When my EKG stress test turned up evidence of heart disease, my cardiologist ordered an angiogram. It would use a radioactive dye to show any blockages in the blood flow. The test was to done at St. Rose Hospital, a small and financially strapped institution in Hayward.
I arrived early the day of the test and was mildly sedated. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into an artery in the thigh and threading it up through the body to the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
I remember nothing of the procedure. The sedation kept me in a sleep-like state. Next thing I knew Dr. Jain was rousing me and pointing to a television monitor overhead.
Where the main artery to the heart branched out in three directions, I saw the bottleneck. A blood vessel the thickness of a pencil narrowed suddenly to the diameter of a toothpick. I was groggy but I understood. My life was hanging by not much more than a thread.
A little later, when the sedation had worn off, Dr. Jain visited my hospital bed to stress the seriousness of the situation. The blockage was about 95 percent. Or to put it another way, only five percent of the potential blood flow was reaching the heart. No wonder my chest hurt when I exerted myself!
Dr. Jain introduced me to a surgeon who could have done the procedure within days. But I had learned to check everything first with my insurance company, and therein a glitch arose.
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