestyle and all of that disaster struck early Saturday morning at 03:00 AM. Prior this weekend we just got back from a two weeks vacation in France. We usually go to the Hague for a weekend to look after our friend’s home. Take carae of their plants and make sure it seems inhabitant. This was this weekend. Summer storms just arrived as we left Maastricht. Thunder and lightning seemed to follow us all the way to the Hague. Halfway I’ve decided to take a route up north rather than continuing west. Pretty much a stressful ride as the rain and wind was so dense my view at some point was less than 50 meters. Not the best condition to drive through.

We finally made it around 20:00 PM. After unpacking everything, I was just tired. Tired from the ride. Exhausted from an already busy workweek. My little son (7) wanted me to sleep with him in his bed rather than with his sister. We’ve decided I would sleep with him on the first floor and my SO would sleep with the daughter on the second floor.

Lights out and I was gone.

27.08.19 – 03:00 AM

I woke up with intense pain on my chest. I first thought it was acid reflux, but somehow it felt different. I felt a cold sweat coming up. I came up straight and looked around. My son was lying next to me, still asleep. The pain was getting worse. I now had to push my hands on my chest to have some sort of relieve. In a split second, I thought: heart attack.

I left the bedroom and went into the bathroom. I threw some water on my face and neck, hoping the pain would go away. It didn’t. At this point, the pain was too much to wake up my SO on the second floor. I physically couldn’t go up another flight of stairs. I started calling her name. Over and over again. I was afraid to wake up our son as well. Finally, she reacted and asked what was wrong. The only word I could produce was ‘pain.’ She picked up her phone and started dialing 112 right away.

In the meantime, I stumbled downstairs to the living room and lay down on the couch. The pain was still incredibly intense. Like an elephant was sitting on my chest and I couldn’t breathe. Within 10 minutes, the paramedics arrived. He asked me a few questions and told me to go sit in the ambulance where they could hook me up on monitors. Also, the hospital was just 700 meters away, so no worries. While I was laying in the ambulance, the pain was slowly going away. He couldn’t see any abnormalities on his monitor as well, but protocol with pain on the chest is to bring the patient in. So that’s what we did. My girlfriend handed me some clothes and my phone and wished me luck. She had to stay behind taking care of our twin.

HMC Westeinde – 03:30 AM

First thing was getting blood samples and an ECG test. Since the results for the blood test would take an hour, the only thing I could do was wait. The excruciating pain was gone, and I actually felt good, maybe a little hungry.

Within an hour, the ER assistant came back, and the blood results came back negative. This was when she told me they had to take another sample of blood at 06:00 AM. With the second batch, they could give me a detailed report of what actually happened to me that night. All I could do was wait, get some sleep, and hopefully, it was just something innocent. At 07:00 AM, the assistant, told me it would take a bit longer. Something with an emergency at the lab yadda, yadda, yadda.

HMC Westeinde – 08:26 AM

At 08:26 AM, the door opened once again. ‘Sir, we’ve found some elevated levels of troponin in your blood, which indicates that you suffered a minor heart attack. Therefore we need to book you in at the CCU’.

Great…

HMC Westeinde – CCU – 10:00 AM

My cardiologist explains to me I had an NSTEMI. NSTEMI is a type of heart attack. NSTEMI stands for Non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction. Sometimes an NSTEMI is known as a non-STEMI. Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack. ST refers to the ST segment, which is part of the EKG heart tracing used to diagnose a heart attack.

It was really minor as they saw just slightly elevated levels of troponin. So say your standard of troponin should be <0,4, mine was 0,41. If this level exceeds your standard than a cardiac catheterization should take place. The cardiologist scheduled me in for Monday, and he expected to find a clogged vain which could be treated with angioplasty. An additional stent would be placed, and if all goes to plan, I would be home on Tuesday.

Monday, July 28th – 10:12 AM

Before having my cardiac catheterization, I have a meeting with two cardiologists. They both explain to me once again what the catheterization is and what to expect. The younger guy is still cautious as nothing is assured he tells me. The older guy is convinced it’s just a small clogged artery and I’ll be dismissed by the end of the day.

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure used to diagnose and treat certain cardiovascular conditions. During cardiac catheterization, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck or arm and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart.

Using this catheter, doctors can then do diagnostic tests as part of a cardiac catheterization. Some heart disease treatments, such as coronary angioplasty and coronary stenting, also are done using cardiac catheterization.

Monday, July 28th – 11:09 AM

I’m up. I’m being transported to the cardiac catheterization room, which looks similar to a standard operating room. There are three people present. A surgeon and two assistants. One of the assistants is prepping my arm as a catheter will be inserted in my artery through my arm. From there, it will find it’s a way to my heart. First, they inject contrast fluid so the veins and arteries will be visible on this huge screen. It felt like my arm was on fire. This strange warm, hot, tingling feeling rushed up in my arm. I kinda felt the catheter going up in my armpit. A bizarre sensation. On the big screen, I could see how the surgeon was moving the catheter through my veins. He worked pretty quickly as after 5 minutes he pulled the catheter out of my arm.

“I’m sorry to inform you that all three of coronary arteries are clogged where even one of them is fully closed already. Angioplasty is not an option. You’ll need a bypass operation.”

That’s it. I got a worst-case scenario. This means open-heart surgery.

Monday afternoon

My cardiologist made some phone calls to make sure I have priority surgery. I have the option to go to Leiden or Maastricht. Both hospitals have room to operate me within a week. Maastricht obviously has my preference as family and friends are close by. Arrangements are made, and I’ll be transported to Maastricht the next day.

Tuesday, July 29th – 11:58 AM

I’m heading to Maastricht today. There is this ambulance service in the Netherlands, and all they do is transport people with a medical condition from a foreign country back to the Netherlands. Occasionally they also transport people (me!) from one hospital to another one.

They came early today. I was planned for 13:30 in the afternoon but the ambulance showed up around noon. Fine with me. I was ready to back to the South.

The ride itself was uneventful. Luckily the ambulance had these tinted windows so I could enjoy the view of the freeway and typical dutch landscapes. Around 18:00 PM, we arrived in Maastricht. I was booked at the CCU, and later that night, my cardiologist came by explaining what to expect. My bypass surgery was scheduled for Thursday.