Nov 22
Michelle1974 , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Waiting to feel lucky to be alive

My story in a nut-shell-- I'm a 42 year old mother of 11-year-old twins and going through a painful divorce. I've wanted to come through this difficult time healtheir and stronger, but my body keeps working against me.  For several months I'd been feeling very tired, weak, and generally un-well. I like to exercise but rarely could make it through a small workout anymore, and I was gaining weight even though I eat pretty healthy (okay, so I do eat sweets and drink red wine, but in moderation!). I have thyroid disease and was quick to blame that and all the stress. Labs showed that my triglicerides were really high, but they've fluctuated along with my thyroid levels in the past. 

Then 3 weeks ago suddenly my throat, chest, and shoulders started burning and my arms ached. I was about to have a co-worker take me to the ER, but it subsided after a while, and I thought maybe it was a panic attack. I had an EKG done, which was normal. This happened 2 more times through that week, but the 3rd time it got worse, the burning turning into pressure and pain. I called 911 and was taken to the ER. Both the paramedics and ER dr said, given the EKGs, my age, medical, and family history, it was probably nothing. But then my triponin levels came back at a 1.6, and I was admitted to the cardiac floor. By morning my triponin was over 23 so they rushed me to the cath lab.

Turns out I had a 90% blockage in a small artery, and when the dr went to put in a stent the artery began tearing towards my heart. He was able to stop it with 3 more stents, and the rest of my arteries and heart looked good. I was discharged after 3 days on a whopping regimen of aspirin, blood thinners, cholesterol, and blood pressure meds. I've been pretty shaken up over the whole thing, but I didn't fully realize how close I'd come to dying until my follow-up appointment today when the dr said there's nothing worse than a young mother coming in walking and talking and dying on the table.

I'm usually a pretty positive person, and I guess I should feel like I've been given a new lease on life, but I'm just so sad and scared and over-whelmed. I'm frustrated that my prior healthy efforts weren't enough, and that now I need to be even more vigilant when really I feel like spending some time camped out on my couch watching bad TV with a bottle of wine and a pan of brownies. Nothing like divorce, a few heart-attacks, and enough pills to choke a horse to make you feel old and as if your life is over.

Even though I'm not in a good place right now, reading some of the posts here has given me hope of thriving after a heart attack (eventually). 

Thanks for reading!
  • dphilli42
    I'm really sorry you're going through all of this. That's a lot for one person to handle. I pray that you will find comfort and your life will return to "normal" soon. I understand completely the depression and anxiety that comes with a heart attack at a young age. I'm 34 and had a minor attack back in September that required a stent in a 70% blocked LAD artery. I, too, felt like I was in pretty good health. I mean, I did drink too much, didn't always eat the healthiest, and had packed on some lbs recently, but you always think of heart attacks and strokes to be a "old person problem" or at least I did. My cholesterol was high but not "dangerously" high from everything I had been told. Just goes to show it can hit anyone. I was a college athlete and worked out a ton in my 20's. As my 30's hit I didn't do near as much cardio and did pretty much strictly weight lifting. You'll get back in the swing of things soon. It's been almost 9 weeks since my procedure and I am working out every day. I can run 5 miles at a pretty good (8:45-9:00) pace and do very well. That's WAY better than I was before my stent procedure. Not sure what all medicines you're on, but I know for me, the one I have the most problem with is the Brilinta/Asprin combo. I get random bruises all the time... I got a nasty one on my abdomen right now that I couldn't tell you where it came from!! Frustrating, but part of the deal I guess. Stay positive and know that even though it may not feel like it right now, your life will get back to normal and you will put this behind you. You may have to eat a little healthier, exercise a bit more, and not get as stressed out.. but hey, we could all benefit from those lifestyle changes. I think of it like this... even though I have buddies that ate way worse than I did, exercised way less than I did.... they all sit there and talk about "Man... I really need to eat better and work out more." Well, unfortunately I was kind of forced into it, but I'm doing what everyone KNOWS they should be doing! And I'll be healthier in the long run for it. This site has helped me out a lot. I haven't commented a whole lot, but I read everyone's posts and they help me through the day at times. Good luck to you!
  • Michelle1974
    Thank you for your kind words! I really appreciate what you said about us needing to be healthier anyway- that's a good perspective. And it gives me hope to hear that you're faster now then before. It's not as if I've been feeling great
  • mingo1
    I also had an blood vessel that was totally blocked and doubled back on itself. They call it the widow maker and could not no anything for it. Luckily, all my other vessels were ok. Scary being in a coma for four days any many shocks back to life as my electrical system went nuts. Defibrillator three months later and also a ton of medications. BUT, that was in 1993 and I am still kicking and do most all things I did before. I have had to have some ablations to correct the electrical issues, but have been really good over the last few years with no shocks. Sacred...yes and no. If I dwell on it too much, I get depressed and mad. If I find other things to do, I am in a really good place. I have learned to meditate for short periods, eat right, keep "most" of my weight down and do some praying. 1993-2016 has been a really good road and I expect the road to continue without many curves. I have also learned to color very detailed pictures and it helps take my mind off everything and the time flies. Give it a try. I had not colored since fifth grade and thought it would be a pain. I just finished a cityscape with over 1000 little houses. Keep up your good work and just know that your God or higher power must have a goal for you! I give thanks to everyone every day and enjoy life. LIVE STRONG!! Good holidays to you.
  • Elizabeth17
    Hi There! Although I have not had a heart attack I have survived a stroke at 42 and a bi-femoral aorta bypass at 53. You must give yourself time to go through what is really the grieving process. It is so frustrating not being able to do what you used to do, but believe it or not you will eventually get there. You should talk to a therapist or counselor - you have experienced a great deal of loss in a short period of time. Don't discount what stress has done to your body. I had my stroke while going through a separation and divorce also. It took me a long time to realize that I had been taking care of everybody but me and I paid the price. You will be fine - just accept that its going to take time. You have been through a major life change and faced losing your life - only people who have been through it can understand - this support network is a great place for you to meet and talk with other survivors! Love you little sister!
  • ActiveLarry
    The wine may soothe, but the alcohol is not otherwise beneficial. Oxidized LDL and damage that it can do to artery walls, disrupt GOOD cholesterol function and more means that you need to adhere to a diet very low in fat and very high in anti-oxidant rich foods. Because of my extreme heart disease, I rarely stray off my diet, and am well recovered, but aware it is how I live, not something that can change. I primarily drink pomegranate juice or grape juice, and use herbs or spices in most dishes. In oatmeal, I add dark raisins, dried cherries and blueberries, cinnamon and even a spoonful of dried parsely. At Subway, no cheese, no mayo, but always black pepper and oregano. Mustard has tumeric, and chicken breast is a good niacin source. Even one meal with fat in it gives me chest pain in only a few hours. For me, there are no healthy oils. The Pritikin website supports that. Exercise has to be initiated slowly, based on what you tolerate now, not on previous capabilities. Life will get getter. But you need to be doing all the right things for that to happen. Doctors know almost no patients do everything they should. Don't be typical and suffer for it. Here is hoping you can pull off your own miracle. Larry
  • Michelle1974
    Wow-- thank you all for your support and inspiring words! It gives me such hope! I know that eventually I'll find acceptance of the new way I need to live and will hopefully thrive as well as you all obviously are.
  • Mel-WI
    Michelle, Thank you for sharing your story, that takes a lot of strength. I did not have a heart attack but survived a stroke at the age of 36 recently and have had to endure the recovery, life changes, emotional scars, and ongoing health issues as a single woman. It's not easy some days, but you have two children to keep moving forward for. I know... easier said than done. LizaJane59 is giving some wise, sage advise that I am going to take myself. You too have had to adjust to a lot on your's not easy. I too am a typically a very positive person and my experience has left me changed and a bit lost. Together we can all work through our difficulties and find some normalcy in our lives. I hope you are able to find some peace and stability in all that is going on. It's a lot to adjust to... and unfortunately there is no going back to the way life used to be. We must move forward. And one day we will see the reason why this happened. Don't forget you're a strong woman & mother... together we can all get through these tough times.
  • Mike Bailey
    Mike Bailey,
    Michelle, when our lives change as rapid as a heart malfunction causes it is though to move forward. You have a double dose because of your personal situation. As you move forward make sure to take time to handle both. If you do not handle the emotions from your personal situation it will cause problems with your heart condition. I am a big believer in support groups. Surrounding yourself with other people that have had similar experience will help a lot. The big help for me following my heart problem was cardiac rehab. The structure and monitoring really helped get me away from felling sorry for my self for allowing it to happen to daily working towards a stronger heart. The added benefit was the support from the other people going through rehab. Be strong and give those twins a big hug from a professional Grandfather!!
  • shirleymom
    Dear Michelle, Oh I know how you feel. Twelve years ago I was feeling a lot like you and my doctor told me it was stress. On April 10, 2004, I had a massive heart attack and 3 emergency stents. I had another heart attack, and six weeks later, I had open heart surgery and six bypasses. Yes, SIX! I was 57. I thought my life was over because who ever heard of six bypasses??? Well, I turned 70 yesterday and feel really great. I am lucky to have the great medical people I do. Things get better. Eat right, take your meds, and walk a lot. You will do great. You just need to be patient with yourself. Love, ShirleyMoM
  • Michelle1974
    Thank you Shirleymom, Mike, Mel-WI, and LizaJane59 for your comfort and advice! Oh, and happy B-day Shirley-- that's awesome! I think you all are so right about stress and emotional pain reeking havoc on our health, which is the hardest part for me to manage right now. But I will rely on support groups and counseling to help me move forward. Mike, I appreciate what you said about cardiac rehab. I'm signed up to start next month, and I've been worried about the time commitment it requires, but it sounds like it could be worth it.
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