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Surviving a Heart Attack During Surgery

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An example of a heart attack, which can occur ...

An example of a heart attack, which can occur after the use of a performance-enhancing drug. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. About the time they ripped off my leg and gave me a heart attack (Cardiac Event)
  2. And the entire first operation that went so amazingly well (Total Hip Replacement)
  3. So now I am being airlifted to Reno because of the heart attack during surgery.

Post-Surgical Flight

And so, I was lifted aboard a tiny aircraft bound for Reno, NV during the “…storm of the year…”, claimed our local newspaper, The Inyo Register. We folk in Mono and Inyo Counties are greatly disturbed by claims like this since any ‘storm of the year’ in Mammoth Lakes is taken extremely seriously. At the peak of Mammoth Mountainthe summit sits at 11, 053 feet. Remember that Anthony, my dearest husband of nearly 25 years, had to make the decision since I was still fairly ‘high’ on the narcotics they had given me. His choice was between flying me to Reno during this particular storm-my death seemed probable due to the air conditions, or remain in Mammoth Hospital. We both chose the air.

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain (Photo credit: snowboard4bradley)

The nurses and pilot giggled as I mentioned how smooth the flight was-so far. They told me that the very day before, they and the patient himself had all thrown up during the excursion. I’m terribly glad this flight was on the 14th rather than the 13th of March. And now, as April is about to hit mid-stride, the13th-Friday-will be a distant memory eventually.

Renown Bound

Smooth the flight remained through the rest of our trip. I was so ‘doped up’ that I did not even notice, however the 3 person crew were quite astonished at the ‘smooth as silk’ factor! We then arrived at the Reno, NV airport,-one I have no idea where-as me and my gurney were trotted off-quite uncomfortably-to the Cardiac Unit at Renown Hospital. As I was settling in to my room, I noticed that my ‘hospital roommate’ was very, very animated and happy. We became fast friends and both of us made much noise together.

Renown is a hospital that treats many illnesses-essentially a clearinghouse for sick people. Then they move on to medicinally greener pastures. My roomie, in fact, was in the clutches of a psychotic break. She was singing constantly, dancing, listening to loud and annoying music on her “ipod”-I think-and wanted me to listen to it, too. I did, once. After my realization of her condition-I cried to the nurses to move me, which they couldn’t-I left well enough alone. It was most difficult to reject her offers. We were already ‘friends’.

Doctors and Nurses at Renown

I have nothing but praise for the professionals who tended to me during my stay there. My only complaint would be that when they determined that I had not had a heart attack, but since they’d only so many beds, couldn’t move me. Thus, the daily meals were terribly bland and, well, boring. They were unable to transfer me to the Ortho Ward, which I was in dire need of in order to receive my physical therapy.

'Heart Attack' flower cluster

‘Heart Attack’ flower cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remained at Renown for 5 days and on my last day, Kathy, my favorite nurse allowed me to give myself a sponge bath before Anthony came to pick me up-it was absolutely heavenly.

Medications and Sanity

I am a recovering alcoholic/drug user and was loathe to accept any pharmaceutical assistance. However, I was unwilling to let the staff know of my addiction, so my situation regarding medications became quite an issue for me.

“Quite an issue”? Let’s get honest here, Laurel. It was extremely dangerous for me to be given these drugs. In A.A. and N.A., there is a ‘rule’ not to ever, ever try a drink or a drug again. It’s that simple.

They prescribed me Tramadol and Klonopin.  Tramadol (Ultram) is narcotic-like pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe pain. Klonopin is for anxiety. This class of medications is called Benzodiazepines, drugs that can be highly addictive. Don’t use them unless absolutely necessary.

For Stress Relief-Believe Me, I’ve Needed It!

Keep it Simple, Stupid!

But for me, it wasn’t so simple after all.

I am powerless in such a situation, in NA and AA this is a powerful phrase we use often to describe the hold that drugs and alcohol hold over us. So I was more than willing to encourage the nurses to inject these drugs into my I.V.  “Blessed, blessed I.V.”, that is exactly what I was thinking at the time.


nowopen! (Photo credit: Rob!)

Keep It Simple, Stupid” is a phrase that addresses the user of drugs and alcohol, reminding us to simplify our lives by only taking on only as much as we can, to ease up on ourselves; essentially not to take that first drug and/or drink. In the end, however, I was glad to have these pain medications, for the wound was extremely painful and I had no intention of going through surgery without them. My wound has now almost healed entirely and I am happy to say that I have ceased needing narcotics for the pain-which is almost non-existent at this point-and I am still taking the non-narcotic pain reliever Tramadol:

As it stands, at this moment I am taking the Tramadol for pain management and Klonopin for the anxiety I have felt ever since this whole fiasco began to unfold.

There is a part 3 so hold on tight it’s still a wild ride home (200 miles of PURE JOY! Not!)

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Written By:

Laurel Rogers

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About Richard Nelson

Freelance science writing all day and night. I'm an expert at writing, marketing, and publishing. Providing writing services nearly everyday, SEO rich articles about science and tech are my specialties. I also love to make money so I'm for hire as an independent communications expert and business consultant with specializations in project management, writing, science, and engineering. With a vast network of professionals in various fields backed by two degrees, 180 credits hours, 6 graduate courses and several awards and recommendations along the way, who could go wrong?


4 thoughts on “Surviving a Heart Attack During Surgery

  1. Great website, thanks for sharing this article with us

    Posted by Ben Seavey | May 23, 2012, 3:08 pm
  2. The heart muscle requires a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood to nourish it. The coronary arteries provide the heart with this critical blood supply. If you have coronary artery disease, those arteries become narrow and blood cannot flow as well as they should. Fatty matter, calcium, proteins, and inflammatory cells build up within the arteries to form plaques of different sizes. The plaque deposits are hard on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside.^

    Have a look at our own blog page as well

    Posted by Mike Regan | March 13, 2013, 4:44 pm


  1. Pingback: My 200 Mile Drive Home After Surgery | Freelance Science Writing - May 23, 2012

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