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Old 07-17-2009, 12:52 PM   #1
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Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

About a year & a half ago, my husband had his first documented heart attack at 38 years old. The reason I say documented is because he had been having a lot of pain for about a year leading up to it and we found out after the attack that there was a lot of damage that appeared to have happened months before. After the heart attack, he had angioplasty done and 1 stent was put in. It was a drug-eluting one. While he was in recovery, the artery started to bleed and his blood pressure dropped to around 40/55 so he was rushed into surgery again to repair the rupture. He was put on Lovastatin, Lisinopril, Metropolol, Plavix, and baby aspirin, and of course given a script for Nitro. He went back to work at his job as a landscaper a few months later and because he is a stubborn man, worked through way more pain than he should have. He didn't tell anyone about the pain in his arm, jaw, & chest or how many Nitro's he was taking regularly. By the end of the season, I knew something was seriously wrong and was sick of being worried about him constantly. By that point he had started to inform me that he had constant pain to some degree on his entire left side of his body, all the way down his leg. It was aggravated by any sort of physical activity at all, even walking up stairs. So I made him an appointment with his cardiologist. He decided to schedule another angiogram for the following week. They ended up finding that the 1st stent that was put in had closed up completely and they put another stent in a different artery. That was a plain metal one, no drug. He had a heart attack during the procedure too. The doctor explained that because of the lack of blood flow, almost half of my husband's heart muscle is completely dead & that there's another artery that's partially blocked that he didn't do anything to. But a couple hours after the procedure we were back home. For the first week after the procedure, it was the first time in almost a year that he was completely pain free. But of course, it didn't last. He told the doctor at his follow up appointment but he didn't do anything other than raise the dosages on some of his meds. He only wanted him to take the Plavix for another month and then stop. I don't understand why he would have stopped it with more blockage, but he did. Like I said, my husband is extremely stubborn so he won't even tell me about all the pain he's in. I have to try to judge by his mannerisms how he's feeling. He sleeps all the time and does complain of the constant pain on the left side again. I've watched him go from a fit looking hard worker to someone who can't even walk 5 blocks to pick the kids up from school or vacuum the living room without taking a Nitro...or 2...or 3. He has gained a ton of weight because he is completely unable to do any type of physical activity. It's hard to be the only working person in a household of 6 (us, our 3 kids, and my mother in law). But the hardest part is feeling like his doctor isn't doing all he should be for him. Aside from the two procedures I spoke of, nothing more has ever been done. No other testing, no stress tests, nothing. And what kind of doctor says that half of your heart is completely dead but does nothing about it? He's supposedly a highly sought after doctor. He's the head of cardiology for the whole network of hospitals in our area and has been published in many medical journals...blah blah blah. But how good is he if he just lets a man die? I don't know what tests he should have done or what can be done to help him at this point. All I know is that I'm 32 years old with 3 kids and a dying husband and I'm worried sick. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what direction we should go from here? Any advice would be greatly appreciated because I'm a mess trying to deal with all of it. I just don't want my husband to die but I'm watching him deteriorate every day. I'm afraid to even have sex with him because he has chest pain every single time. Any information would be great. Thanks in advance.

 
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Old 07-17-2009, 05:51 PM   #2
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead...the doctor gave up?!

You mention several times that your husband hides, or minimizes his symptoms. In order for any doctor to give the best medical support, the patient has to be fully on board with the doctor. To be a good patient takes quite a commitment, and often requires prodding your doctor for answers, doing your research, and keeping accurate records of his symptoms.

Doctor visits can often be quick, so have your questions and concerns written down, and don't leave without clear understanding of the answers.

It is very possible that your husband is in a state of denial, and is trying to protect the family by being the strong man.

You might need to intervene in his health care, if he is too ill. He most likely qualifies for state of govt. aid of some type, being disabled. There are many services available that are yours just for the asking, so consider those.

I am so sorry for all you and your family is going through right now. Remember, you can always come here to vent, or get support. Keep us posted.

 
Old 07-18-2009, 01:17 AM   #3
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Yes, he does minimize his symptoms. He doesn't understand that I'd rather know the truth now so we can PREVENT worse things in the future. But when he does go to the doctor, he's honest. And if he's not, I am. So between the 2 of us, the doctor is always aware of all his symptoms. I guess my biggest problem is that if the doctor knows half of his heart is dead and will never function again, why isn't he giving us options or alternatives? I mean do you just send a patient home to die without trying to save them first? Is he a candidate for a transplant? Bypass? Should he go to cardiac rehab? Should other tests be done? I have asked all of these questions on numerous occasions and never gotten a straight answer. My husband may not prod the doctor, but I do. I just feel frustrated every time we leave there because I feel like he's always rushing us out of the office without answers. He seems to talk around my questions instead of answering them. And it seems like he tries to pacify us by writing a new script or changing dosages around.

As far as state programs/aid, apparently the state of Washington where we live doesn't approve State Medical for adults, only children. I changed jobs (for better pay so I could afford to support us) & lost the insurance we had. I applied for it for him, but our kids were approved instead. When I called to explain why it was so important for him to have medical insurance, they explained the budget cuts and told me that we MIGHT qualify for an insurance through the state that we have to pay for, but the problem is, they don't treat pre-existing conditions. He did apply for Social Security Disability, but unfortunately that's a long drawn out process so we're still waiting on that.

I'm just really frustrated and scared. I guess the hardest part is thinking about how to still be here emotionally for our kids and not fall apart if he dies. They're only 13, 9, & 6 so they will be so dependent on me not only emotionally, but just to function as a normal adult & continue to provide for them. I try so hard not to think about that, but it's really hard when I see his health decline every day. I don't complain to anyone. I just do my best to be a good wife and mother and work as hard as I can at my job. I don't want anyone to see that I feel like I'm breaking down and falling apart...but I do feel that way. I actually almost feel stupid venting about it on here because I rarely whine about any of it at all. Ugh.

 
Old 07-18-2009, 05:47 AM   #4
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynae76 View Post
... He was put on Lovastatin, Lisinopril, Metropolol, Plavix, and baby aspirin, and of course given a script for Nitro.
Coreg (Carvedilol) was shown, in clinical tests, to improve failed heart muscle. You could ask your doctor if it is suitable for your husband.

I've had heart failure for over 20 years. The combination of Coreg and Digoxin has made a big difference in my health.

Quote:
He has gained a ton of weight because he is completely unable to do any type of physical activity.
I also had a problem with weight until 2004 when I went on a strict diet. Before then I refused to diet or change my ways. To most men, "diet" is a four letter word! It was only after I was so extremely fatigued and sickly, and thought I was dying that I decided to try a healthier diet. At that time, I also was not able to do much exercise.

I then lost weight and improved my health solely through diet. A small meal, low calorie, high fiber, frequent eating diet made a huge difference in my health. I now powerwalk an hour a day, and do 150 push-ups, 400 steppers and 300 weight lifts per day.

I've learned a lot about living with, and improving my heart failure and health. I've posted what I have learned in a Thread named: The four essential steps, that I've taken, that help me live with Heart Failure, which is also in Heart Disorders. The direct link is: http://www.healthboards.com/boards/showthread.php?t=641933

Best of luck and health to both you and your husband!
__________________
CHF, A-Fib, HBP, Diabetes, Asthma doing great

⇒ Avoid allergic & non-allergic irritants/triggers
⇒ Low calorie ovo-vegetarian diet
⇒ Power walk, weight lifts, pushups
⇒ Coreg 25mg bid

Last edited by Machaon; 07-18-2009 at 07:25 AM.

 
Old 07-18-2009, 01:15 PM   #5
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Thanks Machaon! I will definitely ask the doc about Coreg. And about the "D" word...diet, that's a tough one. He is the pickiest eater I know. He likes what he likes and refuses to try much else. It's so frustrating to me because I love almost everything and eat pretty healthy myself. Sometimes I almost feel like I'm at the point where I want to say, "fine, don't change the way you eat...don't change your lifestyle...just let yourself die if that's what you want." Of course that's not what I want to say and I'll never just give up on him, but it's tough to be in the passenger's seat with someone who is unwilling to make the needed changes in the driver's seat. But I'm working on him...

So did you actually count calories or was it more of controlling what types of foods you ate and the portions and frequency of your meals?

 
Old 07-18-2009, 03:28 PM   #6
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Lynae,

We are here, whenever you need us. Holding all this inside is terribly difficult, and no one takes your serious concerns as whining, or complaining. Facing such serious medical issues is often a long tough road, particularly for the caretaker. I am so sorry you are going through this...

As impossible as this sounds, it is very important that you take care of yourself too. With all this on your shoulders, and being a mom to three young children, you need to recharge your batteries too. Do you have any chance to take a little time for yourself?

I wish your family the best, and keep in touch.

 
Old 07-18-2009, 04:38 PM   #7
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Lynae76:

Has the cardiologist ever given you a figure for his current left ejection fraction?

I've been through the business of having a left descending coronary artery plug up and leave a lot of my lower heart nothing but scar tissue. It left me completely miserable with angina. I couldn't walk five blocks; in fact I couldn't walk one block without sitting down on the curb and letting the angina subside once or twice.

Seven years later, I had bypass surgery (stents weren't developed at the time) and 6 bypasses were installed. Believe me, the seven years between MI and CAGB surgery were miserable for me.

But after the surgery, I was angina free. I could and did walk from three to five miles every day at a rapid pace. To me, it was as if the surgeons had passed a miracle.

My recent ejection fractions measured by echocardiograms have been 25% ( firmly in heart failure land). And last year I had an ICD implanted to shock my heart if it goes haywire.

Had the heart attack at age 47 and bypasses at age 54. I'm now 83 and still going strong.

I've been on a lot of cardiac medicines including Coreg (for about 3 years), beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors. Has the cardiologist given your husband any medicines other than nitro?

Don't give up. It sounds as if you might look for a second opinion. My experience with angina after the heart attack that was finally relieved by surgery illustrates that sometimes things can be done to help.

Best wishes,
Bill

 
Old 07-20-2009, 11:38 PM   #8
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by writeleft View Post

As impossible as this sounds, it is very important that you take care of yourself too. With all this on your shoulders, and being a mom to three young children, you need to recharge your batteries too. Do you have any chance to take a little time for yourself?
I had to chuckle a little when I read that. Yes, it's probably an obvious fact that I need to take care of myself. But I'd be lying if I said I really did. I think I was born to worry about other people more than myself. Rationally I know I have to take care of myself, but when it actually comes down to doing it...well, that's another story. I'd much rather be home with the family just being a wife and a mom. I do take time for myself just to relax and regroup, usually in the form of researching things on the internet or reading. I'm a nerd. My biggest problem is not taking care of my own health, which I'm trying to work on. I focus on working my butt off to support us and usually I'm just too physically and emotionally exhausted to think of much else. All that said, I'm doing ok for the most part. I'm just thankful for places like this where I can come & vent (translation: whine) just a little bit.

Bill, the cardiologist hasn't given us any figures or anything really definitive. In my opinion, he's very vague about most things. I was also very shocked when he did the last angiogram and put another stent in, yet said there was another clogged artery that he didn't touch. I don't know why he wouldn't try to repair that one. Everything you described that you went through sounds just like my husband. It actually gives me some hope that with the PROPER care, he'll be ok. It's just frustrating when I feel like the doctor has given up all hope on him. When he said that my husband would be lucky to see his kids graduate from high school, that blew me away. I'm definitely going to discuss the option of bypass with him, and if he doesn't agree to it, it's time for a 2nd opinion. I've been leaning that way more & more lately anyway.

He is currently on Lovastatin, Lysinopril, Metropolol, and baby aspirin and was on Plavix for a few months after the 1st surgery and for a month after the 2nd one. The dosages keep changing (usually raised), but it's been the same meds the whole time.

I really want to thank everyone for their responses and insight. I guess I just started to feel a little too helpless and needed somewhere to go get it all out and regain some of the hope I had way in the beginning. When you feel like you're getting nowhere with the doctors that are supposed to be fixing things, it tends to bring you down every now & then. But thanks to everyone here, I feel refreshed and ready to push forward. So many heartfelt thanks. I think I just needed a little kick in the butt to get me going again.

 
Old 07-21-2009, 12:38 PM   #9
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

I hear ya, girlfriend! I got the same advice, and I laughed too...not because it was funny, but because it sounded ridiculous to me, too.

Honestly, I can't do it either, and neither can my mother, or her mother before her. Many women are just wired that way, and are strong enough to give to others, before themselves...I believe bearing children activates our deepest animal instincts.

I'm so sorry about the struggle you are having with your husbands heart, not to mention the doctor! Perhaps it is time to seek another doctor, who communicates well, and guides you through the proper testing, offering you options, and motivating you through it all.

I am happy to hear that you are feeling better today, and you can always come here to express your feelings, no matter what they are. Thank you for the kind words, and give those darling little girls a bug hug...and your husband too!

 
Old 07-21-2009, 08:46 PM   #10
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

WE ARE WOMEN, HEAR US ROAR!!!!

Ya wanna know the really ironic part of all this? I'm the "freak" of the family...I'm bipolar. I'm supposed to be the one who cracks under pressure and can't handle problems. Pffffft...whatever! My mother, the so-called "normal" one, comes to ME for advice and a shoulder to cry on. Well, her and everyone else I know. lol I'm one tough cookie and I refuse to give up when I don't like the potential outcome. I was born to take care of people, and I do just that. I kiss boo boos and wipe away tears for my kids and my hubby. And again, everyone else I meet. And ya know, I wouldn't have it any other way.

All that said, it's definitely time for a 2nd opinion. I just wanna find a doctor that will DO something instead of saying, "sorry ma'am but your husband will be lucky to see his kids graduate from high school." Are you kidding me?? I won't accept that kind of answer. Ever.

 
Old 07-22-2009, 12:07 PM   #11
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Those fancy doctor's credentials they hang all over their offices never read "Best Bedside Manner", or "Most Popular"...do they?

Unfortunately you have to weed through them, and you only know they stink, when they make comments like yours did! Toss him.

It is perfectly OK to change doctors, because your relationship with them should be positive, communication open. Just keep copies of his records and tests, etc.


 
Old 07-26-2009, 10:45 PM   #12
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

I had a massive heart attack after having 3 stents put in and all 3 stents clotting. My EF was 17 and the whole bottom part of my heart was dead. In my case, I had a heart transplant four months after the heart attack. Never give up asking questions. Demand the answers. Doctors sometimes forget that it is us the patients that pay their salary. I had a wonderful advocate while I was too sick to deal with it. It sounds like your husband has the same. My thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

 
Old 08-06-2009, 09:08 AM   #13
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Re: Half of the heart muscle is dead... the doctor gave up?!

Lynae

I just came on this board today because like you I have a husband who had his first heart attack at 48 (last year). He of course has been having pain for at least weeks if not months before this attack. The day of his attack he never told me how sick he was, so I drove to work (one hour away) which in itself is strange because I typically take a commmuter bus, was at work for maybe 2 hours when my neighbor from next door called to tell me that my husband was being transported to the hospital via ambulance and to expect a call. Well I was already in the car and on my to the hospital when that call came. He spent 4 days in the hospital and was released after having numerous test. His saving grace and my luck was he actually did get a great cardiologist. This cardiologist saw him in his office within 3 days and scheduled him for a cardiac cath 2 days later. I say my luck because before this cardiologist would do the cath, he insisted on speaking to me to explain the procedure, make sure I understood why and how the procedure was going to be done and what possible outcomes to expect. He than came to introduce himself the day of the procedure and once he finished, he came right out to find me and inform me of the results. He also made sure that I had his cell phone number in case I had any further questions. Well fast forward to May 26 of this year and again I receive that awful call that my husband has been hurt at work and is being sent to the er to be evaluated. Sounds minor in nature, however, you know how you get that sick feeling, well, I had that sick feeling and once I again got to the hospital, I found him laying on a stretcher, hooked up to monitors and oxygen flowing. Against my better judgment I agreed to have him admitted to this hospital instead of insisting that he once again get transferred into the city to where his cardiologist practices because they were only going to observe him. Well I can tell you the very next day they urgently transferred him into the city, he was stablized and it turns out he had a reaction to a medication and was released the next day-fine for ten days when again I get a call to come home and find him collapsed on my front lawn with a police officer over him and the ems squad approaching. I can only tell you that I really thought I was going to loose him several times that weekend. It turns out that he has what is called diastolic heart failure-translation, the blood does not fully get pumped back into his heart. So his heart attacks are actually ischemic attacks, which maybe your husband is having. My husbands was found on his second cardiac cath in 11 months by the same wonderful cardiologist who really had no plans to do the procedure again until I used that wonderful cell phone number he gave me at 11:00pm on a Saturday night and told him how much I loved him, however, I respectfully disagreed with the present treatment plan and wanted something more diagnostic. Aparently, during a cardiac cath it is not standard procedure to check the pressures around the heart, however, he decided to do just that and to his surprise, they were very high. The good thing is that my husband is already on the correct medications to help control the high pressures, the bad thing is that he no longer can work in his present job and he can no longer lift weights (his most favorite pasttime). He still does not let me know when he is feeling pain, has yet to go down to the pharmacy to pick up his prescription of nitro and still does things that he has been forbitten to do.
So yes I really can feel you pain, some what like you, I do have one 13 year old daughter and I have now become the sole bread winner. I have been placing applications everywhere looking for a second job. Just this week, I have finally gotten some positive feedback on two possible job offers. I had a interview with Cracker Barrel yesterday and they want me back for a second one tomorrow and I have a first interview this afternoon at Olive Garden and that actually sound promising. Thank God I maintain the health insurance for the family, so I do not have to face that additional stressor.
I am tired and cranky and very frustrated that my husband would still do things that would adversly effect his health.
I am so sorry that you have to go through your husbands health crisis--we love them but these are the times when we really dislike them. I can tell you how much comfort I get reading that there are other people in this world who have or are experiencing identical problems and I get my strenghth through them.

Feel my <<<hugs>>> and know that I will be thinking of you over here on the east coast, keep writing so that I know you are alright.

Brenda

 
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