May 31
Mammaw2510
Mammaw2510 , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Blessed To Be Alive.

I am the oldest of four children, and the last of the four to have heart by-pass surgery.  I guess you might say, heart disease runs in our family.  Our father died at age 65 of a heart attack.  Two months after my father passed away in 1976, my then husband has a triple by-pass.  It was new and not widely done in our area at that time.  That's when I stopped smoking because I made up my mind that I did not want to have that surgery!!   In 1999 my next to youngest sister had a heart attack and by-pass surgery.  In 2001 my youngest sister had a heart attack and by-pass surgery.  They both were 57 yrs. of age when they had their heart attacks. Neither of them had ever smoked and their chlorestrol levels were good.  I felt fortunate that I had already passed that mile marker and had no problems!  In 2010, my brother had heart valve problems and wound up having the valve replaced and also by-pass surgery at the same time.  That left only me, the eldest, who hadn't had heart surgery.  The thought was frequently on my mind though.  I felt like the last soldier standing and all the guns were pointed at me.  I had been going to a cardiologist for several years as I had high blood pressure, controlled by medication, and my chlorestrol was high but not extremely so.   I had had several echo cardiograms and chemical stress tests.  In June of 2013, while on vacation, I was carrying my great granddaughter when I had a pain in my chest.  I put her down and slowed my pace and by the time we got to our seats to watch her brother play ball, the pain had subsided.  I didn't mention it to anyone at the time.  I knew I had an appointment with my cardiologist when we got back home, so I waited for that.  I had no more pain, never had shortness of breath.  It had been a couple of years since I had seen the cardiologist so after telling him about the pain he scheduled me for an echo.  I went and had it done and went home.  About a week or so later, I got a call from the cardiologist's office saying he wanted me to have a stress test since it has been a couple of years since I'd had one.  I said okay, sure.  Went for that and was flabbergasted when they said I was going to do the treadmill.  I knew that wouldn't be good because I'm not an exerciser, and I've had both knees replaced and my legs are not strong, but I said I'd do the best I could.  So, I got on it and was doing okay until the nurse kicked up the speed and the elevation.  My legs got pretty shaky and weak.  I told her to stop, I got on the table for them to take pictures, still no pain or extreme shortness of breath.  When the test was completed I was told to get dressed and the doctor would be in to look at the test.  He came in and looked at the test and studied it for a few minutes.  Then he said, "This test is positive".  I thought ' Good'!!  Then I asked, "That's good, right?"  He said, "It's positive for blockage."...OH!  That's not good!!!!  I think that was on Monday.  My heart cath was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.  It showed five (5) blockages.  My surgery was scheduled for Friday, Jully 12th, 2012....Less than a month befoe my 76th birthday.  I had the surgery, which went well.  They only did 3 by-passes because the other blockages werevery small veins and they felt would not cause any serious problem.  I went home the following Monday, July 15h.  I completed 6 wks. of rehab and had not problems.  I felt great!I am the oldest of four children, and the last of the four to have heart by-pass surgery.  I guess you might say, heart disease runs in our family.  Our father died at age 65 of a heart attack.  Two months after my father passed away in 1976, my then husband has a triple by-pass.  It was new and not widely done in our area at that time.  That's when I stopped smoking because I made up my mind that I did not want to have that surgery!!   In 1999 my next to youngest sister had a heart attack and by-pass surgery.  In 2001 my youngest sister had a heart attack and by-pass surgery.  They both were 57 yrs. of age when they had their heart attacks. Neither of them had ever smoked and their chlorestrol levels were good.  I felt fortunate that I had already passed that mile marker and had no problems!  In 2010, my brother had heart valve problems and wound up having the valve replaced and also by-pass surgery at the same time.  That left only me, the eldest, who hadn't had heart surgery.  The thought was frequently on my mind though.  I felt like the last soldier standing and all the guns were pointed at me.  I had been going to a cardiologist for several years as I had high blood pressure, controlled by medication, and my chlorestrol was high but not extremely so.   I had had several echo cardiograms and chemical stress tests.  In June of 2013, while on vacation, I was carrying my great granddaughter when I had a pain in my chest.  I put her down and slowed my pace and by the time we got to our seats to watch her brother play ball, the pain had subsided.  I didn't mention it to anyone at the time.  I knew I had an appointment with my cardiologist when we got back home, so I waited for that.  I had no more pain, never had shortness of breath.  It had been a couple of years since I had seen the cardiologist so after telling him about the pain he scheduled me for an echo.  I went and had it done and went home.  About a week or so later, I got a call from the cardiologist's office saying he wanted me to have a stress test since it has been a couple of years since I'd had one.  I said okay, sure.  Went for that and was flabbergasted when they said I was going to do the treadmill.  I knew that wouldn't be good because I'm not an exerciser, and I've had both knees replaced and my legs are not strong, but I said I'd do the best I could.  So, I got on it and was doing okay until the nurse kicked up the speed and the elevation.  My legs got pretty shaky and weak.  I told her to stop, I got on the table for them to take pictures, still no pain or extreme shortness of breath.  When the test was completed I was told to get dressed and the doctor would be in to look at the test.  He came in and looked at the test and studied it for a few minutes.  Then he said, "This test is positive".  I thought ' Good'!!  Then I asked, "That's good, right?"  He said, "It's positive for blockage."...OH!  That's not good!!!!  I think that was on Monday.  My heart cath was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.  It showed five (5) blockages.  My surgery was scheduled for Friday, Jully 12th, 2013....Less than a month befoe my 76th birthday.  I had the surgery, which went well.  They only did 3 by-passes because the other blockages werevery small veins and they felt would not cause any serious problem.  I went home the following Monday, July 15h.  I completed 6 wks. of rehab and had not problems.  I felt great!  About 8 months following surgery, on Sunday morning, Feb 3rd 2014 (if I remember correctly) I had just finished breakfast and I said to our cocker spaniel 'get out of the way before I drop something on you.'  Then I thought....That sounded weird.  My husband turned to me and asked, "Are you having trouble talking?"  I said, "no".  Just like that my speech was clear.  So, I went in the bedroom and sat on the bed, and started wondering what had just happened.   I decided that something was wrong and maybe I should get it checked out.  I told my husband that I thought I should go to the ER and get checked, so off we went.  They did a CT Scan of my head immedicately and determined that I had a stroke, and that I had had a previous one at some point in time, which I had no knowledge of so it must have happened when I was sleeping...scary thought.  So I was admitted to the hospital for further tests.  I had a slight droop on the right side of my face and a little slur in my speech.  Plus I couldn't drink out of a cup very neatly...but other than that I seemed fine.  After a few days of observation, they did and EEG and took pictures of my heart which showed I had a blood clot in my heart.  They prescribed coumadin and I had to stay until that was regulated.  After 3 months they did another EEG and the clot was dissolved and gone.  (Thank you, Jesus!)  But I had to stay on the coumadin and get checked every month to make sure my coumadin level was still within range.   Around Easter 2014 I started having this weird pain that started in the top of my scalp and ran down behind my ear on the right side.  It felt like a little electric current.  I thought it was neuralgia which I heard my grandmother and mother speak of when I was a child.  A couple of days later, I got up and I think my husband questioned me about my face drooping more.  I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and raised my eyebrows....and only the left side moved.  I thought Great!  I've got Bell's Palsy, so off to my primary doctor I went.   She immediately order a CT Scan to make sure it wasn't another stroke, and it wasn't.  It was indeed Bell's Palsy and she gave me some medication to help with the pain, etc.   A few days, maybe a week later, I woke with this terrific pain in my head on the right side, behind and under my ear.  I thought I was getting the mumps again, which I had when I was a child and remembered the pain.  I put heat to it and took some Tylenol for the pain and tried to go back to sleep, which I finally did after a while.  When I woke the pain was pretty much gone.  Later I felt a bump in my ear and I asked my husband to look at it.  He said it was just a red spot.  I got to thinking about that and decided I must has shingles in my ear and that's what caused the horrible pain.  I went to the doctor again, and she said I shouldn't have shingles as that is the same virus as the Bell's Palsy and the medication I was taking for that should have prevented my getting shingles.  She looked inside my ear, and said, "I think you're right.  You have shingles in your ear!"  Well, it took a while to get over all that, but I did, and I was more than happy to have it gone!   In April of 2013, or some time shortly after having the stroke, my cardiologist recommended that I have a loop recorder inserted in my chest to monitor my heart because I had had the clot in my heart   He was 99.9% sure that I had A-fib because that's what causes blood clots in the heart.  I had never noticed any irregularities in my heart beat other than a skipped beat from time to time, but just to be on the side of caution I agreed.  I've had it in my chest for almost 3 yrs now and I have not had one episode of A-fib.  Praise God!!!   This is my story of my heart surgery, stroke, and at 2 yrs., last August, 2015 I had a chemical echocardiogram to check my heart and everything was good!  I'll soon be 79 yrs. old and I feel pretty well for my age, I would say.  I am thankful for the advancements in cardiac treatment and care and thankful that I am stil alive and enjoying life. I am blessed!  Thank you for taking the time to read my story.  In case you're wondering, all four of us are still alive and very thankful to be able to enjoy life.
3 Comments
  • trvlgy2u
    trvlgy2u,
    You have been through alot........what a good attitude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! T...Watson
  • 3Sevens
    3Sevens,
    Mammaw2510, It's so important for you to know what your body is telling you. You have proven that listening to your body and going to the doctor and explaining your problems has worked for you and kept you alive and enjoying life.
  • anne-marie halloran
    anne-marie halloran,
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SPLENDID MESSAGEOF HOPE. I NOW HAVE NIGHTMARES BECAUSE I WORRY A LOT. MY DAUGHTER BOUGHT ME A HSE NEARER TO HER, BUT SHE TREATS ME LIKE AN ITEM ON HER LITS, [A FORMER COO] WHEN SHE CAME HERE PROMPTLY AFTER MY STROKE SHE WAS CRYING A LOT, NOW SHE FEEELS RELIEVED, NO KIDDING, I WANT HER TO GIVE ME TH SELFISH ATTENTION I PROBABLY THINK I SHOULD GET. YOUR LETTER IS FULL OF STERNGHT AND DETERMINATION, THE KIND OF THINGYS I USED TO BE MADE OF . THANKS KEEP UP THE WONDERFUL WORTK. AND THANK YOU, YES ONE LIFE IS WHAT WEW GET, MINE HAS HAD MANY TRAGEDIES BUT HAS BEEN SO RICH. BLESS YOU
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