Mar 16

Heart attack with 2 dfibs

On April 23rd, 2016, at 45 years old,  I was having a heart attack and didn't even know it. I eventually made it to an emergency room where they told me I was having a heart attack. If my family would not have pushed the issue I would have taken a nap and tried to sleep off what I thought was heart burn.

As they were going over what procedure was going to be performed, I went into D-fib, I was shocked and I "awoke" from what felt like a dream. While I was "away", I could faintly hear conversations going on around me, they were at the time annoying but I finally listened to them. It was the staff in the ER that was yelling my name. When I came back out of dfib, I didn't know what was up or down, completely and uterly confused. It took a good couple of minutes before I knew where I was, who I was,  and the horrible reality of what was going on. 

I was immediately wisked away for surgery (through the wrist) and I had a conversation with one of the ER caregivers. I told her if I go away again, to slap me, scream at me, do whatever as that was why I came back the first time. I could hear them and that brought me back. As fate would have it, I felt the surreal feeling of my heart going into dfib for the second time and I warned them as much as I could. I was shocked again and this time when I went away it was very similar to the first time except it was difficult to hear and follow the sound of what was going on around me. I heard a voice and pulled out of it for the second time. I didn't have the same feeling of my world turned upside down and inside out. I knew what had happened and I almost felt guilty for following the voice back to consciousness. The stint procedure proceeded and I advised the woman in the ER, the voice I followed back, that if that happened again and I went away, I was not going to be able to get back. 

I don't expect many to read this entire post as it is mostly therapeutic for me just to get it out of me. I have went through a "life changing" event and there seems to be no one that can "relate" to dying twice. No one understands that almost a year later, I still suffer from anxiety about my health, worry and sleepless nights. No one understands why I freak out when someone "scares" me by sneaking up on me.... do ya want to know what if feels like to have your heart stop? Have the crap scared out of you and you can actually feel your heart drop.... that's it. Not a good feeling anymore.

If there is anyone out there that can relate to any of this mess, I would love to hear from you, would love to see how others cope with their own personal battles. I take one day at a time and am thankful for my family that has stuck with me and to the people in the ER that saved my life. 
  • AHAASAKatie
    You are not alone, there are many people on the Support Network with similar experiences to you. Anxiety is a common topic on the Support Network and I look forward to hearing more about how you are doing in the future. We are here for you. Best Katie
  • JamesPL
    While I can't relate to having my heart stopped, I can relate to a "life changing" event and being scared about your health. I was fortunate enough to have had the blockages in my arteries before it turned into a heart attack. This led to open heart surgery to do a quintuple bypass. I was warned that depression is common but I was so grateful to have survived that I became determined to rehab and get my life back in order. Recovery from having your chest cut open os slow and you have to be patient. The first day I came home from the hospital, my encouraged me to take a walk with her as the doctors had prescribed. I decided a short walk to a few houses away and back would do me good. I got to the end of my driveway and was completely out of breath and exhausted. I had to back inside. They know the recovery is slow and as such, scheduled my rehab to start a month after the surgery. I was eager once that day came and embraced it. I was in rehab for about five weeks. The first day I did a short walk on the treadmill. By the end of rehab, I was jogging for thirty minutes. So while it is difficult, you have to be grateful for still being here and try as hard as you can to get your life back.It is also important to listen to exactly what the doctors and physical therapists prescribe. Good luck.
  • purple heart
    purple heart,
    I relate to your story! I had a cardiac arrest at age 34. About two years after I was in the kitchen with my two young children. I heard a knock on the kitchen door and went to look out! The next thing I remember is looking up at a bright white light and I was sinking down! So I started swimming with my arms to reach the light! Then I woke up laying on the floor with my two children telling me to wake up! I was so tired and my arms ached !!! I asked them if they saw me swimming up to the light! They said no that I was just laying on the floor and they thought they felt something! It was my ICD !!! I not only scared myself but I scared my children as well!!!! I call my husband and asked him to come home but he said no! He thinks I'm crazy!!! I was to afraid to call my dr but I finally did!!! I will never listen to my husband again and self doubt myself again! They checked my ICD and it did give me a shock! Thankful my children cared enough to call me out of the place I went to! They are my two reasons for living each day! 17 years later I still have anxiety . The fear has lessened some! I still have trouble sleeping! Most people do NOT understand what I went through so that is very hard! My husband has never talk to me about my cardiac arrest or anything! I feel very lonely at times since my cardiac arrest! I have met and became friends with one person who had a heart transplant so it is nice to talk to him and his wife since they understand. Sorry to go on and on! Just remember we are survivors!!! We need to stay positive especially when things get hard! Try to enjoy the little things in life!!! I wish you the very best! I am here if you ever want to talk! Take care!
  • sprayer1
    i too went through the depression of having a heart attack & not knowing it. because i waited to go to the e.r. i did have some of my heart damaged. i now take 5 different meds but am able to work as before & do most everything i did before. what i do wish someone told me was it was normal & ok that it is ok to take anti-depression meds to help get over your ordeal. i did that for about 2-3 months & it helped get me through, also i started walking & it has made such a hugh difference in looking & feeling good. exercise is the most important thing to do after your eating & meds if you need them. goodluck to you & stay positive!
  • uribeml
    Hello! I can so relate to your story. I had my defib for three years and it didn't start shocking me until 2 years and 7 months after having it. You explained it perfectly! About the waking up and not knowing what is up or what is down. It's like you wake up and have to process thatn you woke up from the shock and stabilize yourself to know what side is up and down. You explained it perfectly! I have tried to explain it to others when they ask and the best I can do is tell them that I just woke up but feeling kind of dizzy and weird. That I have to 'snap out of it.' Did you feel it? I sometimes fainted and didnt feel the shock and other times I stayed away but felt the shock. That shock was so painful. It's kind of you don't feel the shock but realize you are screaming because you feel a hard blow against your body. I had so much anxiety after my first shock which was in November. I had another one in December and March I had so many I lost count. One day I had 40 arrythmias at the ER and 20 of them were either the faintiing or staying awake. Even after heart transplant I still had a lot of anxiety. Even though I didn't have the defib anymore, I was always on the lookout, like waiting for it to shock me. At times I feel uneasy not having it anymore. It's weird that I don't need it anymore but at times feel that I am missing something. Not that I miss it, but miss feeling safe knowing it was inside of me saving my life. I was saved man times by the defib. At first I didn't want it, but Thank God I had the chance to get it as it saved my life many times as I went into cardiac arrest. I had to go to a psychologist and was told that it was normal having anxiety after the transplant because my mind was used to suffering and knowing I could die at any moment. Before the transplant I coudln't sleep. I celebrated my 10 months with my new heart and at times I still have trouble sleeping, but when I do end up sleeping, I slept so much better compared to before. So I feel rested. Sometimes take a nap during the day. Not everyday, maybe once a week or some weeks I don't. Sorry for the long message! Hope my story can help others that are going through this. If you have any questions regarding to defib or heart transplant, ask away. :)
  • ActiveLarry
    A buddy of mine had a similar event after, I think, a car accident. He could hear voices telling him, "Come back, Bob. Come Back." Over and over. He was approaching a white light, but then reversed, and was able to wake up. Without their urging, he would have been gone. Its a good tale to tell. But be fearless. You are part of a very exclusive club. Eat healthy, laugh much.
  • cdameron
    Your right, it is a mess when you have a heart "event"... It is hard to know how to proceed after such a trauma. You are also correct about the catharsis that happens when you write the experience down! When I look back I see all the warning signs I had and how hard it was to act on them because I wasn't sure what they meant. That is also true as you rehabilitate. I reached my one year mark this past January and spent the day, not celebrating but rather holding my breath that nothing else would happen. Life may be a little more uncertain now but because we are still here it is blessed. I manage to internalize most of my feelings of fear nowadays and when I can't, I come here to read letters about survival which make me appreciate the unintended bond we all have. Your letter helped me today and all the comments here confirm that we are a diverse group of people with something in common... We survived! Blessing on your continued recovery.
    JLC, I can relate to it although not from the aspect of my heart stopping! I'm a stroke survivor and in my spare time I serve on the board of a non-profit that focuses on the military. In that capacity I've been involved in a program to combat PTSD. When I met a councelor who specializes in PTSD treatments, I was stunned to learn that I was likely to have an element of PTSD attributed to experiencing the actual stroke event. Our experience may not be as graphic or as spectacular as those serving on the front line but what is undeniable is that we experienced our own near-death experience and it is therefore quite normal to experience anxiety when reflecting on the actual event. Stay positive, be thankful for surviving and remember that the virtual community here is always ready to provide support.
  • IslandGirl
    I have not had my heart stop but am scheduled for surgery on Monday. I truly believe that you were headed to heaven but your work here is not done and that is why you heard them calling you back and you made it back. It is a blessing and a miracle given to you. You are here for a very special reason and it will come clear to you soon. Do not fear your blessing rejoice in it and share it with everyone. It will help them and relieve your stress about it to. The Heavenly's have a mission for you that will bless so many people and will change your life. You are special-enjoy it.
  • Boogen3
    I can relate completely to your entire experience. On February 1st, just six weeks ago, I had a STEMI with a 100% occlusion of my LAD. Having EVERY symptom of a heart attack, I had my son drive me to the hospital which is just 7 minutes from our home. In a matter of minutes I was chewing the four baby aspirin I was given and tried to tell the nurse I wa out of saliva and couldn't swallow them. As she went to get me a sip of water, my son told me my eyes rolled up into my head and I slumped over. Trained in CPR he tried to shake me awake, as did the nurse whom had just walked back into the room. The next thing I remember was seeing my mother at the end of a long narrow tunnel before everything went black again. As I came to it was like turning up the volume on a television very slowly from muffled to extremely loud. Apparently I came to screaming, which I have been told is not uncommon. I remember seeing the EMTs and many nurses in my treatment room and telling them I was scared and didn't want to die. One nurse told me I was okay now and I was being transferred to another hospital. The next thing I remember is someone in the ambulance telling me to "stay with me, talk to me" then the film ends again. I came to in the cath lab but never opened my eyes, pleading with them to help me. I remember someone apologizing for having to shave my groin for the angioplasty and my telling them that I didn't care, to just save my life. When I woke up in the CICU I was told I had a stent put in and I was okay. I didn't know I had been "jumpstarted" twice until I noticed the two slightly painful but very itchy circles on my chest. I finally was able to start cardiac rehab last week but I am completely exhausted both physically and mentally. Nobody in my rehab classes have had my experience of "dying" twice but surviving a STEMI. I have felt completely alone it what I have gone through. My family and friends have been very kind and supportive but they have no clue how devastated I feel. I vacillate between feeling thankful I survived to wondering how and why I survived. Platitudes such as "it just wasn't your time to go" are not helpful; those make me feel sadder and more frightened. I am 58 and had no risk factors or warning signs I would have a massive heart attack, adding to my shock and depression. I realize someday I will feel like "me" again and that some depression is normal after suffering so much physical trauma but until such time I am grateful that a forum like this exists. It is most reassuring to know that there ARE people like me that have gone through and understand what we have experienced, that someday it will get better.
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