Saturday, July 3, 2021

Prinzmetal Angina

A light bout of fear and weakness laid me to low to post yesterday.

Last Wednesday I met my friends to walk our dogs. We’ve been walking the Ricki Ave. Trail three times a week for over a year and that’s where we met. At its start is a fairly long uphill climb, but it is a gentle slope, and I am always at the lead. However, last Wednesday, I could not make it up the hill. I had to ask Judith to stop with me for a rest half-way up. We slowed our pace after that, and made it to the top, but I was thoroughly winded, and for the rest of the walk I had a periodic sense of exhaustion.

Thursday morning, I returned to the same place with Sheba and the climb was even more difficult. I had to stop and rest, bending over with my hands on my knees, five times! It was brutal and I knew something was wrong. I almost cancelled my dinner that night with Eoin, François and Jay, but I didn’t. I spent much of the day lying down between active sessions of preparing for the dinner. The worst part was the feeling of being shot of breath

Friday was even worse. I rose at 5:00, fed the pets, and went back to bed after writing to my fellow dog walkers to as that move our walk to Windecker Trail that is flat. After the walk, I went back to bed and stayed there all day suffering periodic bouts of shortness of breath, so I went to sleep early in the evening. I knew what was wrong and it had me scared. 

What was happening has happened twice before when I was in my thrities. The second time it happened, I felt worse and worse, going off food, vomiting a lot and constantly fatigued. Only when my left arm started hurting, did I consider that it might be my heart that was the problem and I went to the hospital. The doctors there confirmed I’d had a heart attack and when they did an echo cardiogram, they saw the evidence of two attacks, so I knew that my period of fatigue and weakness long before was the first one.

They diagnosed me with Prinzmetal Syndrome—it’s spasm of the coronary artery. The spasm allows blood to get to the heart, but not as much as is needed. Hence the fatigue and weakness. But there’s no treatment, but that’s why I drink Diet Coke all the time. Constant dosing with caffeine is the best defence against recurrence of the problem. 

I knew that the trouble of the past few days was due to PS, but there was naught for me to do but to wait for it to self-correct or get worse. If it worsened, I’d go to the hospital, but as long as I could eat, I felt going to the doctor was pointless. I felt dreadful all day yesterday—too weak to do anything and I was scared and sad. That’s why I spent all day in bed except for walking slowly with Sheba for two short walks. 

But just before I went to bed, I had a sense the spasm had stopped. I felt interested like myself again, so I went to bed feeling optimistic. And this morning, I can feel an enthusiasm for life again. I’ve been doing errands like normal; I feel good and so, so relieved! In a while, I’ll return to the Ricki Ave. Trail with Sheba to walk the hill as a test. If I can do it without stopping, I’ll know for sure that the spasm has stopped.

I blame the heat spell we had. That’s when this bout of trouble started. My last coronary spasm was when I was 44 years old; that was twenty-nine years ago.

So … back to normal. I’ve a cake to bake today to take to Nanoose Bay tomorrow where friends will celebrate being together and Dianne’s birthday. Thank God that my PS stopped in time to allow me to celebrate this being with friends. I’ve been looking forward to tomorrow for months. I was going to sleep in my van and stay a second day, but I have to return to Gabriola to get my second Covid shot on Monday. 

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