Are Leg Pains the Sign of a Heart Attack?

Are Leg pains the sign of a heart attack?

In August 2006 a relative of mine had severe leg cramps that kept reoccurring night after night.  He wishes to remain anonymous, so I will call him JR.  They reminded him of the growing pains he used to have as a child, but these pains were much more severe.  Their daughter suggested a heart attack.  The question is: Are leg pains the sign of a heart attack?

Why was JR having Pain? Click HERE 

JR’s son  is a general practicing physician and also wishes to be anonymous  I’ll call him “Dr. Son.”  JR’s wife asked Dr. Son what it might be and he suggested a calcium deficiency and he said to eat a big baked potato smothered in butter. sour cream and cheddar cheese.  They took his advice but the leg pains continued.

It was always at night the pain came

His foot would be so misshapen or distorted as if the foot muscles were being shrunk up into his ankle, causing the foot to turn on its side. He would get out of bed to try and walk off the leg cramp.

When they visited their general practitioner they asked him about JR’s leg pains.  Again their doctor thought it was a calcium deficiency.  What else could it be?

One day in Feb of 07 JR had a harrowing day at work and that night he got the “mother of all leg cramps”.  He got up and went into the family room to sit in his recliner.  His wife, Mia (assumed name) got up to sit with him.

As JR sat there, another cramp came and he tried to nurse it to get it to go away, but it didn’t leave,  He got up again, thinking he could “walk it out.”

This time he became paralyzed in pain.  He couldn’t move his leg but had attempted to walk, which threw him off balance and he fell head-first into his recliner.  Tears were streaming down his face unless they were “great drops of sweat.”

The episode passed and JR and his wife went back to bed.  A couple of days later, Mia was talking to their Dr. son and she mentioned the incident to him.  He said: “let me talk to him.  Put Dad on the phone right now!”  JR was still in bed and Mia called in to him to pick up the phone, but JR said he couldn’t talk.

Mia assumed JR was in the bathroom, away from the phone.  Dr. Son said, “Well if he has another attack like this, you call 911 and you get him to the ER STAT.  That’s the only way you will know what is happening or going on.”

It wasn’t until the next morning that JR  told Mia he was in the middle of another attack when Dr. Son had wanted to talk to him the night before.

Their daughter mentioned her father-in-law had had a heart attack and the pain was in his leg.  That was enough for Mia.  She decided JR needed to see the doctor.  In trying to set up an appointment, they were unable to get one for 4 more days

JR’s appointment was with their regular doctor.  They visited him that next Monday.  The doctor found nothing to be concerned about. As Mia and JR were getting ready to leave what felt like empty-handed, the doctor popped back in and said, “I think I’ll get an EKG before you leave, just to make sure it’s not your heart.”

What is a “Left Bundle Branch Block”?

Well that EKG showed JR had a “Left Bundle Branch Block”.

The doctor was concerned and said JR needed to see a specialist.  The doctor didn’t set up an appointment for them, however, and it was another month before they could get in to see the Cardiologist, I’ll call him Dr. C for Cardiologist.  Dr C wasn’t specifically concerned but set up an Angiogram to be done in a week.

A week later, JR drove the car 45 minutes to the Angiogram appointment. Then he pushed Mia (wife) in a wheelchair from the parking lot up 3 stories in the elevator, and then down a long winding hallway.  They went too far and had to turn back again.  He was huffing and puffing so much that Mia asked him if maybe he should be in the wheelchair and she should push him?  But JR, being the man that he is, said “No. I’m fine”

Before they left home for JR’s appointment, Mia had the thought that JR should take some overnight clothes, just in case he had to stay over in the hospital.  But the thought was dismissed and they left without anything for an overnight stay.

Mia waited in the waiting room while JR was having the Angiogram procedure. When the doctor came to get her, saying “come with me,” she didn’t know what to expect but went with him into the room where the procedure was performed.   Dr. C wanted her to look at JR’s heart on a leg angiogram procedure video.  She couldn’t see it, so he pointed at the screen with a pointer.  “Look – at his heart.  See how it is pumping?”  Mia still didn’t see anything and said, “where?”

7% Ejection Factor

The doctor had to point it out to her and then took his hand and opened it up with all fingers extended and then closed his hand into a fist a couple of times saying: “THIS is how the heart is supposed to be pumping.”

Then holding his hand open again and barely moving it he said: “this is how JR’s heart  IS pumping.”  The Cardiologist also pointed out a 70% occlusion at a Junction point, which made a stent impossible, and open heart surgery necessary. 

However, if they tried to do surgery now, JR would die on the operating table because his heart had nothing to give at that point.  He would have to regain some strength back to about 55%- ejection factor before surgery could be performed.

The doctor informed Mia that JR was going to have an Echocardiogram and then would go straight to ICU.  Since the Cardiology dept was on a wing of the hospital, it was a quick trip to ICU.  Mia then went downstairs to have JR admitted to the hospital.

Little did Mia know that the doctor expected that JR would take one more breath and it would be his last. No one lives, with a 7 % ejection factor, with the exception of JR it seems.

Dr. Son flew in from  the west coast and mentioned his Superior had said: “how can your dad even be alive with a  7%  ejection factor?”

All of their children came home, expecting to attend a funeral.  JR had been attempting to do the finish carpentry work on their new home with a heart that was barely functioning.  No wonder it was taking him so long to finish their house.  They couldn’t move in until it was finished and approval was given by the city, so their children all pitched in and finished their parent’s new home while their dad lay in the hospital bed  40 miles away.

“Many hands make light work”

The term “many hands make light work” was never truer. After 3 days in the hospital, JR said “ well, you probably need this bed for someone else, and I might as well go home to die.  If that’s what you  are waiting for, it ain’t happenin’.”

So home they went, and the children continued to do the finished carpentry and painting on their new home so their parents could move in.

Thankfully there was no funeral and with the modern medications of a decade ago, after a month JR’s heart had increased in strength and had a count of 30% ejection factor.  Then by August, the ejection factor had risen to 55% and open-heart surgery was finally an option.

Eight years later

Eight years later JR’s heart started to slow back down to 20% ejection factor, which is when  Hospice is usually brought in.  JR got a pacemaker at this time, at 20% and they learned that his original pain in his leg was probably HIS heart attack. (Learn more HERE)

He had had an earlier heart attack! That’s another story for another article.  I’ll put the link in when I  get it written.  Suffice it to say. JR is still living with his heart pumping at a 28% ejection factor.  He tires very easily, has lost a lot of muscle, and keeps himself busy “puttering” around the house.

Sometimes heart attacks don’t show up as textbook maladies.  You should learn what the warning signs are for heart attack or stroke if you don’t know.  Knowing them could mean the difference between life and death for you or a loved one.

Read about the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke,  HERE.

Thank you for reading this and leaving your comments.

DISCLAIMER: I remind you that I am not a medical professional.  I am not saying that you will have the same results as I write about.  Nothing I have said should be misconstrued to mean I give any advice. Should you have unresolved pain or other problems you should always contact your doctor for professional care.

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Writing a Hymn – Good for the Soul Music

Writing a Hymn Good gor the soul

 

Sometimes we need to step back and do something we love just for our mental or emotional health.  That’s what I did for a week in June of 2019.    I call it – “Good for the Soul Music.”

Writing My Hymn For Submission to the Hymnbook

When I was at BYU studying Music, my MusicTheory Professor told us we had a chance to submit a hymn and possibly be published in the new hymnbook that was coming out in a couple of years.  That was 1962 and I didn’t have any idea of how to write a hymn then, so I didn’t even try.  I had written a tune for our dorm to sing in a BYU competition but we didn’t win so my confidence wasn’t at it’s best.

I have learned a lot about composing music over the last 5 decades.  I have taught my piano students how to write their own music, and many of them compose music as adults today.

How to Write Music

To write music easier, some software programs like Finale/Phenole have been created that will print the music as you play it.  It is not super easy to use the program, but once you learn how, it sure takes the work out of writing all the notes and it really looks professional too.

My first music composing software was called “Finale” for my old Mac computer (1984)  I arranged a lot of music with that electronic music program. and then we bought an IBM type computer.  The Finale music program did not transfer to our new computer system.

Creating music without music composing software was never the same after that.  The windows format just isn’t an Apple computer.
I have since learned of some music composing software that is for the Windows computer, but I knew there would be a learning curve that I didn’t have time for at this moment.

I had created a MUSIC Bingo game on that old Macintosh, and I still use that MUSIC game today for my piano students..

Fast Forward To Today-2019

Nearly 60 years later, who knew that I would get a second chance at writing a hymn for another new hymnbook?  But without my   Finale music program, it would be hard!

Stepping back a bit, it had always been my intention to write a hymn for a new hymnbook, if they ever published another one in my lifetime.   So it was on my mind when the new hymnbook was announced.

Finding My Lyrics

My confidence was lacking in writing my own lyrics so I went to the scriptures looking for words I could put to music.  I had sung  “Elijah”  at BYU with the Oratorio Choir so I looked for some of those words.

The words were not all neatly typed for the composer, Mendelssohn.  He had to take a little from one verse of the Bible, and a little from another verse to ultimately write the lyrics.  They were pure inspiration.  Then he wrote the music for the words.

In the scriptures, I found a few things that I thought I might use for lyrics, but no inspiration for a tune was there.  Maybe I was putting the “cart before the horse.”

composing-music
composing-music

Writing the Tune

Then about a year ago in 2018, I  received a poem written by my husband’s great grandfather, Richard Godfrey, and I thought, “Oh, maybe this would make a good hymn? ”  But alas, It didn’t have words for today’s generation so I abandoned his poem, but not before I had a tune come into my mind for it.

I was in the car at the time, and I was reading Richard Godfrey’s poem when this tune came into my mind.   I only had my phone handy, so I hummed the tune in “video record mode” and got the tune preserved.

This was the start of my hymn.  I never even put it down on paper at that time.

Then one day a little later we were told that a new hymnbook would be printed later and we could submit our own hymns if we wanted to possibly have them included in the book.

For months  I had that tune running around in my head with more words matching the tune.  I would get up and put those words into a file on my phone labeled “my hymn”.  So I had 15 to 20 different phrases that matched the rhythm of the tune.

A Call to Action

It was late Sunday the 23rd of June, when my sister called telling me she had just heard that the deadline for our hymn submission was  July 1., 2019.   “You’ve got to enter your hymn.”  Oh, it’s too late I reasoned.  But she challenged me to DO It.  That meant I only had 1 week to write everything.  Could I do it?

First I had to transfer all my lyrics to my computer and then transcribe the tune onto the music staff.    And after the tune was written, then I had to make it into a chorale , or in other words in “hymn style.”  That was going to be a lot of work.

Here’s How It Happened

Elaine called June 23 and told me the submission day was July 1st  so that meant I only had one week to complete everything and submit it.  As I said, I had only the tune recorded on my phone and a number of phrases for the words.
I had two of my daughters and my sister and of course my husband review and give me comments and suggestions, but this tune is solely mine and the words came to me in the still of the night.

The tune played in my head

The tune was playing in my head almost constantly for a while this spring. In the night words would pop into my mind and I captured them on my phone-notes whenever that happened.
I then had to organize them into an order that made sense and I tried to rhyme the words. That was possibly the hardest thing to do.
I had the tune but then I had to write the chords and parts. After 3 days that came together.  I considered trying to find someone with the Phenole music writing program for windows.  But then I realized it would have a learning curve, and I didn’t have time to spend learning something new, so  I asked one of my creative  grandsons if he would come to script it for me so that it was legible.  Gratefully he did it in only 3-4 hours.

Only 3 Days Left

Then, when it came time to put on the pressure to complete this by July 1st, I had just 3 days left to complete it. Everything seemed against me. I had emailed the words to my sister, and then the words had disappeared from my notes on my phone.
I found them in the delete file, but then that very day, I never touched anything I swear, but my lyrics file was deleted right before my eyes. Gone forever. What was I to do?
Try as I might, I couldn’t remember very many phrases.  It was like Bam!  Remember this NOW! Whaat?
I could not remember.

All Was Not Lost

Then I remembered sharing them by email with my sister just the night before and I retrieved them from that sent email. Whew!

I tried to find the files I’d saved on my computer concerning this hymn.  I had a hard time keeping track of where they were on the computer. Sometimes, it was as if someone didn’t want me to find them.  It smelled of a conspiracy!  Funny how the mind can conjure up all kinds of reasons why the challenges are there.
In order to submit my hymn, I was required to create a profile page but I couldn’t find where to do my profile.  I searched and searched but could not find it.  Then, Friday, after praying desperately about it, the “create profile” page appeared on my computer screen when I entered the “submit your hymn” area almost miraculously.  That was awesome!  I was definitely guided every step of the way.
My grandson had taken pictures of my song and then stored them on my computer.  I had written the Title and Copyright info on it and saved it to a file.
1.  I had to convert everything to a PDF file,
2. Submit the hymn with my name and copyright,
3.  Submit the lyrics with my name and copyright
4.  Submit both hymn & lyrics without my name & copyright information. too 
I believe the reason the wanted a copy without the composer or author’s name on the submission form is so that when the Music Committee votes on which songs to put in the Hymnbook, they won’t be swayed by the name of the person submitting it.  Some people are famous and people might be swayed by the name alone.
When it came time to submit, I had done everything required but was unable to find the files where everything was stored anywhere.  I again prayed for help.
All I could think of was to call my grandson.   I figured he would know how to find the files.  As it turned out, he had taken a number of computer classes in high school and graduated from a college computer course in Windows Operating System (which I didn’t realize) 

There were less than 4 hours left

It was 8 pm and time was running short; I had less than 4 hours left so I called up my wonderful 17 year old teenage grandson again, and of course, he dropped what he was doing and came right over.  I kid you not.  He really did!!
To make a long story shorter, I had done a number of things that were unnecessary and he undid those and simply found my hiding files and entered them ready for submission.  I had done everything I needed to but simply couldn’t find where they were on the computer.  They were hiding right in front of me in my open files.
NOTE: If files are open, you can’t find them in your folders.  I prayed and prayed to be able to find them, but all I could think of was “call Brandon,”  and he knew exactly what to do.  In a little more than 45 minutes, he had me ready to submit.  But he made ME push the “submit” button.  After you push submit you can’t edit anymore.
After much trepidation, I pushed “submit”  but the submission form asked again “Are you sure you are ready to submit?”  Ultimately I finally pushed the button, thanking my dear grandson Brandon over and over again.   I never fail to be amazed at how it all came together.

Recap

It turned out that writing my hymn was good for my health, whether it is emotional or mental, call it what you may.  I had committed to writing a song with words to submit in less than a week’s time.  Mission accomplished – I did it!!  That was good for my psyche, for my soul.
I learned that with a lot of help from the Lord above and from some family members reviewing and commenting, I submitted it about 8:45 pm, June 30th, 2019.  It was three hours under the July 1st deadline.
We can do anything we set our minds to, we just have to ask for help.  If we don’t understand things then asking questions from Siri or Cortana, Google or our Heavenly Father usually will bring an answer.
Sometimes we get into things we don’t fully understand as I found several times.  When that happens we need to swallow our pride and admit that we need help.  I knew I needed help but thought it would miraculously appear, just like had happened before.  But It didn’t.  All that I could think of was to call Brandon. Sometimes prayers are answered through other people.
The moral of this story is, when you are in “over your head” don’t be afraid to ask for help, and when all else fails, get some help from an expert.  That expert may just be your 17-year-old grandson.
Thank you for reading about my experience.  It has been good for me to relay this unfolding saga.  Please leave your comments below.
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