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Thread: Angioplasties, stents and hunting

  1. #1
    Member AK_Taxidermist's Avatar
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    Default Angioplasties, stents and hunting

    Greetings to everyone!

    My Easter weekend did not quite pan out as planned. For the past few weeks I had been experiencing some odd feeling in my chest. It was more of a tightness at first, but progressed to more of a dull ache. Even though I know that the strongly advised course of action is to go to a hospital right away, I delayed going while waiting for my doctor to get back in town. He did and I went to see him last Wednesday. It was determined that my blood pressure was high and the EKG he did was way out of whack. I was advised to get to Anchorage immediately, sooner if possible. Actually the "enzyme test" revealed no damage and I was able to go in the next day. Further tests at the AK Heart Institute revealed that there likely was a blockage issue somewhere. On Easter morning, as my church family in DLG celebrated our Lord's ascension from the grave, I was laying on my back undergoing an angiogram, angioplasty and the insertion of a single stent. I had a 100% blockage (if you're going to do something, give it your all, right?) just past the fork on my left main coronary artery. I was told that everything went very well, that there was no damage and things should go back to normal now. By the way, my two doctors were Dr. Kramer and Dr. Mayer. Dr. Mayer is the gentleman who oversaw everything and consulted with me. Dr. Kramer actually performed the procedure. I was very pleased with both of them, in as far as what I've seen and know of them so far.

    Just a bit more background: I'm 45 and had never previously had any health issues. I'm a bit overweight but not grotesquely so. What likely brought me down was a combination of not enough exercise, genetics and poor eating habits. I don't drink or smoke so that did not and will not factor in.

    So here's my request/questions: I'd like to hear from others, if there are others, who have had stents put in and how it affected them moving forward, with regards to their hunting. Thoughts, experiences, advice... any of that would be good to read. And I'm going to have some time to read over the next week or so anyway. If you have had a stent put in, or are familiar with someone who has, and would be willing to share your story, I'd really enjoy hearing about it. In my mind, I'm 45 and I have a whole lotta critters to still shoot. (though any chance at a spring bear- short of one dancing in my yard- dissipated on that hospital table Sunday)

    Thank you all in advance for your time.

    Terry

    BTW, if you've never had a catheter inserted to relieve your urinary bladder, my strong recommendation is that you take out your pencil and erase that from your bucket list. I had to have one, right after the procedure. Wow... yeah, it hurts, and in a place that should never, ever feel pain. I know the nurse was gentle, but I glanced down right before she put it in. I swear what I saw (must have been the medication) was Uther Pendragon raising up Excaliber to plunge into the rock. That's kinda how it felt too.

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    This is classic. I'll be passing it around the nurse's station if you don't mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by AK_Taxidermist View Post
    BTW, if you've never had a catheter inserted to relieve your urinary bladder, my strong recommendation is that you take out your pencil and erase that from your bucket list. I had to have one, right after the procedure. Wow... yeah, it hurts, and in a place that should never, ever feel pain. I know the nurse was gentle, but I glanced down right before she put it in. I swear what I saw (must have been the medication) was Uther Pendragon raising up Excaliber to plunge into the rock. That's kinda how it felt too.
    I am an RN up at FMH. In general what you had was a wake up call. Clean up your diet, drop some pounds, start working out regularly. Don't start smoking. End of lecture.

    As far as the stent, you should be good to go for many many years. What you want to keep an eye on is how well your blood clots. Likely you are on some kind of blood thinner maybe for the next six weeks or so, and then maybe a baby aspirin every day for the rest of your life.

    So you are going to have to be careful about getting cuts, and carry some bandages with you. If they have to get really agressive about keeping your blood thin enough to keep the stent open, not only should you probably not hunt, but maybe not use staples and staple pullers any more either. No kitchen knives. No carpentry tools. You don't want to go there.

    Best things you can do to keep the stent open while still having your blood "thick" enough to still hunt, same as above: Clean up your diet, drop some pounds, start working out regularly. Don't start smoking. End of lecture.

    If you do your part you'll likely be in the field September 1.

  3. #3
    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    AK Taxi - Roger that on the catheter!!!! I can tell you that if you hadn't looked, you would have sworn on everything holy that she was inserting about 6 feet of garden hose wrapped in barbed wire!

    "Now just relax, you're going to feel a little pressure". Ya, right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    My dad is 73. He has a stent and has been wearing a pacemaker for past 5 years. He hunted with us last year and shot an awesome bull with no issues at all. He's diabetic, high cholestorol, high blood pressure, and takes like 25 pills every day.

    It doesn't keep him from doing what he loves.

    The day I stop gettin after it, well that's the day I die. Live your life man, stent/pacemaker/splint/whatever.

    that's my. 02.
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  5. #5
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    AK Taxi,
    While I am stint-less, I have similar issues...veinous clots. Started having DVT & PE's at 40...the doc's didn't truely figure it out until I hit 46. You get blockage in the heart, I get blockage in the lungs...same bad juju. In my case it's a genetic thing...have a couple of clotting disorders. I'm on high-dose blood thinners for life. While initially it put the brakes on some of my activities, I've learned how to deal with it...I still play with knifes, chainsaws & power tools, and hunt in remote areas. If you go on long term thinners (Warfarin, Plavix, etc.) just remember that applying pressure stops external bleeding. I carry "Quik Clot" made by Z-Medica...you can buy it at REI. Your worst problem will be internal bleeding...car wrecks suck for a guy on thinners. Bear attacks are probably fatal too...be faster than the bear or your hunting partner. There are positives...tell your wife you can reduce bleeding risk by not shaving! Anyway, I'm dead in a week without them, but I'm not going to let that get in the way of living...I'd rather have a flaming obituary (bear attack, gored by a moose, pushed off a cliff by a 40" ram) than one where I check-out from a hospital bed. I'm careful with sharp objects. Get the doc's to figure out what caused your blockage and deal with it, and then live your life to the fullest!

  6. #6

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    Hi Terry,

    SWMN hit it spot on.

    Routine aerobic exercise to strengthen the heart muscle. Clean up your diet to keep cholesterol levels under control and loose the excess weight. If you smoke....STOP!

    If you hit those 3 critical areas, you've done as much as you can to have a long healthy life after a cardiac event.

    Check to see if the hospital in Dillingham offers a cardiac rehab class to help with the exercise and diet issues. If you are a smoker there are lots of plans to help you stop, but it's mostly about you making up your mind that you are going to quit. Once you make up your mind, the stop smoking program just helps support your decision.

    If no cardiac rehab classes in Dillingham, talk to the folks at Alaska Heart to get all the info you can and some guidance for changing your diet.


    You're one of the lucky ones. Remember, denial is not a river in Egypt. When you have symptoms.....get help now.

  7. #7

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    A couple of years ago I had the full monty in the heart department,bypass,valve,angio,and a pacemaker. In 6 weeks work commenced on my Bristol Bay boat and after finishing up a great season in the bay went on to guide 3 sheep hunts and a goat hunt in the Wrangells. I take a bunch of pills (thinners too) but other than cutting my drinking bad to about 20% of previous levels there has been no changes in my everyday life. You can certainly tell you've been cut open but nothing more than a little soreness when you give yourself a good workout.

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    [QUOTE=tlingitwarrior;1107162]My dad is 73. He has a stent and has been wearing a pacemaker for past 5 years. He hunted with us last year and shot an awesome bull with no issues at all. He's diabetic, high cholestorol, high blood pressure, and takes like 25 pills every day.

    It doesn't keep him from doing what he loves.


    that's pain awesome!!...

  9. #9
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    Don't let the stents slow you down. At age 40 (I am 45 now), I found myself in your situation. Although I ate pretty healthly, exercise more than most, didn't smoke and drank socially, I found myself medivac'd to Anchorage where the "installed" three stents. A year later on a follow-up appointment the decided to install a four stent. The doctor's were great at the Alaska Heart Inst. and claimed my heart conditions came from poor genetics and severe sleep apnea. Everyone in the recovery room said I didn't look like I belonged there. The doctor explained I had two choices, one was slow down my life or continue to live the adventurous life. I choose to continue to live life to the fullest. Since then I exercise more often, eat better than I did prior to my first heart surgery, use my "sleep machine" at night but I continue to hunt and fish just as hard if more then prior to my surgery. I have been on a walk in sheep hunt, goat hunt, bison hunt (wife's tag) moose, archery bear and caribou hunts since my surgery five years ago. I take my medicine twice a day and always make sure I have extra's in backpack and on the boat. Most I the time I carry "nitro" pills with me but I have not needed them. You need to know the med's will make you bleed more when you accidentally cut yourself skinning a bear or filleting a salmon, so you will want to be a least aware of that. I have two kids a 14 year old girl and an eight year old boy that need me around to share with them the great outdoors. The both love spending time with me in the outdoors and my daughter harvested her own caribou and bear this past year.

    This past spring break we traveled to Disney World and my daughter dragged me along to all the intense rides and they all have signs up warning of potential danger to "heart patients" and my daughter commented, "Dad, I can't imagine what we would be doing if you had a good heart

    Send me a PM if you have any questions. Having a heart problem at such a young age stressed me out but with today's advanced medical care I feel very confident that if you take a little extra care we will be around to watch our children grow old.

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    Just a note that you all should know about. Alaska Heart Institute offers what they call the "Healthy Hearts Clinic". For $230 you get a Calcium Scoring CT, a visit with a board certified Cardiologist, a complete blood panel workup, a visit with a nutritionist and an exercise physiologist...AND you can schedule yourself, you do not need a referral from a doc to get in. I did it, my wife did it and I have told all my friends...one of them was right on the cusp of having a heart attack...what's your life worth ya know !

  11. #11
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    Keep on walking...

    Had a stent Dec 2000, 3 months later chest was tight and left arm had pain. Driving from Cantwell to Anc, got into Wasilla right at morning rush hour, drunk driver rear ended a car with 2 lady's in it, pushed their car under the backside of a 2 ton van, I stopped,,
    nobody esle did, lady's were okay, I wouldn't let the drunk out of his car, traffic just kept going, about 10 minutes later a cop shows up, he told me to stick around for a report, I told him I thought I was having heart problems,,, we parted ways. Got to Providence, found out my body had rejected the stent, the stent was 100% plugged and 2 others were 100% blocked,,,, had a triple bypass, got to vist with some of my favorite people,,,,,,and at age 53,, got out and was out at bear camp 8 days after surgery...keep on walking

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    And don't over do it after surgery, if you do,, your sterum might heal crooked..... but,, keep on walking

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    You're one of the lucky ones. Remember, denial is not a river in Egypt. When you have symptoms.....get help now.

    Now that would have been good to know before my first cardiac event. While on a four day predator hunt in Nevada started having problems but waited till I got back Ak only to take a medivac back to Seattle for the plumbing repair. I do annual stress echo tests and my cardiologist lets me know what my max. Heart rate should not exceed. I wear an athletic heart rate cuff when I'm in the woods. For me I don't exceed 145. Well not often. Your body will tell you when to slow down. Listen to it!!

    I have approval from my doc to take an additional dose of med that is meant to slow down the heat rate. Check with yours. Don't do it WO the docs say so.

    Untill they crack ur chest it's just a cardiac event. Tommorrow is promised to no one - that's how I live today. PM if u have any ???? Daryl

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    Yes, very lucky, and the river in egypt doesn't exist in my life, never has..

    I,ve been flown out of the woods, sometimes waiting up to 4 days, 3 times in the 90's with collapsed lung, had it fixed the last time,
    now usually carry a needle & tubing to puncture my chest if it ever happens again., waited for 4 days to get flown off the slope with a cracked skull, yes you can actually see double, couldn't work for 8 months,
    and rode 15 miles with a busted up shoulder to a hunting lodge spring of 99, drove 45 miles the next day on a snowmachine with a unusuable left arm, not fun.

    The folks above are all right, take care of your self with doctors, don't ignore warning signs, keep or get a good cardio exercise routine no matter what your age, eat right and take care of your body. The thing that has helped me the most when I've gotton in very serious 'jams', and looking at the possible end, is my frame of mind, when things have be at their absoulte worse, its always been my sense of humor, or the ability to laugh at myself for getting myself into deadly predictiments, that humor has always made me push myself to the limits to survive.

    AKsigns, none of us have a 'expiration' date stamped on our body, that I know well.

    I've had friends die out in the woods, and pulled one out myself, that just the nature of life.

    Like my Dad always told me growning up, "do what your big enough to do", and keeping on walkng

    Take care.,
    Marty

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    Member AK_Taxidermist's Avatar
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    Many thanks for the experiences and concerns that all of you have provided... I am grateful. I had looked on a few medical website forums for post stent stories and read as many gloom and doom accounts as I did successes. I decided a better place to look would be to those who share the passions and place as me. I may as time permits, send along a message to a few of you. It's really nice to read of similar and even far more dire cardio experiences come to a solid, fulfilling return to the woods for so many.

    425 Express... my hunting buddy (he is on here far more often than I am; 1Cor.15:19) told me that you're from Iliamna. I bet we know a few of the same people: I spent 6 years in Nondalton (elementary teacher) in the 90s. One of my very best friends is Michael Trefon, the health aide at Newhalen.

    Again, thanks to all who have replied. It strengthens my desire and hope moving forward.

    Terry

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