Feb 3
lindak , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

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!
  • Graymatter
    WONDERFUL to hear Linda!! The massive stroke I suffered and survived came also as a complete surprise,as I'd recently left an emergency room visit after 2 c.a.t-scans AND a magnetic resonance imaging scan,and a prognosis that the scans all returned:"negative"for any abnormalities,so I thought the IMMENSE sinus headaches were an"anomaly of some sort until I emerged from a 2 week coma,to learn an abcess grew SO large on my brain,that it"wedged"my brain halfway 'cross my cranium!! My family was told,that I'd probably NOT survive,and in the event a miracle occurred and I DID manage to live,the MOST I would achieve was a vegetative state the balance of my life,and I would NEVER take another single STEP on my own!! Yet in 2011,I walked UNassisted,starting at dusk from E 9 Mile Road @ I-94 to Tireman Avenue@Wyoming without incident!!
  • ActiveLarry
    Congratulations on your successful recovery. Rehab is not something that ends after a few months. Add slightly more time or effort about monthly, and sneak in a few more good walks if you can. People with best longevity are able to easily walk at 3 miles per hour, when they walk. Any gets your heart rate up, be sure to work up to it with 5-10 minutes warm up. Active Larry
  • AHA/ASA Sarah Ismail
    AHA/ASA Sarah Ismail,
    It is so great to hear your story of hard work and fighting through it all to get where you are today! Keep you the good work and positive attitude! Best, Sarah
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