I hesitate to share this, just because I like to keep my life private, but in the spirit that it might save somebody else’s life..here I go.. ::deep breath, clears throat, closes eyes::
On January 29th, 2016, I had a heart attack, yep, you read that right!! I am in my early 40s, with no significant family history or risk factors other than being overweight and stressed…
I will preface the rest of the story by telling you that I am a Paramedic, Registered Nurse, used to teach CPR and ACLS, so basically, I believe I am an expert at ALL things medical (sarcasm) AND I am a horrible patient!!
I discovered that my blood pressure was elevated (168/118) at a routine OB Dr visit, on Tuesday. I made an appointment to see my primary care MD on Friday, worked Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday night, started to have some chest pain which I attributed to having a tough/stressful couple of days at work and not doing so well with the work/life balance. So, like any good denier of health concerns, I took an ambien and went to bed. When I woke up Friday morning the pain was still there, I had zero energy and while I did not have what I consider to be shortness of breath, I felt like if I could only take just a little bit deeper of a breath, that would be great!!
PCP did an EKG, which showed that I was having an infarction (heart attack) so he called 911.
MCHD-EMS (who I used to work for as a Paramedic) responded. The seasoned in charge paramedic actively listened to ALL my BS about why I wasn’t having a heart attack, why I couldn’t go to the hospital, blah, blah, blah… then he said to me: “It’s hard to go from being the provider to being the patient…but it is OUR turn to take care of YOU”. Something about that struck a chord with me, so I went willingly. I could bore you with additional details and funny stories, but essentially, I was admitted for labs, echo cardiogram and nuclear stress test, which I failed as it was showing a narrowing of the LAD (Left Anterior Descending artery). I ended up having a heart cath (PTCA). The cardiologist said that I was lucky to catch it early and there is very little damage to my heart muscle.
There are several people who I want to acknowledge and share how grateful I am for them! My mom Patricia Deardorff Harmon for being my voice of reason and keeping things “normal” for the boys while I was in the hospital.Jeff Hill for keeping me entertained and staying by my side (except when you disappeared after they called a rapid response on me..haha). Marianne Maples Mills for bringing me a hospital survival kit and helping me plan my escape ::evil grin:: and Craig Senglin for coming down from Dallas to help.
I am hoping that by sharing, my friends and family will review the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and most importantly, don’t be dismissive and think that it can’t happen to you.
edited to add: I am feeling GREAT and have made some positive life style changes that I should have made a long time ago!!!!