Apr 26
flamered , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

My New Life - Heart Surgery at 45

Story image

The category above is the closest to what was/is going on with my heart.   


Here's my story:

170 days:
14,688,000 seconds:
244,800 minutes:
4080 hours:
170 days:
24 weeks and 2 days:
46.58% of a common year:

Ok, so i am i going to start with a couple small facts that will explain a few things later :-) .
When this happened i was 45 & 6' [(still that height :-) ]

October 16th was a normal day, it was cold & early, we were heading off to school. On the way to the bus stop i felt a shortness of breath while walking. It was cold out & i hadnt put my coat on yet, so thought nothing of it since once i was on the bus i felt better. Though this scene kept recurring throughout my day everytime i went outside & everytime i went inside i was better, so i thought nothing of it.

As i was dropping daughter off at school i told her what was going on & she jokingly said hang in out in a specific area since it has a hospital & replied jokingly that why dont i just hang out in neighborhoods near the fire station.:-) She went to class i went off to do halloween shopping.

Once i was home i felt "normal," daughter & i had dinner, went to bed around 10p. I woke up about an hour later, was feeling cold, so i put on a robe & went & laid on the couch to try to fall back asleep. That didnt work, about half hour to an hour later i wasnt feeling right, so i woke my daughter, she called a nurse hotline & the hotline talked to me & told me i needed to get to an er since there is a family history of heart issues.

We both changed into normal clothes & daughter ordered an uber, one was about 2 minutes away, which is highly unusual for us getting an uber. We went to swedish first hill er. Was seen pretty quickly, probably within 15 minutes.

I explained my day to them, they ran blood tests & found something in my blood that usually is found only in the heart. They then ran a test for the levels of that & it was 1.8, they told that a 2.0 was a heart attack. I was really close to having a heart attack, :-( I was then told that i would be transferred to cherry hill since that is where the heart specialists are. They took x-rays, did a ct scan, many iv's & blood draws & heart ultrasounds. Spent many hours in the intial er exam room, after shift change they moved me to a private wait room.

My daughter left around 7a, she had to go to school & needed breakfast. She hadnt had any sleep & had a 4hr school day ahead of her.

We got the first hill er around 1am, & i got to the cherry hill campus around 2p.

Once there they started the gambet of tests. More blood work, iv's, xrays, ct scans & ultrasounds.
It was decided to do an exploratory thing through my veins in my arm & if they found anything they would fix it if possible. During the procedure the vein in my arm started spasming & they couldnt continue, but they were able to find out that there was a blockage.

Though after my vein spasmed during the earlier procedure they decided that they wanted to make sure it was a blockage & not just a spasm, so another ct scan was ordered to make sure. 
They put in another iv & since my veins are not easily found they used an ultra sound thing to make sure they got the right vein.

Went down to ct scan, procedure started as normal then all the sudden there was a pressure in my arm & the procedure was stopped, cause it turns out the vein popped & my arm was filling with contrast fluid.

They decided to wait 24 hours before doing another one, luckily this one went as it was supposed even though i was terrified of a repeat.

It was determined that it was a blockage, not a spasm, & that i needed to decide between a stent or surgery. I didnt want that choice. Luckily for me the next day the cardiologist told me that after talking with the heart surgeons & stent guy that there was no option & that the only way to fix it was surgery, though i was not happy about having surgery i was relieved to no longer have to make a choice.

Two or three days later i was to have surgery, no time to prepare..... It was scary.

Very early sunday morning they came to get me ready for surgery. It was scheduled for 7am, Around 5am i was taken down to the pre-op room, it was cold down there. I remember being wheeled towards the operating room, dont remember the operating room at all.
The next thing i remember is being in the icu. Nurse made a comment about who they found, my daughter, then they started taking out the breathing tube, which was very unpleasant (since i have very sensitive gag reflex).

I remember getting out of bed like once or twice (maybe), dont remember much else about the icu, cept a few times when the nurses attempted to make me comfortable. & the heated massaging leg things. I remember telling my daughter that those reminded me of a cat jumping on the bed & doing the kneading thing. :-)

Then i was moved back to the 4th floor, dont know how many days had passed since surgery or how long i was in icu. The first day i was back on the 4th floor i stayed in bed all day, i think the second day i was in the chair for at least one meal, then after that i was in the chair for most of the day. Dont remember what day they started me walking, walking hurt A LOT. Then they started offering me xanax prior to each walk, along with pain meds.

Around thursday or friday doctors started coming around to tell me i was going home, or someplace where there will be someone to take cared of me. I wound up going to a nursing facility since my daughter was gone around 12hours a day & they felt that i wouldnt be safe by myself for that amount of time each day. I spent a week at the facility, didnt really care for it, & i dont think it really helped me either.

I was finally released home on November 6. On the 13th & 20th i had doctor appointments, that i went to on my own.

Going out just once a week was really tiring, thats all i could handle. For the first few months my daughter did shopping & meal prep.

During the 3 weeks i was in the hospital & the nursing facility it was very stressful for my daughter who was working 6+ hours a day & going to school for around 6 hours a day as well. She was quite stressed & worried, she had to take care of the home as well as school & work.

I did go to a convention 5 weeks post-op, it was very tiring, but we had planned on going at least 6 months prior. I survived! Then the same week was my daughters birthday, & we went out & did our usual birthday shenanigans & she had fun!

I survived thanksgiving, her birthday & christmas. Luckily there were no appointments during that time. It was recommended that i start cardiac rehab around thanksgiving, besides only being 4 weeks post-op it was also the holidays & i wasnt going to even try to do all of that that early in recovery.

One thing i kept hearing in my 3 weeks of care was that i will heal quickly because i am "young" & every time i stood up i was told i was tall. There was an instance in the icu when two male nurses helped me from bed to chair & didnt say anything, I told them what the others usually say & they told me that they were thinking but didnt feel the need to say it cause i probably already knew. :-)

I started cardiac rehab January 17th, two days after my birthday i go twice a week.
I have seen the cardiologist once since then & my primary doctor twice. 
We are working on finding anxiety/depression meds to help mood. We tried zoloft which made me feel like total crap.

My life has changed since surgery.
I used to do things daily, like go to school with my daughter, then i would do shopping or other things.
Now my outings consist of going to rehab twice a week. :-(
I feel unmotivated.

While in the hospital my mom & step dad visited twice, a friend visited once & I think my daughter visited me around 3 times. My mom & step dad are also survivors, my mom (in 2016 had a heart procedure, a stent i think) & about 5 years ago my step drove himself to the hospital during a heart attack. Lack of visitors was depressing.

Sorry this is so long.... maybe i should stop for now.....

  • AHAASAKatie

    Thank you for sharing this with us! Please do not worry about how much you write, we are here to read it and be supportive of you. Have you talked with your doctor about how you are feeling? I know it is hard, but one of the best things you can do is build a relationship with your medical team that allows you be honest about your emotional and mental health.  

    We are here for you and I encourage you to read the other survivor stories and know that you are not alone. 

    Best Katie 

  • stellawalker

    I'm having heart surgery as well, in a couple of days! Mines not quite the same as your stepdads. In any case, any open surgery is exceptionally dangerous. Write My Essay For Me. My doc disclosed to me I have a 97% possibility of surviving this surgery.

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