So, Where Are My Posts?


Warning: War and Peace was shorter. You’re going to be here a while.

“We interrupt MIP’s usual weekly posts for a rather odd event in MaryAnn’s normally boring life. We will resume MIP‘s regular “programming” when MaryAnn stops reaching for her nitroglycerin pills.”

I should have seen it coming. Actually, I did and it scared the stuffing out of me.

When I began this blog in January, I chose an ambitious goal–to post 6 times a week. If the Lord can work 6 days a week, I probably should, too, right? I also chose to do “series” posts on various days of the week, one of these being, “Slow Reader Thursdays,” in which I review books that I’m reading. I have a pile of books that should have been read a long time ago–many of them gifts from family and friends. But, attaining a master’s degree, working, and raising a family often left me too tired to focus on reading them by the end of the day.

I have been letting God “choose” the book to review each week–even if I look at the cover and have a “meh” reaction. These are mostly Christian books so far–which would be a big indicator of not only who my family and friends are, but also a little bit about me. Lately, God had me reading back-to-back-to-back books on death and Heaven. How did I respond to this? Well, I obediently read the first two and then pulled a big “Jonah” on the last one. I knew God was trying to warn me and yes, I knew what he was warning me about and I tried to substitute another, happier book. I should have known he’d throw a big whale at me if I did that and I live in central Texas where whales are so plentiful!

If you don’t know me well, we have to go back in history a bit: In 1999, at age 39, out of the blue, with no risk factors for heart disease, I had 2 back-to-back heart attacks. I was at a healthy weight; I had low blood pressure; I didn’t drink; I didn’t smoke; I didn’t have diabetes and no history of early heart attack. We also learned that my arteries were pretty clean for a 39 year old American woman who’s been through childbirth 3 times. So, why would someone like me have a heart attack, let alone 2?

It turns out I have Prinzmetal angina, or vasospasms. This means my coronary arteries spasm; the spasm causes a blood clot and the clot creates a heart attack. To this day the only thing they know is a risk factor for Prinzmetal, for sure, is cocaine use. I do have powdery stuff around my house, but we tend to refer to them as dust bunnies. There is considerable speculation that stress is a factor, but I don’t know how to completely rid my life of stress. If you figure it out, please let me know.

Here are the “facts” of Prinzmetal:

1. You cannot exercise or diet your way out of it.

2. 1 out of 2 die from Prinzmetal angina when they have a heart attack.

3. There is no way to diagnose your risk for Prinzmetal’s at this time.

4. If you have it, you can pretty much guarantee yourself that you will another heart attack every 10 to 15 years. And no one knows why.

5. Verapamil (I personally view it as a wonder drug.) can stop vasospasms. And this it did very kindly and very successfully, for 14 years. And that brings me to recent events in my life.

On June 6th, that “old, familiar feeling” from 1999 reared its ugly head again. And I was in the metroplex of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (about 75 miles from my home), without my drugs. Why? Because I had been healthy as a horse for the last 14 years and I get tired of being a walking pharmacy and sometimes a girl just needs more room in her purse or a smaller purse. (Stupid, right? I agree. Lesson learned–from now on the heart meds will be with me, no matter what. If I’m swimming in a pool soon, I’m putting them in a ziploc bag and strapping them (very unattractively) to my bathing suit.)

Fortunately, I have the world’s best hubby and he rushed me to a nearby convenience store, grabbed Bayer aspirin and I crammed 2 aspirin down my throat. The pain, thankfully, eased. I got home and took all the heart meds. It eased more. I went to bed and stayed there most of the weekend. Unfortunately, by Monday, my blood pressure was still up and my heart was cranky (My term for flashes of cardiac pain, but not heart attack symptoms.). I decided to go see my local doc and he ran tests. No sign of a heart attack, but knowing my wacky history, he ordered a nuclear stress test for 2 days later (We needed a cardiologist on-site for the test and I live in a very small town and this was the first opening with the cardiologist.)

Late on Monday night, the heart attack symptoms returned with a vengeance. I took the heart meds and nothing worked. I alerted that spectacular hubby of mine and we dressed quickly and went to the ER (which we can arrive at in less than 5 minutes, if necessary.). Bing. Bang. Boom. I was on a CareFlite going to the same hospital I went to in 1999. I was met by the heart catheterization (I tend to refer to arteriograms as “heart caths.”) team and bing, bang, boom, I was having an arteriogram yet again. And yes, again, they saw vasospasms. Unfortunately, this time, the spasming arteries were too small to insert a stent to keep the artery open and heart attack free (as they had done in 1999). They shot nitroglycerin (I usually call this nitro.) straight into the affected artery to no avail. Oh and one other thing, you’re awake for arteriograms, so my “counseloritis” was reading nonverbal behavior and not thrilled with what I was seeing from the heart cath team.

Plan B? Change and tweak meds until a winning combination was found to stop the vasospasms. Plan C? Nada. There’s nothing one can do to replace or repair a still healthy heart.

Now all of the above would be plenty for a gifted cardiologist to handle on a normal day. But I like to check and make sure docs are really on their game when I visit them. Thus, I throw chronic migraines and anaphylaxis to a variety of drugs into the mix. These little conditions all irritate the other, thus initiating one vicious cycle after another. It’s just loads of “fun”–trust me.

Thankfully, Plan B worked and I was home by Friday. Having been down this road before, I know that lots of bed rest, taking it easy, and clearing my schedule post-attack is required. I did so, only deciding to plant myself in my church pew on Sunday morning so I could say goodbye to my pastor and his family. They were moving to a new church and they mean a lot to me and we mutually cried our way through the service. I didn’t stand for the singing and let people come to me, if they wanted. I felt just fine.

Sunday night I couldn’t sleep, despite taking the prescribed sedative. I’m rather gifted at being a night owl insomniac. It’s when I “write” in my head, unfortunately. Normally, I would combat that with some treadmill time, but of course, this was not an option post-heart attack. So, I decided to put the “writing” on paper in my journal and pray it was out of my head enough to let me sleep. I finished up at midnight.

Almost at the same time, that old, familiar feeling returned again. Seriously? I grabbed my heart meds and tried, again, “to gain the upper hand.” But again, no response to the meds. So we pretty much repeated our prior week’s journey back to the metroplex hospital. What ensued for the next 24 to 48 hours was not pretty. This heart attack was different–my pain ebbed and flowed; the pain “floated” from one part of my heart to another; I was extremely nauseous; I had a hideous migraine and nothing worked. For the first time, I gave into groaning and moaning, sometimes yelling at my very faithful hubby, who never left my side. He and my nurse worked their rear ends off trying to solve my “issues.” I couldn’t even feed myself or swallow my meds on my own. My arm and hand veins, probably remembering the IV and blood sample pain from the previous week, did a rather large disappearing act. So, very soon, not only were my arms and hands radiating with pain, but they were badly bruised and throbbing almost non-stop.

I wasn’t sure how much more I could take. Thankfully, the chaplain from our local hospital, also a personal friend, paid a visit late into the evening and mercifully counseled me. (More about that later!) I could only muster a weak smile of thanks.

At one point I asked if they could just put me in a coma. My only relief was to sleep for a few hours and as soon as I woke, the pain and issues all returned. For some odd reason, I elected to have the hubby feed me the really bad hospital mashed potatoes…very, very slowly. Unlike all my usual nausea self-help foods, this seemed to work somewhat. They asked me if I could handle Mylanta or something similar. Usually, that just makes my vomiting worse. Then, from the deep reaches of my ancient memories, I remembered that I could sometimes thwart my nausea with Pepto Bismol tablets. The liquid did me in, but for some reason, I could handle the tablets.

Since this is not the normal treatment these days for nausea, it took them a while to get them to my floor, but I chewed the first two and felt less nauseous. I used that opportunity to eat more potatoes and a few other bland items. I asked if I could have more tablets. Two more were given and it improved even more. Pretty soon, the nausea was under control. Then, the medical staff could zone in on heart and migraine meds in full force to control these other issues.

Soon, the migraine was gone. The cardiologist did another arteriogram and indeed, I had had yet another heart attack. Tweaking meds began again. By Thursday, I was chomping to be discharged and now I’m back home yet again. Let’s hope I stay put this time.

Some have suggested that God is trying to teach me something and this is His way of getting my attention. I agree that I’ve learned a lot having had 4 heart attacks in 14 years, but trust me, I asked God what He wanted to teach me back in 1999 and I changed my lifestyle considerably and continue to do so, based on what I felt/feel He was/is showing me and teaching me. So, this time around I tend to think that God wants me, even in the midst of my agony, to be merciful to those around me who may be hurting in unseen ways. And that proved to be true. Some of the people taking care of me seemed to need an informal ‘counseling session’ from my hospital bed. Do I think there are other things I am to learn this time? Yes. Of course there are. He has been choosing to deepen his relationship with me even prior to these last 2 attacks and that proved to be really useful during the attacks.

The one thing that Prinzmetal teaches you emphatically is that you are not in control of your life. If you think you are, that’s an illusion. I know that God brought me into this world and He can take me out at any moment. So, I am literally painfully, aware that He is in charge–not me. And not my doctors and nurses. And I was ready to go to Heaven last Monday night if that was His will. (If you don’t believe me, talk to the hubby.) I don’t have a choice about it, so I might as well be willing. I choose to let Him order my life and whoever is in front of me, that’s my to-do list for the day. I cherish every moment here, but I also choose to look forward to Heaven where there is no more pain and I rest in Jesus’ arms and can be reunited with my “welcoming committee.” That’s not ghoulish…that’s just reality. And my God is very real.

Many of you have asked how you can help our family during this time. Trust me–we will contact you if help is needed, but by and large, we are fine. I just need time to heal. However, I do think 1 reason I was allowed to stick around for an additional 14 years was to make people aware of Prinzmetal angina, so please, please, please help me do that any way that you can.

And, of course, please pray for my family and friends. This is really tough on them when I go through this stuff, so I covet your prayers for them.  Finally, be the person God meant you to be. Don’t waste time on things that won’t get you closer to that goal. You never know when your next breath is your last breath. Doing that will help me the most, because I love you all and do get concerned when I see you straying from who you were designed to be. You will lower my stress level considerably if you get laser-focused on that. Change is possible–I’m living proof.

I now have a very interesting, very rare viewpoint that most do not get to experience and I actually consider it a gift to get to be a part of the Creator God’s master plan in small, but hopefully, meaningful ways because of my “health adventures.” Oh, and one more thing: I choose to poke a little fun at this, because what else am I supposed to do with this??? And so…stay tuned….your favorite “Lessons Learned” are coming your way sometime very soon. (In fact it’s already drafted–I tend to think God actually writes these–I’m not that funny in real life–trust me.) Laughter is a great healer and I prefer to think that God has the sickest, most twisted sense of humor on the planet when it comes to me.

In addition to sharing my “Lessons Learned,” I also want to share some of the stuff I learned this time, both practically and spiritually and share the things that God chose to use during the latest health adventures, so forgive me for interrupting the normal flow of posts here on MIP (Expect me to post at odd times! I don’t get to dictate my energy level or cranky heart moments right now.) temporarily to do so. I promise to return to them just as soon as God decides I’ve had enough helicopter rides for a while.

Tomorrow’s Post: The Song that Says It All…

You might also like: 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part I; 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part II; 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part III; 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part IV

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This entry was posted on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. June 23rd, 2013 | Kathy Steinberg says:

    So good to see you still writing and having your MA sense of humor! I asked for prayers for you and your family during sharing time this morning in church. As I was speaking I realized that we have probably known each other for around 40 years! How special is that?!

  2. June 23rd, 2013 | maryann says:

    Totally agree! And we survived 4 whole years of living together…that may be even more impressive…well, at least for you. 😉

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