Mar 13
mamalyss , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog


50 y.o. femaie, workaholic, high stress job.

I had been coughing for some time.  Went to PCP, got antibiotics and cough supressants.  Didn't help.  Took another course of antibiotics.  No help.

It was a Saturday morning about two months ago (January) and I decided to go to the urgi-care center because I heard myself wheezing and gurgling. The doctor put the stethoscope to me and said "Your lungs are clear."  I asked how could that be if I could hear it with my own ears and no stethoscope.  He wrote me a prescription for prednisone.  That evening, I went out to dinner but barely ate.  I just wasn't hungry.  The prescription said "Take with food" so I didn't take any pill since I hadn't eaten.

I was up all night.  I'm in healthcare and know all the "back stories" - so I'm not a fan of hospitals (who is, actually?)  I had every excuse in the book not to go - "change of shift time," "med administration time," "lunch break time."  I decided at 9:30am on Sunday that it was my time - and presented in the ER.  By that time, I couldn't catch my breath long enough to even spell my name.  Coughing and coughing.

They triaged me directly into the critical care area of the ER.  But, I was a walk-in, and I was walking just fine.  The ER doctor looked at me and said to the admitting RN "That's the patient?  Put her in the hallway."  (NY hospitals are very overcrowded.)

Within 5 minutes, the coughing started and again, I sounded like I was hyperventilating.  At that moment, the doctor moved me into an ER room and they started all of the tests, chest x-ray, blood work, CT...

He came back and said "First, I don't know how a doctor could tell you that you didn't have pneumonia - it's full blown.  Second, I'm concerned that you may have a pulmonary embolism.  

I told him I don't think in the negative, so let's just stick with pneumonia.

Soon after that, he said the tests started to come back and I didn't have a PE, but my enzymes were high.  

I was then in the ICU.  

Then, the echo.

Then, the cath lab, where I joked with the doctor "I'm waiting."  "Waiting for what?"  "Waiting for you to say 'beautiful.'  

Then the stent in the LAD.  Fully blocked.  He looked at me and said "Not so beautiful."

Then, the news:  "You have had several 'silent heart attacks' with the most recent being within two weeks of today.  Your ejection fraction is 20%."  I had no idea what he was saying.  What does that mean?  WHAT did I have?  WHEN did I have it?  WHY didn't I know it?  I work every day - no shortness of breath, no signs/symptoms. I'm in healthcare - nobody around me had any clue or noticed anything different.   Yeah, I'm tired, but who isn't?  

After he explained everything, I was pretty sure I was going to have a heart attack that I actually felt.  SHOCK is an understatement.  

Next thing I know, I am fitted for the life vest (which is another story itself - that thing is making me psychotic with the alarm going off that it's not 'touching me' properly when it feels like it's crazy glued to my body!)  And I am given a fistful of pills.  Mind you, the most medication I took before was the occasional antibiotic and Tylenol PM.  

OMG - I'm 50.  I have two kids.  WHAT is this??  

Genetic?  I'm sure. Mother, grandfather, great uncle - all died of MI.  All between 61 and 69.  But I'm FIFTY.  This is not supposed to happen to me.  I am only halfway through my life as I intend it.  

Major changes?  Yes.  Scary?  Yes.  Praying every day that when I go back for the next echo in April, there's enough improvement that I won't need an ICD...YES.  

Glad to have found this site - YES!  Reading through the stories make me realize I'm not alone in this.  You understand the major life change I am going through - and the confusion about how this happened.  

Thanks for sharing your stories with me...a newbie.  I'm learning from all of you.

  • Lace
  • mikjo
    Wow! What a story and thank you for sharing it. That is so scary. I wish you the best.
  • Raker
    Sorry to heart about your experience. Do you have a support group? You said you have children. Are they still at home? I was 50 when I was diagnosed with congested heart disease. I had one child at home and one several hours away. I was already a widow. So our framily had had its tragedies already. I had an EF of 13. I got to wear the bed for 4 months. And it would scare me almost every day because as you said it didn't like how it was attached to my body or interacted with my clothing negatively and would go off. I'm a teacher, this would frighten my students. Then came the cath where they found absolutely nothing! Everything was beautiful except my heart was humongous! This was caused from chemo I had ten years prior for cancer. I could tell my doctor doing my cath was physically upset at these results of the cath. If he had found a blockage he could have fixed me; without a blockage all they could do is replace my heart. That is a whole different ball game. I quit work, qualified for a transplant, was put on the transplant list, received a new heart! It hasn't been easy. The meds have caused me to quit my job a second time. Doctors are getting the meds straightened out so I am getting better again and am finding a new life for myself. Emotionally I go up and down!! But I am alive to tell my kids" I love you"! I wish you the best. I have prayed for you.
  • kimk
    Sorry to hear about your health problems. I hope you don't need an ICD, but if you do, it's not the end of the world. I'm a 53-year-old female who had an ICD with pacemaker implanted 1 1/2 years ago and have had no problems with it - with the surgery, or during recovery, or now 17 months later. Most days I forget I have it. It has not affected my lifestyle at all. I'm still able to golf, lift weights, and do anything I did before. Best of luck to you.
  • YukonDenis0n
    Thanks for sharing your recent gift of better health with your health care team. I stretched my luck until last August with the first adventure of the clogged right coronary artery that woke me at 6 in the wildfire smoky morning, telling myself I pulled a rig cage muscle with an asthma attack, waiting to phone the cardiology clinic, having my husband drive me to the Emergency department after lunch! We are so fortunate for vigilant health care teams! From October to March, I did cardiac rehabilitation classes interrupted by some more episodes and bronchitis recently. Now it's spring with great sunlight, encouraging me to exercise and to garden and to spend more time with family, friends, and projects! I hope your new adventures are great with wonderful health!
  • mamalyss
    Thanks for your kind words and concern. I am glad to be on this board and learning more about my "new life."
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