Thought I would write a quick update on what’s been going on since my last blog post. I forgot to mention last time that one of my friends from Philippine Paradise Divers, Iris Baula, came to visit me in the hospital in Singapore which was a nice surprise 🙂 She’s been working in Singapore, putting her marine biology degree to work and I’d not seen her since 2009. She brought me a basket of fruit, which I really appreciated, and it was nice to catch up 🙂
After being released from the hospital I was told to take it easy, especially the first week. I walked pretty much every day I was there. Through strategic breaks (when I would sit and rest), I was able to get in a fair amount of sightseeing.
I received an invitation from Akiko Tada who is a scuba diver (and very accomplished underwater photographer) to visit her workplace. Akiko and I have been friends for years on Facebook but had never met in person believe it or not! We figured out that we were both in Puerto Galera in 2007 at the same time diving with Asia Divers, but for whatever reason we didn’t meet! Turns out that she works for Diageo which is the largest spirits company in the world. One perk for their employees is an open bar after work on Thursday nights for themselves and guests. Their offices at 1 George Street have a great view of the harbor. Nice place to relax and socialize! I really enjoyed it even though I’m unable to drink until I’m recovered. To bad as their brands include Guinness and Johnny Walker! We talked about the local diving and I’m definitely hoping to go back and do some diving there!
I had a followup visit with a cardiologist at Changi General Hospital in Singapore on December 13th, two weeks after being released. I was cleared to leave Singapore but no flights more than six hours. That effectively squelched any plan to come back to the US for further medical treatment! The main cause of concern was that my heart function was at only 34%. Below 30% would put me in danger of congestive heart failure. The doctor felt this made the risk to high to clear me to fly home to the US. They recommended a stress test in about six weeks to determine how much I’d recovered.
I decided to travel on to the Philippines arriving in Manila on December 15th. One of the first things I did was file my claim for reimbursement from my insurance company. I had run up about $16,000 dollars in medical bills at Changi General Hospital (a cheap price considering the alternative)! I decided to just take it easy until after the New Year.
I initially consulted with a cardiologist at Baypointe Hospital in Olongapo City on January 7th. His opinion was that given the 80% blockage a stress test was not a good idea until it was cleared. He felt there was too great a risk that it could trigger another heart attack! He recommended an angiogram to confirm the 80% blockage. If confirmed, then another angioplasty to clear the blockage and place another stint. He told me I would need to go to Medical City at Clark in Angeles or to Manila.
On January 11th I went to Medical City Hospital at Clark in Angeles City where I consulted with another cardiologist. She concurred with the cardiologist at Baypointe. I’ve been having some numbness in both arms during the night when I sleep and also occasionally in my feet. I also can get lightheaded sometimes if I stand up to quickly and I tend to tire easily at times. I have much more stamina than when I left the hospital, but no where near what I had before the heart attack. She felt that as young as I am, that I would want to be able to return to my normal activities. Her opinion is that once the 80% blockage is removed that should happen within 3-4 months. I asked specifically about scuba diving (of course) and she said yes! Still have to pass the stress test of course, but she felt that shouldn’t be a problem 🙂
I plan to go in next week for preliminary blood work and then I plan to schedule it as soon as possible. With any luck I’ll be diving again by May!