Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Kevin Smith/Luke Perry Effect

A little over a year ago, director Kevin Smith had a massive heart attack.  Kevin plays to kind of a specific audience of the 420 crowd and those with a proclivity for sailor mouths, count us in the second group.  While his on-screen alter ego, the loveable Silent Bob, is known for being, well, silent; everyone knows Kevin more than makes up for it when letting loose on TV, podcasts, etc.  He's the director that makes any man or woman think they can be a director and you get the feeling he truly believes it.  Kevin was known for getting a little on the pudgy side and played to it by wearing shirts like Fatman riffed off of Batman in that self-deprecating way all of us carrying more weight are familiar with.  The whole 'say what they think before they can say it' that almost always wins you the rep of 'funny fat guy/girl' and everyone loves you.  *raising hand*  He lost weight in recent years by walking his sweet lil old weenie dog Shecky, 80 lbs I think he said which you all know is no small feat.  Kevin has a family history of heart problems, so I'm sure that was motivation to help him get started.  He had his heart attack in between shows, and we just recently got to see that show in his release Silent but Deadly.    It was probably the best gabfest he's done and the most like actual stand up he's done over "story time."  When you watch it knowing what you know about what was going to happen to him an hour later when the show starts, lines he says like "dude, you almost gave me a heart attack" and his closing bit about how you don't have long on this Earth, so go out and do what you're passionate about regardless of your age were a bit surreal.  You can hear a very detailed, NSFW account of all of his symptoms and what they did to him as he had his widowmaker heart attack here.   It's a good listen for the men in your life to be aware of symptoms because of the details he gives, including what saved his life.  It made a significant impact on us because we've always felt like he was our crazy stoner friend that's fun to hang out with from time to time.

Then came Luke Perry less than two weeks ago passed away from a massive stroke.  I'm not going to lie, I was never a 90210 fan even though I was in the demo for that show.  Matter of fact, I loathed that show, and I thought his character was a little too on the nose for me to ever take seriously.  Then we had the opportunity to briefly meet him in 1999, and that man was the sweetest dude ever.  His big smile radiated as he said hello to screaming fans and was genuinely happy to be at the party.  He changed my mind about him, and while I wasn't a fan of Dylan, I became a fan of Luke.  The Mr and I both agree that his death has hit us particularly hard for reasons we can't quite understand.  I shed some tears, and I think a lot of that is just thinking about that brief meeting and how sweet of a guy he was and so gracious.  Then came all of the stories from those who worked with him and how that initial impression was not only correct but went so far beyond that.  You got a sense that a truly gentle soul this effed up world so desperately needs, slipped away.  For signs of stroke and what to know, see this article.

I told you that to tell you how we spent Tuesday night.

The Mr has had a panic attack before, the crushing heart attack kind.  He has also dealt with anxiety showing up as a pit in the stomach feeling where he could breathe through it and be okay.  When he mentioned something about a weird pressure in his chest that he couldn't shake, I asked if we needed to go to Urgent Care because he didn't seem to be in distress to the point of needing a hospital visit.  He said no, and it would probably go away, and it seemed to, or at least he didn't mention it again that night.  Tuesday he said he was sore in his left arm, but we'd done a strength workout, and that feeling was back.  I asked if he was stressed about anything and he said no, he was fine.  He wasn't taking into account the incredibly stressful week he had both at work, and with family BS he had to deal with once he was home.  He said it didn't feel like anxiety the way he usually feels it and said he'd see if it felt better.  He said after he ate, he felt better but didn't care for the pressure in his chest before that. Since I've dealt with a stress disorder for just over 20 years, I know how this works if that is what he's experiencing.  What was once your "go to" signs of stress and anxiety shift to a new to you symptom and the same feelings of pressure in the chest he had, I'd also been experiencing the last month but daily the past 2 weeks.  I knew they were stress related because when I'd do something like listening to a favorite song or exercise, it was completely gone.  I told him to tell me if he wanted to go to the doctor and he said he would.

Around 4pm, I was gleefully doing dishes and be-bopping around the kitchen when he came down and asked me to take him to Urgent Care.  He just didn't like that it wasn't going away and after what happened with Kevin and now Luke, he thought it better to be safe than sorry.  I agreed, and we headed over which is thankfully three minutes from the house.  When they were taking his vitals, his blood pressure was really high, for him.  143/90.  The nurse chalked it up to being nervous and asked him to think about something calming, and I told him to think of Daisy Fuentes.  His BP went down to 122/70.  I said, "see, she worked!"
We all laughed, and he got more info from him.  The doc came in casually asked some questions and then said he was referring him to the emergency room up the street.  This is apparently a new thing where they're building free-standing ER's that aren't attached to hospitals.  (??)  So basically, we totally wasted our time going there.  Duly noted for the future.  The fact they were referring us got him worried they saw something.  I knew from all of the info they had, which were all normal BP, oxygen and resting heart rate levels that they were just referring because they don't deal with that anymore but couldn't dismiss it either.  So if you have a potential cardiac issue, just go to the ER and save yourself the time wasted.

I headed up the street to the ER, and they got him right into a room.  Two nurses came in and slapped on the BP cuff, and the other started hooking up electrodes to run an ECG.  I'll admit, the nose started stinging when that happened, and I had to tell myself to knock it off.  I wasn't worried as I was 98% sure he didn't have a heart attack, but it's that 2% that'll get ya.  His vitals were all excellent.  Oxygen at 97% but even that was probably due to more shallow breathing, BP was the same and resting heart rate of 60.  According to the Mayo Clinic, "a normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness."  So you can see he was a-okay there.  They took him for a chest x-ray, and when he came back, the doctor came in with him.

He was pretty laid back, asked him questions about his symptoms.  He changed his description from pressure like he'd been saying to the 50 people who had asked to pain with the doctor.  He also moved the area he'd previously been pointing to, and you ladies out there will share in my frustration when that vague mansplaining comes into play.  I try not to say anything when we're there for his appointments, but I did clarify and say he'd been describing it as pressure all day which he agreed with.  There is a definite difference between the two in the eyes of the medical profession, and I wanted the doctor to be clear about what he'd been saying for 2 days.  Because he moved his area of discomfort down, the doctor was no longer thinking heart attack but was now thinking ulcer or reflux.  I internally shook my head and banged it against the wall whilst keeping my resting wife face strong.  They drew blood to check for levels that could tell them if he had a heart attack.  The doctor came back in about 15 minutes later and said everything from x-rays to bloodwork looked good.  No heart attack or anything like that.  He thought its reflux and wanted to put him on two meds.  Well, he's had reflux before and knows what that feels like, and in my head, I thought "I know he's not taking those."  I was right, especially after seeing all of the side effects.  He did say he wanted him to schedule a stress test with ECG so that would need to happen within the next 72 hours, so he'll be going today at 1pm.

Despite the nurses being told he's lost over 150 lbs and works out 6 days per week, this info obviously was not relayed to the doctor.  He wasn't at all condescending in that way of "oh yeah, fat man in da house.  Of course, you're having a heart attack" like so many doctors tend to be.  He asked if he thought he could handle the stress test and the Mr's like "yeah."  The doctor paused and said, "because they'll put you on a treadmill and increase it and you'll be on an incline."  He said, "yeah, I know, I've been on the treadmill before."  The doctor smiled in a way that irritated me, and I said, "we exercise 6 days a week.  He's lost 155 lbs, I've lost over 200 lbs.  He can do the stress test."  He smiled real big and said, "alright!  Getting your walk on to get it done!"  The Mr said, "uh, no I do plyometrics and strength training."  I chimed in and said, "he does HIIT."
The doc grinned from ear to ear and suddenly morphed into Shaun T and was like "well, alright!  That's what I'm talking about.  getting it DONE!"  Look, there is absolutely ZERO SHAME in starting where you are to build your fitness and walking is often that for many of us.  However, I am all into busting the stereotype that people who are at or around 300 lbs can't do more than that.  Every single time we go to a new doctor or an appointment like that, it's a new fight to get them to see the whole picture which is more than just I've got a fat couple here."  It's about them seeing that we eat right and exercise 6 days a week and that our workout schedule is challenging even for a conventionally "fit person."

Twenty minutes later, one of the staff came in and said, "the fit people!"  We kind of laughed and she said, "you're the talk of the lobby with your weight loss and exercise routine!"  Well, good!  If it stops one more fluffy person from being instantly judged then it's worth it to spread our stories.  The one nurse who was a little overweight said, "I can't even get off of my butt to do one day of exercise much less six!"  So if nothing else, we schooled about five people on not judging books by their covers.

I am glad he is okay and while I'm sure we'll feel differently when the random bills start rolling in, I'm glad we were on the safe side and checked it out.  We have insurance for a reason and are always griping about our premiums when we never use it for much so knowing we have it available is a blessing I don't take for granted with so many uninsured.  That was literally the first question urgent care asked us when we walked in.  When we left, the Mr. said, "oh, you may be having a heart attack...are you insured?  Are you employed!?"  What would they have done if we said no?

Did you know these are the top five causes of death at publishing according to the CDC?

Heart disease: 635,260
Cancer: 598,038
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 161,374
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 154,596
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 142,142

Get heart smart and always err on the side of caution.

Have you or someone you know had a heart attack or stroke?

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  1. Those heart attack symptoms are just vague enough, in my opinion, that it makes it hard to tell sometimes just how serious a situation is. Just thinking something could be worse than it seems makes me panicky too so it escalates. Obviously I'm thankful it was nothing serious but then it's like you get punished big time for erring on the side of caution when those bills start rolling in and it is for a lot of these reasons why I understand people being hesitant to even go in the first place. But if life is on the line then you shouldn't mess around.

  2. I've had EKG's done and a stress test before my hysterectomy and that was challenge because of so much blood loss and severe anemia. But it all came back fine to be able to have the surgery. Both of my parents had heart attacks and my uncle has had multiple strokes, which runs on both sides of the family I believe. I am so glad to hear that the Mr. is doing better and that all the tests came back good with no evidence of heart damage or concerns at all. Having the stress test done will give him added relief in that regard too. When I was in my mid-20's I had my gallbladder removed and I did not have insurance as I was working through a temp agency and we were not married yet. I ended up paying out of pocket for that and it took me a solid ten years to pay it off.

  3. Generally cancer is the killer in my family, but my grandfather, grandmother and father have all had heart attacks. High cholesterol runs in my family, and both my father and grandmother had heart attacks before the age of 50, so I try to take any symptoms seriously.

    My mother-in-law died of a massive heart attack at 52. She went to sleep after a house party with family and didn't wake up. She had a number of health issues that the doctors were working to resolve, which masked the signs of heart disease.

    And I have had an incident very much like the Mr.'s and I'm very glad that I live in Canada, where going to the hospital, even if I am over reacting, never has to be a financial consideration. On New Year's Eve a few years ago after feeling generally unwell for a few days I developed a discomfort in my chest. My partner forced me to go to the hospital outpatient clinic to get checked out. I think he was sick of hearing me whine about not feeling well. As soon as they heard that I was feeling a discomfort in my chest they brought me directly into a room and started to check me out. Turns out I was severely dehydrated and suffering from heart burn. They gave me some pills to take on a daily basis to help me heal, which did work, and I now take from time to time when symptoms start to crop up but not on a regular basis.

  4. That's really scary. I'm glad it turned out as well as it did. I hear what you're saying about insurance too. *just deleted a whole mini-rant about that*

    Luke Perry was a celebrity crush of mine. I think the fact that he died of natural causes (rather than an overdose, suicide, accident, etc) is what makes it such a hard thing. He wasn't that much older than me and it's scary. It's a reminder of our mortality and that we are getting to "that" age.


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