Joan Daigle – One of the Lucky Ones
Joan served in the US Air Force for twenty years. Thanks to carefully noting her symptoms and good communication with her healthcare team, Joan was able to ensure she is being treated for previously undetected heart disease.
Wow! I am one of the lucky ones! I’m still here to tell my story. Heart disease runs in my family and I am so fortunate to have an excellent healthcare provider, NP Jill McGruder, at the Poplar Bluff VA Hospital. Her willingness to listen and pursue answers saved my life.
Over the past several years, I have suffered from heartburn and acid reflux, as well as vertigo. In March, out of the blue, I fell. Nothing out of the ordinary was going on. The caregivers at the hospital attributed it to vertigo, but something just didn’t sit right with me.
I documented my concerns with the fall, the heartburn, and a few odd chest pains/pressure, along with some other health aches and pains, to take to my first appointment with the new Women’s Health Medical Director. The things I thought were important turned out to be the least important and NP McGruder immediately said, “I believe it is your heart and I want us to focus on that first.” I was surprised to learn that my fall was a sign/symptom of heart disease.
Another important item was knowing and sharing my family history. Family history is now one of the biggest tell all signs of our own health concerns/issues. I am the fifth of eight siblings so far with known heart disease at a fairly young age. NP McGruder sent me to a cardiologist and when discussing the issues with him, he wasn’t convinced I had heart issues, but chose to be cautious because of my family history. They scheduled a few tests and an angiogram. What I thought was a quick angiogram and then lunch at my favorite restaurant, turned in to two stents and a night in the hospital.
I can’t stress the need to pay attention to the signs our body is giving us. Keep a journal of issues; what might seem insignificant today adds up over time and will provide you and your healthcare providers with a complete picture. This will allow them to make an accurate diagnosis and you can make informed decisions together. It’s too easy to walk into an appointment and forget things you want to talk with your provider about. Make a list and ensure you cover all the items on your list with your healthcare team. I can’t emphasize this enough. In my mind, I didn’t put together the heartburn, acid reflux, and a fall with heart disease. I was already being treated for heartburn and acid reflux. If I had missed one of the three items during my discussion with NP McGruder, I might not be sitting here today sharing this with you.