Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Listen To Your Body - Heart Disease Kills

As part of the Go Red For Women campaign promoting Heart Disease, I am going to relate my story of dealing with heart disease. First, a little background on my history. I have two physicians in my family so I have been blessed. Secondly, my father has had two heart bypass operations and my big brother had a heart attack at age 37 which led to a double bypass and stents 13 years later.

I wasn't feeling too good one day so I had stayed home from work. Later that day, I had severe chest pain and was unable to catch my breath. I had called my younger brother complaining of the symptoms. He had told me I needed to immediately call my parents and have them take me to the emergency room. I hadn't thought too much about it and thought he had been over reacting but later talked to him again where he had given me the name of an internist to see. Prior to that, I had problems walking up stairs with groceries where I would run out of breath which I thought i had just been carrying too much.

I called the internist on that wednesday and was able to see her on Friday. I was given an ekg and even though that was fine was told I needed to get a stress test and would have that on monday. I took the stress test which I couldn't complete.

On that wednesday morning, I got to work and was totally flushed. My chest pain had become so severe that I just couldn't breathe. I called and left a message for the internist and within 10 minutes had received a call back. They told me that I needed to go to the nearest heart hospital by ambulance as I had failed my stress test.

I started crying and told my supervisors at work that I needed to go to the hospital. I decided I would drive myself and called my younger brother on the way to the hospital telling him what was going on. I was so very scared.

Once I reached the hospital, they hooked me up to all kinds of monitors and told me that I would need to have an angiogram done. I kept telling them that I was supposed to take a trip to San Diego the next day and asking them whether I could get it done when I came back. They said NO.

My parents had arrived and were trying to keep me calm. By this time, they had me pretty doped up. They performed the angiogram about three hours after me arriving at the hospital. They showed my dad the FIVE blockages and said they would perform the surgery on friday. I was still begging them to let me go to San Diego the next day and get it done when I got back. Of course, they told me there was no way I was going anywhere.

I had the surgery on that friday. I was lucky. If I had ignored the signs and not gotten it examined, I probably would have died on my trip to San Diego.