Hi folks, from lovely Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey! My son brought a laptop to the hospital last night and got me set up to be online. Tomorrow, Doctors will crack open my chest for cardiac bypass surgery, and I wanted to be able to say a few words before that happens.
Last Friday I had a life. On Saturday, that changed.
I was heading to a local supermarket to pick up milk, half & half, and a couple other little things. It was a typical day. No big deal.
I get in the car, pull out of the garage and turn right on my street like I have thousands of times before in the 28 years I've lived there.
About 1/4 mile down the street, I travel under the Rt 495 overpass and turn right onto Liberty Ave and POW. Sudden heaviness in the center of my chest. It didn't "hurt" it was just there. A weird feeling like someone was standing on my chest.
I thought "What the hell is this?" I keep driving, stop at the traffic light at Union Turnpike waiting to turn right and POW, I get this tightening in my neck and jaw. WTF????
The light changes, I go up Union turnpike, the tightness in my neck goes away but I still have the heaviness in my chest. I get up to Kennedy Blvd, hang a right and pull into the Columbia Park Shopping Center, and head toward the supermarket. As I'm parking, I lost ALL strength in my arms. They felt like they had suddenly become lead. It was an effort to even turn the steering wheel.
Now, I was an EMT on a Heavy Rescue Unit for 7 years. I know all the signs of a heart attack and in the back of my head, I said to myself "This is a heart attack" . . . . After which I promptly thought "Nahhhhhh. That can't happen to me."
So I decide to sit quietly a few moments. Then I decide maybe I should get out of the car and get some fresh air. Yea, that'll do it . . . .
I open the car door and get out, and damn near fall flat on my face. Weakness. My whole body. I had to grab a nearby shopping cart and hang onto to it to stand up.
I'm standing out in the cool air, and I break out into a sweat. It was like someone hit me with a garden hose; the sweat started POURING out of me. At that moment I knew. I said, Oh shit, this is really a heart attack.
So I think, let me get back in the car and just go home.
I get back in, and I realize I'm feeling light headed and I might pass out. Well, I can't drive, I better get help.
I grabbed my cellphone and called North Bergen PD. A young guy Dispatcher answers and very calmly I say "My name is Harold Turner and I think I'm having a heart attack." It was so calm that I think I took the guy by surprise. He said "What?" So I repeated it. He said OK where are you and I told him.
He was great. Told me to hang on a sec and within a moment, he told me, we're on the way, they'll be there really soon. He stayed with me on the phone.
I could hear the sirens coming down Kennedy Boulevard. I knew they were for me. That's a weird feeling.
The Ambulance pulls into the lot and I get out of the car to try to flag them down, but I could barely stand up and damn sure couldn't wave my arms in the air -- I was that weak. Thankfully, the Ambulance guys saw me and came right over.
They asked what was up, and by that time I must have looked pretty bad because they grabbed the stretcher wheeled it over, I got on it, the buckled me on it, loaded me in the back of the rig and off we went, red lights and siren to Christ Hospital.
Here in New Jersey, we also have Paramedics. They're based at local hospitals and they get dispatched along with a local ambulance when the situation calls for it. The Medic Unit was at 18th and Palisade Avenue when North Bergen EMS took off with me from 31st & Kennedy.
I was conscious and breathing so we had a choice: Meet up with the medic unit, pull over and let them work me up, or tear ass to the hospital which was only maybe 3/4 a mile down Palisade Avenue from where the Medic Unit was. I told the EMS guys, just go to the hospital. They agreed and canceled the medics.
We pull into Christ Hospital and they take me out, wheel me into the ER which, thankfully, was not too busy. Turns out the Police Department called the hospital and told them we were coming. They were asking "Is this Harold Turner with the heart attack?"
They were great. Oxygen, and EKG, a chest X-ray via a portable machine, all within the first couple minutes.
My EKG showed "Left Axial Deviation. Left Anterior Infarction of Unknown Age. Normal Sinus Rhythm." That meant the trouble with my heart was NOT electrical. No V-Fib. No A-fib. This was bad, this was an "MI" (Myocardial Infarction)
Something was blocking blood flow to a part of my heart, and that part of my heart was starving for oxygen. In an effort to get my heart more blood flow, my body increased my blood pressure . . . to 210 over 110. WOW! I never had high blood pressure. Never. Yet here I was with 210 over 110.
Docs gave me meds right away. Nitroglycerin to relax my blood vessels, Plavix to deal with any clotting, and Heparin to thin my blood.
Somewhere in this tumult, the heaviness in my chest became actual PAIN. Docs gave me 2 mg of Morphine.
Whatever other meds they gave me, my BP started coming lower, the pain subsided, the sweating stopped and my strength returned.
I was admitted. They drew a slew of blood and did a whole bunch of tests. One test looks for an enzyme which is given off when cardiac cells are damaged or die. I already showed a slight level of that enzyme.
Around 10:00 that night, the whole shit show STARTED ALL OVER AGAIN! Heaviness in the chest, sweating, weakness. Docs swarmed around me and after more nitro and establishing an IV of nitro, I came out of this new bout of MI.
The next Day was Easter and since I was stable, it was hurry-up and wait.
Monday morning they took me in for a Cardiac Catheterization. They did mine via my right arm, entering on the underside of my wrist. The test showed 80-85% blockage of my Left Anterior Descending heart artery and a 90-95% Blockage of my Left Circumflex artery. The blockages were large and long. Stents would not be an option. I needed Bypass surgery, which Christ Hospital does not perform.
I was transferred by ambulance to Englewood Hospital on Monday and have been here a couple days. WOW. What a hospital this is. Amazing staff. Stunning equipment.
They Have to STOP MY HEARTBEAT to Fix me
The Surgeon has been in to see me three times so far. The Cardiologist who will assist him has been in to see me twice. The Cardiac Surgical Nurses have been in to see me again and again and again.
They have given me very specific details about what they will do, why, and what to expect.
This is going to be a rough ride for a few days.
Step 1, anesthesia. They will knock me out and insert a Respirator tube down my throat to control my breathing.
They have to cut my chest open (Scalpel) and cut the center of the rib cage (Sternum) with a rotary bone saw to get access to my heart.
They will then somehow install a blood pump to circulate my blood through my body and through my heart during the surgery. Once that blood pump is in, they will stop my heart from beating - presumably using some chemical to do that.
It has to be this way because they cannot work on a heart that keeps moving while they're trying to work on it.
Once my heartbeat stops, they will then be able to commence work.
They'll take snippets of veins from my legs and sew them onto/into my heart where the clogged arteries are. These veins will then serve as ADDITIONAL arteries to carry fresh blood to my heart muscle once it is re-started. The old (clogged) arteries will remain in place and active - for whatever they're worth.
When the veins are sewn in place my heart will be re-started. Hopefully.
Less than one percent of guys die on the table during this operation, but is IS possible that I could die.
Doc says my heart muscle is strong . . . it's just clogged. He says I'm an excellent candidate for this surgery and I should be fine.
We'll know tomorrow.
According to the Cardiac Surgical Nurses, when a guy gets this surgery, his body treats it as a massive traumatic injury. The body invokes swelling because it thinks it is so terribly injured . . . and this swelling will cause me to retain up to twenty pounds worth of water weight over the next three to four days ! ! ! ! ! ! !
I'll blow up like a fucking water balloon.
They address this via a medicine called Lasix.
After a week or two, the swelling will go away and I should get back to normal.
Guys lungs have a tendency to be lazy to re-start after this surgery. They fill with phlegm and because it hurts to cough, breathing may be compromised. They will use pain meds to alleviate the pain when coughing, to allow me to cough and clear my lungs. They gave me this little breathing exercise gizmo to use to force my lungs to get back into the swing of things and start working correctly again. They want me to use this thing TEN TIMES AN HOUR
One of the things they will also install in my heart are PaceMaker wires. Sometimes, (not always) hearts need a little help to beat regularly when they re-start. So it is protocol to install pacemaker wires just in case. Not to be dramatic, but I guess I'll have Frankenstein wires coming out of my chest.
After a week or two, if things go well, I'll come in to have those pulled out. Just pliers or Forceps and a quick pull and they'll be out.
They will take me down to the O.R. around 6:00 AM eastern US time Thursday (tomorrow) and the surgery is expected to take 6 hours.
If, by chance, something goes wrong and I don't make it, I want you to know what an honor it has been that YOU allowed me to be part of your life. It has been a gift from God for me to be able to be a radio host and a Journalist.
It has not been easy -- especially when freedom of the press and freedom of speech got thrown out the window by the Obama regime who threw me in prison for 33 months over an Editorial they didn't like. Although not easy, it has been the joy of my life to do what I've done for so many years.
It is made all that much better knowing I never sold myself for corporate interests. This web site and radio show has ALWAYS been listener/reader supported. I exist because YOU find value to what I report and talk about. THAT is an honor beyond words.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of your life and Thank You all for being part of my life.
Whatever happens tomorrow, may the peace of our God and his son Jesus, the Christ, be with you always.