July 20, 2014
One week after delivering my second child, at age 35, I head a heart attack. My left coronary artery severely dissected. There were no symptoms leading up to my event. I was just sitting on the sofa and all of a sudden my arms started to hurt and I felt this wave of panic sweep over me. I started to sweat and felt dizzy. Luckily, my parents were in town and my husband was home on paternity leave.
I remember trying to “walk off” the strange symptoms to no avail. My main symptom was the crushing pain in both of my arms and I remember just trying to make myself comfortable on my bed. I couldn’t get comfortable and my husband touched my arm and noticed that it was sweaty, but cool. He gave me an aspirin and called 911.
Upon arrival to the hospital (Columbus, OH) I felt such so relieved to be there hoping they could fix whatever was causing my arms to hurt so badly. I had no idea I was having a heart attack!
I was taking to the cath lab and they tried to stent the artery but that wasn’t working. They told my husband it was like pushing a metal ring though a wet kleenex. I just remember asking them if I was going to die and I wanted to be completely sedated as I just couldn’t stand the pain in my arms anymore. My breathing then became “gurgly” and I remember telling them that and that I needed to really be sedated. I was also noticing the pace in the room had really picked up and people seemed frantic. I was then sedated…
When I woke up I was intubated and so thirsty! I had no idea I had just undergone a quadruple bypass and removal of a stent that was trapped in my femoral artery! They had to bypass the dissected artery. It was amazing that I was alive. I almost didn’t make it.
All of this, one week after having a baby was a lot to comprehend. The mental recovery was just as tough as the physical. But, with the great doctors, for whom I am so grateful, cardiac rehab and determination, I recovered! I was running one mile on the treadmill in rehab 10 weeks after surgery. I made that my job, to get better and be stronger than before!
Three years have now gone by and I feel pretty great, minus some chest discomfort occasionally (mostly when I am stressed). Due to this discomfort I had another cath two weeks ago just to make sure everything was ok and I learned that a part of my artery has actually healed and two of the grafts are not being utilized anymore! So this was great news and put my mind at ease. All is good!
In closing, if a SCAD has happened to you, you will recover and your life will go on! The mental part is tough, but reach out to someone, as I did, soon after your event. The person I found on a site and wrote to, really helped me as she was a few years out from her event and it helped me to realize that the future is bright and that others know what you are going through. It was also comforting at the time to know that others have lived years after with no other issues. Take control, get into the Mayo Clinic study, eat right, exercise and get some mental help if you need it.
Thanks for reading my story!