I'm a survivor and a fighter!In 2008, at age 59, I had a heart attack. Before that time, I was reasonably healthy despite having an autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome. I was trim, never smoked, and fairly active, participating in ballroom dancing, tai chi and walking regularly, so the heart attack came as a complete surprise. My husband was out of town and I thought I was just having a stomach problem so pretty much ignored my pain all day until a friend had to rescue me and take me to the emergency room that night. I recovered and though I tired more easily, was able to go back to doing all the things I enjoyed, but because I ignored my symptoms I was left with an ejection fraction of 40%.
I did well for a long time but this past year, I had back-to-back trips to the ER that ultimately resulted in my being diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Initial tests revealed a very low EF that my cardiologist said might require a heart pump, or even a transplant. I was very discouraged and afraid that at 68 I had reached the end of the line. Fortunately, I transferred to a heart clinic whose doctors and staff had a very positive attitude. They made a point of telling me that I could get better. They modified and increased my heart medications and introduced me to a fantastic cardiac rehab program, in which I continue to participate 3 times a week. The recent, wonderful news is that my EF has recovered to 40% again!
I have put in the hard work needed to get back to this point and it has been worth every painful minute. There have been a lot of ups and downs in the past year but with the help of VERY supportive family and friends and encouraging doctors, nurses, and exercise therapists, I am back to living my life. Since my heart attack in 2008, I have lived to see the marriages of both my children and the birth of my first grandchild. I am grateful every day to still be a part of their lives and I look forward to celebrating my 9th survival anniversary this year!