4 Months today - time to tell my story
My heart attack was June 4th. STEMI/100% RCA occluded. 2 stents.
My husband and I were at an appointment to plan his ankle replacement surgery. As we’re discussing details with his Doc I started becoming extremely warm. Tore off my sweater, and wiped the sweat dripping from my forehead. Neither of them seemed to notice. Then I felt like someone took 2 ice picks and stabbed them into each side of my jaw. That lasted about 5 seconds. Was that jaw pain? I’m clammy\sweating? What’s happening? Dr. left the room. I stood up and looked in the mirror behind the door. I was white as a sheet. Told my husband I wasn’t feeling well and I needed to use the restroom before we started the 40-minute drive home. When I came out I asked him if he could drive (with his bad foot) because I REALLY wasn’t feeling good. (I said with my hand on my chest.) We drove for 10-15 minutes. All the while I’m thinking I should ask him to turn around. After all, his appointment was at a hospital clinic. We kept driving. Seemed like forever, but 15 more minutes passed and I told him the pain in my chest was getting worse. “What? What chest pain?” he said. I guess I neglected to share that information. I told him that he needed to hurry and get me to an ER. As we got closer both of my arms were getting numb from the elbows down. School buses, little old ladies in walkers crossing streets, ”You REALLY need to hurry, PLEASE hurry” I said.
He hobbled into the ER on his bad foot and yelled for someone to come out and help, that I was in the car having chest pains. They came out with a wheel chair and asked me to get in. Nope, I couldn’t move. They reached in and grabbed me, sat me in the chair and we raced to a room. Poking, prodding, tests, blood, then someone standing at the bottom of the table said, “Ms. Nancy, you’re having a heart attack, and we’re going to fix it.” And, off we go to the Cath Lab. I remember watching them moving quickly around the room, giving me nitro, watching the clock, puking, and at one point someone said, “stay with us Nancy!” What?!? I’m here, I’m not going anywhere. Doc kept asking me where my pain was. “Sternum. Just Sternum.” And then he said … we’re done. He showed me before and after pictures, said my pain should be subsiding, and asked if I had any questions. Are you kidding?? I had a million questions but the first thing came out of my mouth was, “I suppose this means I won’t be golfing tomorrow night?” He looked a little shocked but calmly said, “No, not tomorrow, but when you DO start golfing again, you will be walking. No more riding the cart. You will be making a lot of changes in your lifestyle.”
No warning, no high blood pressure, no bad cholesterol, no diabetes. In fact, I had my yearly physical just 4 days prior. Doc said everything looked great. I am 60 years old and have always been active, eat good and in good physical condition. After meeting with my Cardiologist 12 weeks out, he said “genetics.” I have high Lipoprotein(a). Something they could be testing for in your cholesterol panel but they don’t because it must be “sent out” for results.
Cardiac Rehab was great. They started me in the hospital. Walking laps, or as far as I could go, as many times a day as I wanted. They had fake stairs, I thought, “oh this is crazy. I can do stairs.” I got to the top (6 steps up), turned around and had to catch my breath as the rest of the room kept moving. But from that moment on, fear stepped in. I was fine when I was with the nurses, my husband, kids, or anyone else. I just couldn’t be alone.
Was fear becoming my new normal? At 2 weeks I returned to work, at 3 weeks Doc said I could return to my golf league. OK, here I am . . . fearful, angry, I would cry, I thought I was so fragile now. I sat in the parking lot at the golf course that night and this song came on the radio. Here I am crying as I listened, hoping no one sees me. But, this song was about me. I CAN let go of that fear. "I have to live my life because I HAVE my life to live!!!" I never saw this Heart Event coming. I didn't ask for it or plan on it. In fact, I had a lot of plans that have now been put on hold. And, here we are. We're all in this together, but as the song says, FEAR is not welcome here. We are Strong, Brave, and Free (to get healthy again.)
Anyone struggling with fear, please give it a listen.
The Breakup Song https://g.co/kgs/TpkyU5