Jan 25
Mariannaheusler , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Don't Keep Walking

On a hot, sticky July monring, I left my apartment for Central Park. I was going for a short jog before I headed for my dreaded mammography. I wasn't in the mood but if I let my moods dictate my exercise regimen, I would have turned into a couch potato long ago.

I can't say it was my best run, but it wasn't my worse, and I felt fine. That was until I reached the bridal path when a crushing, searing pain came over my left chest, my left shoulder and down my left arm.

I really thought that my muscles were twitching, because of my workout yesterday in the gym. Maybe I twisted my shoulder while I was running and maybe I could walk it off.

So I started to walk towards the entrance to the park but with every step it became more and more difficult. A park attendent rode by in one of those open vehicles. I thought about stopping him and telling him I might be having a heart attack. But then I thought I probably wasn't and they would call an ambulance, creating a lot of drama over a muscle spasm.

But I decided that I would stop at urgent care on my way home. Forget about the mammography. The question was could I make it out of the park, let alone another mile to urgent care?

I told myself that it would be all right if I just kept walking.

When I woke, I was in an ambulance, surrounded by people, busy and concerned. They told me I had a massive heart attack. They gave me aspirin and nitro glycerin. I felt as though I was trapped in a bad dream and everything was surreal.

Evidently after walking a half a mile, I collasped and had a seizure in the grass. A jogger and a biker stopped and called 911. They were kind enough to stay with me, turn me on my side, so I wouldn't choke on my vomit. I have no memory of the two women who saved my life (but later I found out who they were and took them to lunch, which was the least I could do.)

The ambulance took me to Lenox Hill Hospital where I went into cardiac arrest. My main artery was blocked 99% and it took two stents to open it. After the surgery I stayed in ICU for four days.

There is little doubt that God was watching over me because every cardiologists who walked into the room told me how lucky I was. I only survived because of I got help in time.

I have a massive heart attack in Central Prak, which was crowded. Ten days later I would have been at Cape Cod, running alone along the shoreline, early in the morning. If I collapsed there, no one would have seen me or found me in time. I would have been dead by the water. Even if I survived, by the time I reached the nearest hospital, it was doubtful they could have done anythbing for me.

Here's the real scary part. I never had any symptons. I never had indisgestion or chest pains. I was never out of breath, a runner and a gym rat. I did have high cholesterol and ignored the doctor's advice to take medication. My mother had high cholesterol, never took pills and lived to be ninety seven. I always thought I had her genes.

Guess not.

More likely I have my father's genes. He died of a heart attack when he was forty-six. But he was a chain smoker, overweight, never exercised. I thought I was quite healthy. So did my family and friends. Which only goes to show, you never know.

I didn't want to take the pills for cholesterol and now I take five pills a day. They leave me light headed but that's a small price to pay. I watch what I eat, try to limit sugar and saturated fat. I do miss my cupcakes and French fries. And I'm terrified it might happen again, and this time I won't be so lucky.

So what have I learned from this?

If your doctor tells you to take medication, seriously consider it. You may not need it, you may be fine, or you may be playing Russian roulette.

If you feel as though you might be having a heart attack, don't tell yourself you're being silly. Get help right away! I only survived because I was in a place where others called for help. If I had been home alone, I would have sank on my bed.

And died.

Support the American Heart Association - a great organization.

And if you're going to have a heart attack, Central Park in the place to be.

  • Lorb
    thank you for this, so glad you are alive and made it through....
    What a story !! ..SO GLAD YOU'RE STILL HERE WITH US..
  • Infobug
    Thcugh I totally love Cape Cod and it's deserted dunes, I'm terribly glad you were in Central Park at the time of your heart attack of the drk, in some ways you have illustrated that it's luck of the draw where we live and who is available to help us. My massive right-brained stroke happened on a Sunday afternoon as I was peacefully reading the New York Times beside my husband in San Francisco.. He called 911, but would have been away at school during the week. So I guess we both can say, "I [heart] New York!" You go, girl, I'll be right behind ya!
  • fluffy
    Your Special Angel was definitely watching over you in Central Park! I, too, resisted Cholesterol medication, although my father had his first heart attack at age 40 yrs., 2 more major ones, then an horrid stroke at age 69 years which left him disabled for 11 years....But, I thought that because I was not an alcoholic and did take pretty good care of myself and eating habits: I could get by w/o Cholesterol lowering drugs. Wrong. Just like you, I had no symptoms. I did not even know that I had an heart attack, which was called a Silent Heart Attack....Hmmmm. There were 2 nights perhaps in early 2016 when I thought maybe I had indigestion in the middle of the night. Who knows, but what is fact is that my EKG in March/2016 showed: Infarct. That word is an horrible one, Infarct...Just like Dad.... I have very adverse reaction to Statins,but can successfully take a Crestor generic 2 x per week, and my cholesterol/triglycerides have lowered significantly. Blood pressure is much lower, and I have gotten off some 'stressful committee' assignments. I have a Cardio I can talk with, and today I am wearing an Heart Monitor for 24 hours, just to make sure that Atrial Fib is not one of my issues. I did not give sufficient weight to my genetic predisposition, because I did not do most of the health harming activities my father did. But: Genes will sneak up on you, and I was pigheaded about NOT taking Statins.......Now I, as do you, feel lucky.....My hardheadedness did not cause my death, but it gave me a wake up call.....I will pay more attention, I will not dismiss indigestion, I will listen to my Cardio.....And, like you, I will try to live my life peacefully, and keep working on fighting off the fear. I am only 3 months shy of the birthday in which my father had the massive stroke. Gulp! But I will keep doing my best and keep fighting down the fear.....
  • Kiahlera
    Thank you for your post, candor and insight. I too am very glad you were in a populated area where people came to your aide quickly. Wishing the best health as you move forward.
  • OhFive
    Thanks for sharing your story. It's amazing how many of us had someone step in and help when needed.
  • cdameron
    Being in the right place and having a Special Angel also saved me... Pigheadedness runs in the family but I am taking all my meds and hoping for good results on my latest tests. Bless all of our hearts, keep us strong and thank you AHA for this vehicle to share our stories and get the encouragement that helps us "fight down the fear"...
  • jtcodrey
    Your story sounds very much like mine. My heart attack happened the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I too have always been the gym rat and athlete with high cholesterol but refused the meds and claimed to come from my father's strong stock not my mom's side of the family with a long history of heart disease and early death ages. Now I also take five meds a day and I am fortunate to be alive. Long story short, I ignored symptoms a month before the attack and was fortunate to have made decisions that put me at home with my husband and son. The minute my husband heard me say pain in my left arm he told me get in the car we are going to the ER. Halfway there, at age 50, I went into full cardiac arrest and died in the car. My husband zoomed to the hospital where they worked on me for over a half hour to bring me back. Once stable, they determined that I needed a stent and they didn't have a cardiac unit. So they had to transport me to another hospital in town and told my family "if she makes it over there..." they would put a stent in. I have lost four hours of my life, woke up in ICU in EPIC pain, but alive and to the terrified faces of my family and friends. Four days in ICU, two more on the telemetry floor and then home. I woke up to my husband telling me I had a massive heart attack and my response was much the same...I am a 50 year old woman who goes to the gym at 6am! This doesn't happen to people like me! Well, it does and it did. I think the thing that has haunted me the most is the "what ifs." But I just keep thanking God that everyone was where they were supposed to be and I am alive! Prayers to you for healing and peace :)
  • Ralaz
    Thank you for sharing your journey! I am a Respiratory Therapist who works in ER. I see this happen OFTEN to women who experience few, if no symptoms prior to a heart attack. Time is Muscle. I greatly encourage you to share your story with others ~ especially since February is upon us and it is 'Go Red for Women' month. I also live with a dangerous heart rhythm, Ventricular Tachycardia, Hypertension, and get Coronary Spasms to top it of it all. Please share your story, and share it again! You never know who's life you may save in the future! Go Red For Women!
  • featherstep1
    Glad to hear you survived your massive heart attack. I had heart surgery in 2009 - an artery 95% blocked. I ended up with 4 bypasses. I visit heart patients in the hospital and am not surprised to hear you exhibited no symptoms. I've visited with many female heart patients who have said things like, "I thought it was a bad flu," "I thought it was indigestion," etc. Stay on yours meds, eat healthy, and continue your exercise regimen.
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