On Sunday my mortality was reaffirmed, as I suffered what I knew was an agina attack.
I had ridden with the Los Angeles Wheelmen to make the climb to the Hollywood Sign, in the Santa Monica Mountains, high above Los Angeles. At the start of the climb, I began to feel chest pain. Slowing down didn't help, nor did speeding up.
I'd had similar pain a few weeks ago, cycling at about 8600 feet in Yosemite, but it went away after I slowed down. Although I knew I had perhaps a 70% blockage in a coronary artery, I had not, in the eight months since a mild heart attack, felt any chest pain. So I put the pain off on the effects of my age - 61 - and the altitude, and not on my heart.
Last week, mentioning this pain at my 6 month checkup, my cardiologist said he thought I might have had an angina attack and advised me to head to the hospital if I felt the pain again.
So, as I made my way up toward the Hollywood Sign, unable to shake the pain, I bummed a nitroglycerine tablet off someone in the group. The near instantaneous end of my chest pain told me I was indeed suffering from angina. (I probably shouldn't admit I finished the climb.)
After I returned home, feeling fine, I headed for the hospital. By Monday evening I was in recovery after two stents opened up blockage, estimated at 80%+, in my left coronary artery. It's just after midnight, on Thursday, and I feel as if I never had the angioplasty.
My doctor was right, and my own assessment of my chest pain was completely skewed by what I wanted to believe - that I didn't have a heart problem. We can certainly blind ourselves to the truth.
I'm glad I made that visit to the emergency room, and in the future I'll try to listen better to what my body is telling me. (I threw up some pics of the ride and my hospital visit here.) And I can hardly wait, with such better flow of blood to my heart, to learn what my next ride up to the Hollywood Sign is going to be like.