Aug 7
krs1221
krs1221 , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

My anniversary!

I'm 41 years old, have no history of serious health issues - that is until August 6, 7, and 8 of 2015.  Those were the days I was admitted to the hospital and informed I was having a heart attack. One year later, and a whirlwind of emotions and confusion, I've decided to finally share my story, something I've kept from even my nearest and dearest.

One year ago, I thought I had the flu or some sort of panic attack or a combination of the two. I had a headache that wouldn't stop, serious pain in my shoulder all the way down my back, fatigue and just an overall feeling of being worn down. I attributed a lot to stress, which turns out I was half right. I left the house on August 6, 2015 around 6pm with plans to head to the emergency room, some mild chest pains stirred something in me just go, with every intention of getting an anitbiotic and carrying on with life. I kissed my kid and said "be back soon, feed the dog". Nothing eventful, no movie like clutching of the chest.

When I arrived at the hospital and reported some mild chest pains, I received my first EKG - which was perfectly normal. When the blood tests came back indicating an elevated Troponin level - life began to quickly spiral. I was told I was actively in cardiac arrest. I had a parade of "specialists" telling me what was happening to me, a thousand different tests - MRI, Ultrasounds - all results coming back normal. The only indicator of a heart attack was that pesky Troponin level creeping up. I had a PA sit in my room and explain to me that I was having a myocardial infarction as a result of a history of high blood pressure. The fact that I was explaining that my BP has always been in the normal to low range didn't seem to be met with acceptance as he further explained "well, this is what is happening". I spent the night with all of these voices telling me what was happening, until I was informed I was being transported by ambulance to the heart center. 

What I did next - I do not suggest to anyone at any time. But I voluntarily checked myself out of the hospital with a promise to report to the heart center at 2:30pm that day. I had to get home, my phone was dead my child was alone - I couldn't understand what anyone was saying to me and why no one was listening - the rooms got small and my panic sent me straight out the door. I drove home, hugged my child, called in friends and family - and then I cried. I cried so hard from so deep that I knew neighbors could hear, and I didn't care. I prayed, and cried some more. And then I felt peace, and unbelievable calm. I got up, got a ride to the heart center - and received a heart cath.

As I laid in the prep area waiting for the procedure, again I had several nurses come in wwith their handy dandy suggestions - did I really look like I was in any place to hear your lists? Fast forward to the heart cath  -I heard my cardiologist say "this wasn't a heart attack, no signifcant blocks, I'm pulling out". Done

I was then informed since the procedure was done so late, I would need to stay overnight, but would be released the next morning. The next morning, lots more helpful handy dandy to do lists from people who didn't know my name, a visit from the caridiologist who I asked point blank was this a heart attack and he responded "the blood tests indicate you had a heart attack". Ummm, not what I asked.

Following this hospital fiasco, I followed up immediately with my doctor and a referral to  cardiologist in his network. FINALLY, answers! So technically, yes it was a heart attack - but one of unknown cause with no damage. I'm lucky and I'm blessed beyond all measure. And while yes, losing wiehgt and lifestyle changes are necessary - it was confirmed that listening to the patient could have helped to come to this conclusion with less frustrations and fright. I am on medications to make sure I stay where I want to be, and I'm working on personal improvements including stress reduction: these are a must for anyone preventing or recovering.

Here are my lessons after one year: I am a survivor, doctor's that listen are vital, Physician Assistants shouldn't make assumptions and disgnose without listening to the patient and it's hard to forgive words spoken in th moment, life is short and precious and no one is immune to tragedy. Most importantly, I've been scared and hurt for the past year; always afraid of what "that pain" may be, when death will come for me. Having a heart attack is frightening and I wasn't aware that I was allowed to be sad and mad because initially I felt blamed - if only I had eaten more salad. But you do have the right to feel how you feel and to take personal responisbility on your own terms. You have the right to be empowered and educated and to accept nothing less. You have the right to get back up and live with freedom, and that's what I'm doing today.

Wishing you all a life with a full heart!
3 Comments
  • janestock
    janestock,
    Just wanted to know if you are a female or male cardiac patient. My husband was released from cardiac care at our nearby hospital on Thursday and was told during his stay that males and females may experience different symptoms of cardiac arrest. (His was nausea complicated by stomach upset which caused him to be dehydrated. We called 911, which turned out to be a good option since I didn't even know where the ER is in our hospital complex.) After a stress test which showed some abnormality, he eventually had a heart cath which found blockage in one main artery. This was followed a day later by another heart cath to insert a stent. Also, since he has Type II Diabetes, his case was complicated by the use of the dye during the heart cath. He, too, wanted to leave the hospital during this time of waiting on tests/heart cath. I am glad I understood and allowed him to vent.
  • YukonDenis0n
    YukonDenis0n,
    Thanks for your anniversary remembrance! Last Monday, this grandmother woke with what I thought was an asthma attack insulted by wildfire smoke from our open bedroom windows. My left sided chest pain under my ribcage was irritating. I forgot my Qvar inhaler the night before and the dental "snore-killer" appliance. Feelng more tired this summer, sometimes I would hit the pillow before taking my meds. After several phone calls with no call back, I called the patient advocate to help me contact a cardiology nurse who gave me two choices: come to the cardiology clinic or go to the ER. My husband drove me to the ER. Yup, the troponin level and the EKG tattled on me. Not asthma, but a heart pump problem required hospital admission. On Tuesday, the night nurse told me that the stress cardiogram test was changed to a heart catherization ASAP. I had one ten years ago so I wasn't alarmed. I woke with two stents in a teeny tiny hard working heart artery and a sore groin. What a way to h ave phone calls from our four adult children and flowers from the family! Not all of the chest pain disappeared. After a second trip to urgent care and an emergency room with oxygen, I restarted my respiratory nebulizer treatments, bought an oximeter, started a new platelet STP pill, and carry nitroglycerin tablets with me. My primary doctor is managing my lower oxygen respiratory health this month. I have to wait til mid September to meet with the cardiologist. I hope all of the new pills make a positive difference. I'm thankful for the American Heart Association and for the American Lung Association.
  • krs1221
    krs1221,
    Thank you for your comments beautiful people and sharing your stories with me. @YukonDenisOn: best wishes on your recovery. Fingers crossed and prayers going out that your new medications give you good results. @janestock: I am female. Kudos for listening to your husband, that kind of support is so appreciated when you're lost. Best wishes.
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