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!