Medical Mumbo Jumbo
By Joan Millman
It began with a so-so pain in my lower left side. That was where I had fractured 5 ribs a few months before. My genius friend didn't concur. "Call your life line," he said.
In minutes the ambulance arrived. A miniature hospital on wheels, it revealed an enzyme in my blood, which indicated I was having a heart attack. A few tiny nitro pills took the pain away. "Yup," the EMT said. "A heart attack."
I had read women experience these attacks differently than men. No chest pain. No ripples in the left arm. Or anywhere. It would require a stent.
The local hospital didn't do stents. These were tiny objects inserted in a wrist to travel through an artery to the ailing heart. On then to world famous Mass. General Hospital. Bon voyage, little stent.
The week of recovery brought eight cardiologists to my side. "Yup," they all agreed. "A heart attack." The little stent had opened constricted vessels and would prevent future trauma,
I was sent home with a stash of nitro if another attack occurred.
Now I have my own cardiologist. He ordered a thorough "work up." He has an unpronounceable Indian last name so I call him by his first, Sanjay. We talk. "You didn't have a heart attack," he said. Huh?
Totally confused, I contact my primary care doc., a geriatrician. "Nobody says heart attach anymore," he says. "I use CAD - coronary artery disease."
How come the esteemed MGH docs don't know that?
Joan Millman is the author of “The Effigy,” winner of the University of Missouri Press’s Breakthrough Award. She is also the co-author of four parent education books and many short stories that have appeared in national literaryjournals.