Listening to my Body Saved My Life... Twice!
I flew under the radar because I didn’t have typical indicators except family history.
I suppose that is a big “except”. Despite always disclosing my family history of heart attacks at a young age and telling my doctor something was wrong with me and that I was always tired they ran all the bloodwork for anything and everything and found nothing.
Well after about 2 years of that fatigue I had a heart attack. I was 40 In October 2017 I was laying on the couch. Thought it was gas or heartburn but couldn’t get comfortable which I had experienced before but it went away. This time it didn’t go away.
I remember learning about some of the symptoms were different for women. Quick search online pretty much confirmed what I thought so remembered: pain traveling up my neck to my jaw, discomfort in my shoulder. I looked in the mirror and knew I was getting weaker and it was time to go to the hospital.
Aspirin was on my list to buy and I kept forgetting. Luckily my parents live around the corner (literally), and because my dad is also a survivor, I knew they would have aspirin. Told my husband to, “Call my parents, tell them I need Aspirin. We are on the way to the hospital because I think I’m having a heart attack.” About 30 seconds later, my mom handed my several aspirin and yelled into the car “Chew it!!” I went to town crunching on many unflavored aspirin. Yuck! However, the blockages in my LAD were really bad so I am lucky that helped save my life.
The first doc thought I was having a panic attack. Told him not a panic attack. I was having a heart attack.
Two stents saved my life. After that I was still having chest pain. Back to the cath lab for a second procedure. They found blockages that would require a bypass.
I had a triple CABG in Dec of 2017. Early fall of 2018, I started getting really tired again. Talked to the doc a few times since that was the only symptom I had before. I listened to my body. Something wasn’t right I just knew it. Had that conversation for a few months and then mid February 2019 while stretching (I ride an exercise bike about 45 mins a day) I started to get really nauseous and sweating profusely.
That inner voice said if you get on that bike you might fall off. I listened to my body and called the doc the next morning. I Told my Cardiologist it was time to go back in, I was scared to exercise. On February 28th 2019 they discovered one of my bypasses failed, and they put in 2 more stents.
Then I started connecting all the different seemingly random things that had happened -symptoms that I didn’t put together. On a couple days I got sick in the morning and then felt fine. Didn’t think anything of it. Sweating more than normal when not doing anything strenuous.
Every time I hear someone mention something about their heart beat seeming off, a woman “saying my legs are saying keep going on the bike but my heart is saying stop” I say something. You don’t get messages any more clearly. Go to the doctor. No, chest pain isn’t normal while exercising.
We need to know the symptoms and make note of times we experience them. I was lucky to survive my widow maker. When you have time to reflect you start to remember the seemingly random unrelated indicators that were actually related. So the moral of the story? Know the symptoms and listen to your body!
Thanks for reading! Jenn