A Heart Attack? Me?My heart was the last thing on my mind when I woke up on January 4, 2017.
The night before, I had finally been able to attend my Pilates class for the first time since knee surgery in November. The meniscus tear I'd suffered after falling off my bike in August had sidelined me from the activities I love, and returning to my twice-weekly Pilates class was to be the start of returning to my active lifestyle. My teacher and classmates helped me celebrate my return with mini cupcakes and a class of Prosecco after our workout. I had given myself the gift of running for my 50th birthday, and in the five years since had run dozens of 5Ks, a few 10Ks and six 13.1 mile half marathons. One of the playlists on my phone is titled, "Three Hour Run". I loved the idea that I could run for three hours without stopping, and I was determined to get back there. I carry 15-20 extra pounds, and was hoping that starting to run again would help me shed the weight and start to feel more energetic. I woke up January 4 full of hope, but that feeling was soon replaced by another one. Fear.
I realized when I stood up that I had a strange feeling in my upper abdomen - one I'd never felt before. It was a slight burning feeling, almost like heartburn but milder and in a larger area. I told my husband that I felt weird, but I couldn't put my finger on where the feeling was coming from. I was worried something was seriously wrong with my stomach, but I took an antacid and went to work. When I arrived at the site of my first meeting, I climbed two flights of stairs, and at the top, I felt suddenly extrememly nauseous. I told my boss I had to go home because I didn't feel well (ironically leaving the meeting where the fire chief, who is trained in ALS, was sitting, in a building 1/4 mile from our fire station that has advanced life support transport). As I began to drive home, I texted my husband to tell him I was coming home, then proceded to vomit while driving. This actually made me feel better - I thought it must just be a stomach virus I'd been feeling. When I arrived home a few minutes later, I realized I was no longer nauseous, but I still had that weird feeling in my upper abdomen. My husband said he wanted to take me to the ER and I agreed. However, first I went upstairs to change clothes (!) and he brought me up three baby aspirins to chew.
When I arrived at the hospital, I didn't feel too bad, so I was kind of embarrassed to be there. Of course they took everything very seriously and quickly took an EKG, got me on heparin and a nitro patch and drew blood. I had to wait three hours for them to take a second troponin level then met with a cardiologist who said that the lab results indicated there was definitely something going on with my heart and that he wanted to keep me overnight and do a cath the following day. After much discussion, I agreed, even through I was certain nothing was really wrong. I'm active! My cholesterol is 190! My blood pressure and blood sugar are monitored regularly and they're perfect! I'm "only" 55!
The result? Three vessel CAD, two stents in the LAD (one for a 99% blockage) and the start of my life as a cardiac patient.
Tomorrow I start cardiac rehab and plan to attend three times a week for eight weeks. I can't wait to get started on the path to getting my life back. Treadmill, here I come!