I wrote this piece for the chronicles on my first rotation of my second year of residency. This patient eventually left the hospital, although, her quality of life was never the same again.
There is a young fifty eight year old mother of two currently walking the tightrope between life and death in my Coronary Intensive Care Unit (CICU). She had a massive heart attack earlier and was rushed to the angiography lab where one of the critical arteries supplying blood to the heart failed to appear on the monitor- it was completely blocked.
The “Widow Maker” was the affectionate name we give to a stenosis of this vessel. It’s all in the name, they say. Most commonly, this fatal stenosis usually affects fifty something year old men, fatally. But diseases never read textbooks and Ms. R had no idea of this horrible monster forming in her arteries. Now it threatens to end her life.
I told her family that the situation is grim, they cried, I had nothing to say to comfort them at all. She has a very slim chance of survival and they better be prepared.
At the moment she’s nearly maxed out on all the possible medication we could give her to raise her blood pressure and the only thing standing between her and the other Unit in Sky is the love of god and a resident with 14 months of experience.
I am scared.
Back to work!
For more information on the Left Anterior Descending arterys' nickname go here. Coronary artery disease is among this nations top killers. It is silent and deadly. If you experience symptoms of angina please go to you doctor to report them and have the appropriate work up.