I spend my life negotiating outcomes for the labor unions that I represent. I’ve been doing it for 25 years and never once did I stop to think that by not paying more attention to my health that maybe I was negotiating with my own life. When I was 50 years old, I had a heart attack that nearly killed me. I knew then that I had to make some big changes in my life or else I may not be so lucky in the future. I immediately went on a statin to get my cholesterol down and started to set up a plan of attack for dealing with my health.
Right around the time I was starting to get used to what had become my new life, my world was turned upside down yet again. My wife of 21 years and I got divorced and I found myself facing the two biggest challenges of my life all alone. Angry and confused, I stopped taking my statin, though I kept working out when I could because it took my mind off things.
I twisted my knee playing golf and when it didn’t get better, I actually started to have trouble walking. I went into see my doctor and talk about it. When I was there we went over the pain in my knee, which was a simple ligament strain he said, but he was more concerned about how I was feeling otherwise.
I told him the truth: I was still having chest pains, but I was also starting to feel very tired, so much so that I had to cut my golf game back from eighteen holes to nine and that even 30 minutes on the exercise bike wiped me out. I also told him that I was really feeling stressed out from work and being alone.
My doctor told me that he was very worried about my complaints of fatigue. The fact I had stopped taking the statin was also real reason for concern. He gave me some stress management tips to help defuse my daily work-related tensions, and he really wanted me to restart my statin therapy.
I had serious problem with becoming “drug dependent,” and I told my doctor that I would only take the statins if I knew that there was no other option.
After some discussion, in which he explained the important role played bythe endothelium and how endothelial dysfunction is a reliable indicator of impending heart problems, I readily agreed to have an EndoPAT® test that day. I needed to know where I stood and my doctor assured me that an EndoPAT®test would let me know just that.
A Second Chance
After the test, which only took about 20 minutes, we sat down in his office and reviewed my EndoScore. I was very upset to find out that my low EndoScore of 1.52 foreshadowed another, perhaps more devastating heart attack. He told me that, “With an EndoScore this low and your symptoms so pronounced, you should see a cardiologist very soon.”
One week later, I was admitted to NYU Medical Center and underwent a successful coronary bypass procedure.
When I got home from the hospital, I finally knew that I had to get realistic about my health. I was sicker than I let on when I first took the EndoPAT® test and it turned out I was very close to having a second heart attack.
If I hadn’t taken that EndoPAT® test, I would have just kept fooling myself and avoided the issue. But now that I’ve been given a second chance at life, I intend to take full advantage of it and change my ways for the better.