Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bypass Avenue: Heart Attack!

The First Sunrise of 2016

I was lucky to see the first sunrise of 2016 on January 1. Thanks to the medical staff at Kaiser for saving my life and letting this happen. This is not the best sunrise picture I ever took, but perhaps the most memorable as I got this 2 days after my bypass surgery taken from the balcony area of Kaiser Moanalua hospital.

For many years one of the things that I have done was wake up early on the first day of the new year to get photograph of the first sunrise of the year. Capturing the first sunrise of 2016 almost did not happen.


On the morning of December 26, 2015 I woke up at around 5:45 am. Got out of bed, got in the car and drove to Ala Moana Beach Park, Magic Island to do a walk around the area and perhaps take a photo of the setting full moon that I missed on Christmas Day night.

Camera in hand, I started my walk just fine for about 20 yards. I was on the paved Magic Island jogging trail when I kind of felt my chest tighten and heighten in pain. The level of pain was not very great. I continued walking for a few more feet when I decided this doesn’t feel normal.

I did an about face and slowly walked back to my car. I found it kind of astounding that I was also running out of breath. I had only awoken about 45 minutes before this happened. “Am I having a heart attack” I silently asked myself as I struggled a few more yards to get back to my car.

I got there and immediately turned on my cell phone. I was kind of debating whether or not to call 911 or simply drive the car home and rest in my apartment. By the way I am one of the last persons on earth to have bought a cell phone. This occurred in March of 2014. I did not tell anyone about my cell phone or its number except to a few close relatives and friends. Little did I know that the cell phone would be instrumental in saving my life.

While seated in the car, I called my friend Lisa. As I vaguely recall now, her line was busy. So I waited for a few moments, still in some mild pain. I decided against driving home and instead called 911. Here in Honolulu the 911 operator asks if you want police, fire or ambulance. I said “ambulance”. They switched me over to the ambulance dispatcher. The person on the other side told me to stay in the car and turn on its emergency flashers.

Ambulance on the street

The ambulance took 20 minutes to get to where I was. File photo by Mel.

The ambulance took 20 minutes to get to where I was. Parked car, emergency flashers on, parking lot. The nearest ambulance place is about 2 miles from Magic Island. Why did it take so long? If my heart attack was massive, I probably would have been dead before they arrived.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I did call Lisa again. I vaguely remember any conversation I had with her, but I think for the most part she asked me to stay calm and don’t panic.

EMS’s ambulance finally arrived. They opened the back door of the ambulance and surprisingly I could walk out of my car and sit in the gurney. Before I did that I made sure my car was secured. Turned off the flashers, got my stuff (cell phone, camera, wallet, bag). I locked the doors.

The paramedics loaded me onto the ambulance after I sat in the gurney. They laid me down, stuck an IV needle in me, hooked me up to a blood pressure and oxygen machine, an EKG reader and who knows what else. I was also given a nitroglycerin pill that I had to hold under my tongue until it dissolved.

The paramedics also asked me a lot of health questions, including whether or not I drink or smoke, to which my answers were in the negative. I was conscious for the whole ride on the ambulance… from Magic Island to Kaiser Moanalua Hospital near the Salt Lake area of Honolulu / Pearl City-Aiea.

The ambulance arrived at the Kaiser Moanalua Emergency Room in about 20 minutes from my pickup. Since it was an early Saturday morning, there was no traffic on the H1 freeway.


Kaiser Moanalua

Kaiser’s Moanalua Hospital. File photo by Mel.

By the time I got to the Emergency Room, I was feeling a little better. I think the nitro kind of help relieve my heart attack stress.

Anyways I was wheeled in and transferred to one of the emergency rooms. Nurses promptly hooked me up to a number of machines, had some kind of IV going and there I was. Heart attack victim laying on a bed, high tech machines reading out numbers and making strange little beeping noises that were relayed to the main desk I think informing the nurses that I was still alive.

While at the emergency room they ran a series of blood tests. They also gave me something to swallow to check if it was a bad case of heartburn. Turned out it wasn’t. After about an hour the blood test results were returned and the emergency room doctors determined that I had a “moderate heart attack”.

Therefore I was admitted and wheeled out of the emergency room and on to the third floor which is part of the cardio telemetry area of the hospital. The hospital would take good care of me from this point going forward.

After several days and a big operation (which will be covered in the next post), I would be able to see my first sunrise of 2016.


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