Potkin Azarmehrís Triple Bypass Diary Part 1
Please click here for the background to this story.
Welcome to the first instalment of Potkin's Diary covering 3rd September, when he first noticed a problem, to the day of his operation on the 7th. Part 2, covering his immediate post-op recovery, is here.
3rd September 2015
Had a stressful day at work.
Commute home took 2.5 hours.
After I came home, I had a dinner appointment with someone. I donít normally have an evening meal and the meal just didnít seem to agree with me.
Came home, checked a few more emails which stressed me further, then I started noticing these chest pains that I had never experienced before. At first I thought it was just anxiety or panic.
I tried to meditate and relax but the pain wouldnít go away. Measured my blood pressure, 180 over 110!! I had never had such high blood pressure before in my life. The blood pressure reading made me panic even more.
Went to bed to sleep, thinking it will be better in the morning.
The pain was slightly less in the morning but it hadn't completely gone, it had just moved around.
Went to GP in the morning, but they didnít have an appointment for me until 10.45.
Went and did some banking which involved some walking. I was able to do everything but the pain was there too.
Came back home and went to GP again.
The GP was visibly worried after hearing about my symptoms. Gave me an Aspirin and called an ambulance.
They took my ECG in the ambulance. It seemed ok. My blood sugar level was ok too and my blood pressure had come down. I was beginning to think it was just panic/anxiety and the nightmare will soon end.
In the hospital they took two further ECGs, both were ok. X-Ray was ok and echo showed the heart was working ok.
I was now pretty confident that it was just panic/anxiety although the pain was now more severe and concentrated right in the middle of my chest. The first bad news was the result of the blood test. It showed one enzyme was high up, which they interpreted as a heart attack.
I was taken to Royal Free hospital for an angio. It took ages for an ambulance transfer to be organised. I was high on morphin, which didnít seem to do me any good at all.
Finally I was taken to Royal Free. There was another arrival with me, which the hospital deemed more urgent. Funnily it made me feel slightly better that there was someone worse than me!
I waited until it was my turn. By this stage I was still confident that it couldn't be anything serious. After all, I was fit, healthy and strong.
When the angio was finished my pain went away. The Doctor had bad news however. He thought I suffered from a genetic narrowing of arteries and needed a triple heart bypass surgery!
I almost shouted profanities at him. I wanted to tell him ďdo you know how strong I am? Come with me to the gym and see how much I can lift, how much I can run, I do boxing, I do martial arts, what on earth are you talking about a bypass surgery?Ē
4th September 2015
I woke up in the Royal Free, wired up to these monitors but had no pain. Felt as good as ever. Thought it had all been a nightmare.
The consultant came to see me. He confirmed the bypass diagnosis. He said he had shown my angio diagrams in a meeting of 20 doctors and all had unanimously confirmed that I needed a bypass.
He discussed the possible dates for the op, 7-10 days wait and also the list of hospitals where I could have the op. I told him I had private health insurance. He told me to check with the insurance and get authorisation.
I called the insurance, they confirmed that I was covered and gave me an authorisation code. I asked them to text it to me, as I was all wired up and had no pen and paper at hand. I then passed their text message with the authorisation number and contact tel/name to the hospital.
Consultant came back with a list of three hospitals for me to choose from. I chose Wellington hospital as it would have been more convenient for the family.
5th September 2015
The surgeon who is going to operate on me came to see me. I told him I had had a pretty good life and done most of the things I wanted to do in life and I was not prepared to live just for the sake of living and be a burden to everyone else. I told him I did not want to live just to be a shadow of my former self. He looked at me and said I would be able to do everything I did before, including lift weights, and that I will feel 10 years younger. With that said, I felt more at ease about going ahead with the operation.
I asked my family and friends to search the internet for other athletes who had the same operation and how they carried on after the op.
6th September 2015
Huge confusion about my ambulance transfer to Wellington hospital delayed my transfer, but I was finally strapped up and put in an NHS ambulance to be taken to Wellington. I am not a spiritual person at all and have no religious beliefs, but something strange happened in the ambulance. A white 4x4 car followed my ambulance most of the way with the private number plate 8A8A. I used to call my dad, BABA and I suddenly felt it was dad's way of saying don't worry son, I am behind you. Had to fight hard to stop the tears from rolling.
Finally got to Wellington. Family and friend came to see me, including my younger children, boy of 7 and girl of 3, who had not seen me since I was taken to hospital. I was in good spirits. My surgeon came too, said the operation was to be the next day at 6.30 pm.
7th September 2015
A girl in charge of Wellington hospital accounts came to take my insurance details. I gave her the same text message information I had given Royal Free, i.e. the authorisation code, my membership number and their contact tel/name.
Then the shock came! My insurance were saying that Wellington hospital is not one of their listed hospitals! Absolute bullshit! They clearly have it listed on their website. I had to call my insurance from my hospital bed, it took me ages to get through as usual. Finally I was connected to someone called Jackie. I explained to her that they had confirmed I was covered, they had given me an authorisation code and I had passed that to the hospital and I was then given a list of three hospitals which included Wellington. Her excuse was they had sent me an email with a list of hospitals to choose from. I was furious, there I was connected to monitors in hospital and they expected me to check my emails?! Why did they not tell the hospital? The insurance girl was nonchalant about it and said "It seems this is one of those situations where no one is at fault but you are the unfortunate victim"!
I was 5 hours away from my operation and I had to deal with this! I thought another heart attack was on its way and if so this time the insurance should be prosecuted for attempted murder or manslaughter!I was in no mood to change my hospital or operation date and surgeon, I had prepared myself mentally for all this.
I asked the insurance how much they were prepared to pay? I told the hospital accounts the figure, the hospital were happy with that payment! There seemed to be no need for all that nonsense after all! I slammed the phone on the insurance girl, thanked the hospital and once again breathed a sigh of relief and tried to prepare myself mentally for the operation and the post operation.
Two hours later an unsaved number rang my mobile again. It was the same insurance girl again! What on earth did she want again? "Hi, its Jackie again, just wanted to make sure you realise if there are any complications and extra costs after the operation, you will have to foot the difference yourself, you realise that, don't you?Ē I could not believe they were doing this to me! "Go away! do not call me again! I will deal with you after, when I am betterĒ
After that call, I also got a series of calls from life insurance and will writing companies. I wonder who had given them my number for a few back handers in return?! Nudge, Nudge, wink, wink, Could it have been the insurance company?
Finally the hour drew closer. The surgeon came with the consent form and the anaesthetist came to see me too. I had a final word with my family, telling them my only wish was that I leave before me a strong family and they all looked after each other.