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Why I got a 2nd Opinion When Offered a Bypass

...and how I got to walking pain-free after only wires, balloons, and stents.

· Patient Stories

Two years ago I had a Heart Attack and Triple Bypass. A wake up call.  I am a former Marine and never thought this could happen to me even as it runs in my family. Both my younger brother and Father had heart attacks.  It killed my brother.  I also smoked for 30+ years and loved my Beef Sandwiches, Fries, Pizza, and other tasty bad for you food. 

After the Heart Attack I woke up and decided to get back in shape.  I lost 40 pounds.  I went to Cardio Rehab P2 and P3 until Covid stopped it. I then set out on my own program of Walking 3-6 miles a day at a fast face, free weights, circuit hitting the heavy bag. I eat healthy. Hardly any meat and most green vegetables.  

I was doing great for 1 1/2 years after the Heart Attack. One day,  November, 2020 I went out to walk.  After 2 blocks I was stopped dead in my tracks. Like my left calf was hit but a large caliber bullet.  I managed to limp slowly home.  

Thought I pulled a muscle.  

Next day, same thing. 

Next week same thing. 

Called my Cardiologist.  He said it could be the Statin and to stop it for 3 weeks and let him know.  I did. After 3 weeks same  fierce pain. He then said ok it’s not the Statin.  I said ok Doc, what do we do. Something is wrong. He said see you at your next visit.  

Now I am thinking it is muscular.  I went and saw my old Orthopedic Surgeon.  He is old school and 79 years old. He asked questions. Felt the muscle.  He then said let’s do a pulse Test. He did using his hands. Took him a minute. He said your pulse is very weak. He then said I need Arterial and Vein legs test. 

Called the Cardiologist and told him. He said well if you want I can order a few tests.  If I want?  

"Hell yes!."  

He did.  

The results were plaque in several spots including the left Iliac.  He then ordered a CT abdomen scan. 

That confirmed a totally blocked left iliac. 

He referred me to a Vascular Surgeon and sent the scan results to him. 

In walks the Doctor. 

Firt words out of his mouth were “Fem-Fem Bypass”. 

Ok, what’s that?  

He said, "We can discuss after a leg stress test." 

Did the test. Went back in 2 weeks. He explained the invasive procedure.  

I asked for a less invasive procedure. 

He just said, "No, too risky."  I have to have the bypass. 

I said, "What happens if you do the procedure and the other iliac blocks and then there's no blood to either leg."  

Why did I ask that? 

A fem-fem bypass takes blood from one leg and shares it with the other leg via a graft attached from one leg to another. And I've learned there are few options to save my legs if that fem-fem bypass fails.

His reponse? He said, "Now that’s a good question." But, didn’t answer me.  

I got up. 

I thanked him for his time. 

As I walked out, I simply said, "Doctor, you are fired."  

I then called my Cardiologist, filled him in, and fired him too. 

I found my own vascular surgeon for a second opinion. I took my CD of artery images to him.  He said, "Your iliac can be opened with a balloon and stent."  

He then referred me to a Interventional Cardiologist who also happens to be mentioned on The Way To My Heart's list in the Chicago area who tend to perform endovascular procedures using advanced techniques.  

He saw me and said he could do it in 3 days.  

I arrived at the appointed time. 

Wheeled in to the Cath Lab. 

Put me in twilight Sleep.  

Woke up back in my little room.  

Kept me in bed for 2 hours. 

Let me go home SAME DAY - no overnight hospital stay as a fem-fem required (multiple nights).  

Got home.

Walked my first 1/2 mile. Didn’t push it for 2 weeks after, but added a little bit more each day. 

At my 2 week follow up I was cleared to go hard at it, pain free.  I asked, "What if the stent closes?"  

He said, "We will reopen it but be glad you did not get that bypass."

That was 7 months ago.  

I still feel great. 

Moral of my Story?   

Get a second Opinion, or better yet, contact The Way To My Heart to discuss your situation and get their help to find an advanced skilled vascular specialist who has different options to meet your needs with less invasive approaches.  They seem to know the absolute best. This is a wonderful site with the best people.

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