I love Grey's Anatomy - been watching since the very first season. I learned about "The Golden Hour" on an episode that aired this past February. Oddly enough, I would recall this episode months later, realizing that one of the characters suffered a condition similar to mine, with a very different outcome.
The opening monologue:
The cardiologist on-call, Dr. Pacheco, arrived after I had taken my second nitro. He indicated that based on my symptoms, there were two possibilities - peri-partum cardiomyopathy or spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). The next hour moved so quickly -He ordered blood tests and an ultrasound of my heart. The blood tests came back with elevated cardiac enzymes - indicative of the death of cells in the heart muscle. My ultrasound caused a room full of nurses, med students, doctors and even the ultrasound tech to fall silent. Midway down, my left anterior descending (LAD, also known as "the widow maker") coronary artery was 100% blocked. The diagnosis was SCAD(http://www.spontaneouscoronaryarterydissection.com/).
I was taken into to surgery so quickly, I didn't even sign my own consent forms. Brian and my mom wanted to call a family member (currently in a cardiac fellowship). Dr. Pacheco, while rattling off orders to the staff, thrust his cell phone number at Brian. "You can call whomever you want. Here's my cell phone number, you can give it to him. She's going into surgery now." And then I was whisked into the Cardiac Catheterization Lab where, over the course of an hour or so, a catheter would be inserted into an artery in my right leg and fed up into my heart. The tear in my LAD required two stents. In the CCL, you are given local anesthesia - I was awake for most of my procedure. I watched my heart, illuminated with iodine, beating on one huge flatscreen, and I watched the catheter move through my body on another. I felt a sharp, stabbing sensation as tiny balloons were inflated in my chest to place the stents. And then, I felt a rush of calm wash over me, as the blood flow was restored to the bottom (apex) of my heart. My incision site was healed and Dr. Pacheco shared that my heart was in great shape, despite the day's events.
My parents, brother, cousins and husband were waiting for me when I was wheeled out of the cath lab. Each looked like they'd been hit by a bus. All day long, I had known that something serious was happening, but it was so surreal that I didn't really feel it until that moment, seeing the looks on their faces. I had survived something HUGE. I didn't, and still don't, understand how I'm still here. I was taken to the cardiac ICU where I'd be closely monitored for the next few days. I hadn't pumped or breastfed for hours and I had wet spots on my hospital gown. The cardiac nurses had to borrow a pump from labor and delivery so I could keep up my milk supply. I didn't sleep much that night, partially from the noise of the monitors and blood pressure cuff and partially because I was scared I wouldn't wake up. And, at this point, no one had said the words "heart attack". In fact, I wouldn't realize until the the next day that I'd even had one.
To be continued............
Meredith: An hour, one hour, can change everything forever. An hour can save your life. An hour can change your life. Sometimes an hour is a gift we give ourselves. For some, an hour can mean almost nothing. For others, an hour makes all the difference in the world. But in the end, it's still just an hour. One of many. Many more to come. Sixty minutes. Thirty-six hundred seconds. That's it. Then it starts all over again. And who knows what the next hour might hold