CacheCrazy.Com: Have A Heart: The Story of Why I Cache (Part II)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Have A Heart: The Story of Why I Cache (Part II)

Last week, I presented part one of a three-part series on one of my major motivators for geocaching.  Part One glimpse into my early years, leading up to a life-changing event, which occurred in 2003.  Today, I offer a candid look into one of the scariest days of my life.

"Heartburn.  Really bad heartburn."  I muttered these words to myself as I stood in my bathroom, facing myself in the mirror.  Certain foods and beverages are a case of instant heartburn for me.  Pepperoni, sausage, beer, just to name a few.  It came as no surprise to me, as I stood there fumbling for the bottle of antacid tablets in the middle of the night, that I had ended up in this predicament.  Beer and pepperoni pizza were on the menu the night before.  Way to go, Dave!  I popped a few tablets and went back to bed, certain I'd wake up feeling like new man.

I fell asleep, only to wake a few hours later.  My heartburn seemed to be worse.  Oddly, though, at the same time I had an aching pain in my arms.  I thought, perhaps, in my incessant tossing and turning, I'd laid on my arms and they became sore.  I did a few stretches, and at the same time sipped on a glass of cold water.  My forehead was abnormally warm.  Something wasn't right here.  There's no way this is just heartburn.  In that instant I thought of my father and brothers, and their history of heart problems.  "Surely I'm too young for all that, right?  I'm only 26, and stuff like that is years off."  All these rationalizations seemed to be nonsense, as the pains just didn't want to go away.  In the interests of being safe, rather than sorry, I drive myself to the hospital.

Move over, Larry Bird!


I arrived at the emergency room of the Chester County Hospital around 5:30 am that Sunday morning.  Fortunately, I was the only person needing to be seen, and after being assessed by the triage nurse, I was whisked right back to a bed.  The nurses ran the vitals, then a doctor promptly saw me.  I explained what was going on.  Of course, by the time I see the doctor, the pain has gone away and I feel fine.  The verdict?  A bad case of indigestion.  "Here, take this, and if the pain returns, come on back" says the doctor.  Sounds good to me!  I get dressed, gather my belongings, and proceed to see the nurse, as she is about to discharge me.  No less than five minutes later, the doctor returns to the nurses station and says "where do you think you're going?" Sitting there a bit confused, I remind him he just gave the OK to discharge me.  "You may want to go back in there. Your blood work came back, and you, my friend, had a heart attack."  I was in amazement.  Here I am, 26 years old, and I'm officially a statistic.

Words can't describe the outstanding job the Chester County Hospital, it's nurses and doctors did in the process of my treatment and recovery.  I had a cardiac catheterization the next day, received a stent, and got a good days sleep, thanks to some pretty powerful drugs.  I spent five days in the hospital, six weeks in cardiac rehab, and was on the shelf for a good three months.


Would you believe there are six future heart attacks in this picture?



My cardiologist attributed my heart attack to several factors.  A poor diet was a major culprit, as well as stress and genetic disposition.  At the time I was working in the construction industry, and as such, received a good bit of cardiovascular exercise.  Walking the plant on a daily basis, as well as repetitive lifting of moderate weight, were helping me stay fit.  However, things change in time.  Factors unrelated to my health issues led me to return to Northeast PA and a change of employment.  I found myself in the wonderful world of customer service.  I traded in my construction boots for a pair of loafers.  My earplugs were replaced by a headset, attached to a constantly ringing phone.  No exercise in this field, my friend.

Over the next few years, I tried keeping active.  I belonged to gyms here and there, but always found myself going more and more infrequently as time went on.  I found gyms to be a waste of money.  I didn't have the space in my small house for exercise equipment.

Surely there had to be some activity out there which I could do at my own pace, which was inexpensive, and would hold my interest to keep me in it for the long run.

Anyone see where I'm going with this?


6 comments:

Heather Cook (Lady-Magpie) said...

Oh yes Smithie - understanding and recognising all you are saying in my world and life as well, 10 stone overweight and had the same height lying down as standing up, if you know what I mean. The old ticker was all over the place and I didn't want to walk anywhere. I await with interest the end of your story.

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

wow - 26 years old and a heart attack? That is frightening. Your family photo of 6 future heart attacks is mind blowing and really delivers a message.

Big_Dog1970 said...

Dave I didn't know this about you.
Wow, This makes me realize how lucky I have been so far. I have been over weight most of my life. Maybe I should start trying to find more caches that require a little bit of a walk. I know I could have tried harder that day we went to the Courtdale Murder Mystery cache. I might have been able to reach the final stage if I just paced myself, but I gave up.

BLOODHOUNDED said...

WOW, Dave this is crazy! I almost fell over with that six heart attack picture. Mostly skinny dudes and just average looking folks. Just goes to show brother, you have to take care of yourself and that goes beyond fitness and diet. If you know you have other factors you have to be checked out regularly. I do a self test. I hit the treadmill and max out for as long as possible. If I live, I'm good and I'm stronger! If not, it would have happened sooner or later.

Don't worry, if you keel over while we are out caching, I'm freshly certified in CPR and if you carry a defibrillator, I can rock that baby too!

Dave, this is an eye opening story that I can't wait to read the completion and yes, I have a feeling I know where you're going with this.

BigAl said...

Dave, I now see that you're a cardiac man like myself, although I didn't have the heart attack. I had A Fib and then 2 heart surgeries. Man have I got a story too. I am so glad you have made it and that you continue to get better. You never know just how good caching can be for your health. OKAY EVERYONE, LETS GET OUT THERE AND CACHERCISE.

Anonymous said...

I work at The Chester County Hospital and I thank God we were able to help you . Be well Dave.

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