I’m here to share my experience with you, in hopes of creating awareness and to help inspire you to look into your family genetics and health history. It may just save your life!
I had just been in the hospital, had a stress test, ekg, chest x rays and an echo a few weeks prior. I was still having symptoms of a heart attack, yet, numerous Doctors told me I was fine. Let’s rewind a bit..
I went to Cincinnati to help my mother who had been in the hospital for Atrial Fibrillation. I planned to just stay with her for a week, until she was out of danger. Well, that week turned into a month because she kept going into rapid A -Fib, and I’d have to bring her back into the Emergency Room, each time! The poor thing had to have 3 separate cardio versions ( where they shock your heart back into rhythm)! She ended up in the hospital several times throughout the month of July. I’d go every day and stay with her. It was during coved, July of 2020, so only 1 person was allowed to be with her and once you left, you couldn’t come back, so I’d stay during the visiting hours, every day. ( My siblings graciously allowed me to be the one, since I was living out of town and didn’t get to see her as often. )
I began to notice myself feeling very tired. Then, I began to feel chest pains, my left arm would tingle and go numb and I was getting dizzy. I also became short of breath, but thought it was from running up and down the steps at her house. ( It’s a 4 story home and I’m used to living in a condo with an elevator!) I found myself needing naps whenever I could sneak them in. This was not normal for me, but my family just assumed I was tired and stressed from worrying and taking care of my mother.
After a long month of trips back and forth to the hospital and many nights spent up wondering if /when we should be taking her back to the hospital, she was finally coming home and I was planning to finally fly back to my home. August 2nd, I had just brought my mom home from the hospital that afternoon. We got her settled back home and my brother, Bob and my niece were bringing pizza over to visit and have some family time. We were sitting in the living room , laughing and reminiscing. I wasn’t feeling right, but just kept trying to ignore it. ( My brother had poured us a glass of wine and I never touched mine, that should’ve been the first sign that something was wrong with me, lol! )
Suddenly, my head felt like someone was pushing it down, my left arm was tingling and I felt like everything was in slow motion. I could barely utter the words ” guys, I don’t feel so well”. Luckily my brother didn’t miss a beat, got me into the car and to the E.R within minutes! ( We live very close to Jewish Hospital, so it was quicker than calling 911, in this circumstance.) They immediately gave me meds to prevent a heart attack ( which I now know was about to happen). They did a number of tests and x rays throughout the night and into the next day. I passed the stress test and they found nothing alarming!? They were debating whether to keep me a second night , waiting to see if the Dr. on duty wanted to do something called a Cath. They ended up releasing me the next night with zero explanation of why I was still feeling chest pains and tingling and numbness down my left arm!
2 days later I took my mom to her wonderful cardiologist, Dr. Blake, and while we were with him, we asked him if I could be his patient, too. We told him I had also just been released from the hospital the day before, etc. He agreed to see me the next day. I asked him why I was feeling all of the symptoms, yet, they’re saying nothing is wrong with me? I asked him if there were any other tests, or anything else that it could be? Something is not right with me! He then decided to send me in for another type of test, but I was flying home the next morning, so he wrote me a prescription for the test, instead. He told me I could take it to my cardiologist when I got home to Miami, if I still wasn’t feeling right.
It was so difficult leaving my mom, but I knew I had to get back to my husband and my home. I flew home to be with Jim and our puppies and to take it easy for a bit. I assumed once I got settled in , I’d feel better. I should have gone straight to the cardiologist here, but felt assured, after being in the hospital and passing all of the tests, that I’d be ok. I thought, ” it must be something besides my heart”!
Well, after being home for 10 days, in our relaxing environment that we’ve built together, yet, still having slight “whispers” in my chest, dizziness and occasional hands and arms tingling, I decided to call my cardiologist in Miami.
I went to see him, and his exact words were ” You’re young and healthy. I’m sure you’re fine. You don’t need to have this test done”. I said, ” ok, but I wonder why I have these slight chest pains, dizziness, shortness of breath and tingling in my left hand and arm?! It just doesn’t seem normal “. I wouldn’t back down. Something wasn’t right. He finally said “Ok, there’s a test we can do and there’s two parts to it. The second part is invasive and I don’t want to put you through that, because I don’t think we’re going to find anything. Again, You’re young and healthy. I do these every day. ” I was confused and began questioning myself.
He scheduled me for a Ct scan with iodine. It was a Thursday, so they scheduled me for a precautionary Covid 19 test, on that next Monday. If I passed, the Ct Scan with Iodine test would be Tuesday. I passed the Covid test. The next day, they injected my arm with iodine, which allows them to see inside my arteries. The iodine gives a warm sensation down your body and especially in your groin area. It felt weird, but didn’t hurt. Next, they send you through the Ct machine and take pictures. It’s not that bad of a process. You just have to stay calm and stop breathing when they tell you, so they can get accurate pictures. I was feeling relieved that someone was listening to me and taking action, trying to help me find answers.
Suddenly a female doctor entered the room and asked me if I felt ok. I said yes, and she told me that they were going to do it again. (I should’ve realized then, that something was really wrong. Did they not believe what they saw, so they were going to do it again ?)I went under again, but, this time when I was in the machine, my dad appeared in my mind. His face was clear as day! His presence was so strong, I couldn’t get him out of my head. It was as if he was looking right through me! I truly believe, without doubt, that he was there WITH ME.
I was scheduled to go back to see the Cardiologist the following week. By this time we didn’t think anything could be that bad. They would’ve called right away , if they had seen something, right ? The next week, my husband dropped me off at my cardiologist office and I was just going to run in and hear the results and figure out my next step. He was running to Starbucks and would be right back to pick me up. He reassured me I’d be fine, and didn’t believe anything would be wrong. I went on up to the office. They took me back and I waited for the Cardiologist to come in. He greeted me and I reminded him of why I was there. He looked at the charts, and then looked up at me with glossy eyes. This was obviously the first time he was reading my test results, from 9 days ago! He told me it was not good. My heart sunk. What ?! He began telling me that the test showed that my arteries had a lot of blockage in them. I was shocked and terrified! How could this be? I’m young and healthy, remember ?! I asked if he could please stop talking until I got ahold of my husband. There must be some kind of mistake. I called Jim and he quickly parked the car and they let him back into the room. The Dr. proceeded to tell us that the test results showed 70-90% blockage in 4 different places in the main artery leading to my heart. It also showed 60- 70% in the right artery! That is when he told us he was” shocked” and that I have SEVERE CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE ! We all just kind of sat there. Was I going to die? What now?He told us that sometimes when they actually get in there, it could be less. We left feeling numb. I asked to go to my favorite sushi restaurant. I think it was a combination of not wanting to go home and have it be real, perhaps having my last meal and a little bit of wanting to eat healthy (as if that were going to change anything, now )!
I was admitted to the hospital and they worked on the right artery the first day day and placed a large stent in it, as it ended up being much WORSE, than the test had shown. It was 90% blocked, not 60-70% like they thought! I was placed on bed rest in the hospital, for 24 hours and they planned to go back in through the left side of the groin, the next day, and address the main artery. ( That had shown 4 blockages, at 80-90%. )
They took me down again the next morning. This time I felt fear. As I lay there on the operating table, tears came spilling out of my eyes. A male nurse bent over and whispered in my ear,” Do you pray ?” I shook my head, Yes! He prayed over me.
Well, my fear was justified. They had some complications, as the artery had closed, while they were in there, trying to place another stent. I could feel my chest burning and my head about to explode! I guess I didn’t have enough anesthesia, because that feeling was terribly scary, painful, horrible! I tried to speak, but my mouth felt so heavy and dry. I couldn’t get anything out , but a moan of ” burrrnnn”! I could hear them having issues and I heard them instruct heavier sedation. They had to call in a whole additional team to help. I am so lucky to have survived! Apparently, my heart was going into spasms, they couldn’t get 1 of the stents in and the blood wasn’t flowing. They ended up being able to insert 3 stents in those arteries and get my blood flowing. Thank you God! I had an amazing Cardiologist, as well as prayer chains going from Cincinnati to Maine, California and Florida! I am truly blessed and grateful to be alive! The doctor told us we literally could not have waited any longer! ( Yes, the same Dr. that told me I was young, healthy and probably fine. ) This all happened so quickly, and I am still in disbelief!
My hope is that I can inspire people to keep saying something to anyone who will listen, if you’re not feeling right. No matter what the Doctors may think, or tests say, If you sense something in your body, pursue answers. I wouldn’t be alive to tell my story if I hadn’t!
I’m so lucky I was at my parents house, when I first felt these symptoms. Knowing what we know now, My brother saved my life that night! Isn’t it crazy that the hospital sent me home and none of those tests showed anything wrong with me ?! Even though the tests didn’t show what was going on inside of my arteries, it lead to me questioning further. (Because you don’t have that many symptoms and nothing wrong with you!) Thank goodness my Cardiologist did the test anyway, even though he didn’t think they’d find anything wrong, because I wouldn’t be alive. I hope me living and getting my answers will help you or someone else find your answers.
Please take the time to learn your family genetics. Find out your grandparents, as well as, your parents health history. The gene pool is a tricky thing. Also, women don’t seem to have or show as many symptoms as men, so ladies, pay close attention to yourselves!
I’m still feeling not feeling 100%, yet, but feeling more grateful for every breath I take and every morning I awake! I also feel like I got closure with my dad. We lost him March 6th, 2018. God rest his soul. He just didn’t wake up. None of us know for sure what happened. They listed it as a heart attack but it always haunted me, not knowing for sure. Now that I know I have severe Coronary artery disease, and my dad “came to me” during that procedure, I feel that I know what happened to him… and it was about to happen to me! He was there letting me know. I have since been able to grieve differently. I feel more at peace and feel he is at peace and in a safe place, now.
Again, please learn your family health history, go to the doctor regularly, drink filtered water and try to eat and live as healthy as possible! If you know anyone who isn’t feeling well, please encourage them to see as many doctors as they have to, until they get their answers. It just might save their life!
George Friant says
Joy, I suffered my first heart attacks when I was just 41. I’m very fortunate to still be here. One thing that I learned early on is you have to be your own advocate. You were indeed fortunate, your persistence paid off. I hope you have been able to attend a cardiac rehab class. It was critical in my understanding of coronary artery disease. I had refused to even believe that I was afflicted. After 8 weeks of sessions I was mentally prepared to accept and deal with it appropriately.
One lesson I learned was that females often don’t have symptoms that are similar to males, symptoms are often overlooked or attributed to other problems, often as back pain. Statistically women are more likely to perish from heart attacks because they are not taken seriously by some medical professionals. But if treated properly you will have a long life ahead of you. One woman at my rehab class had 11 stents, she was well into her 70’s and as positive as anyone I’ve ever met.
I’m 18 years in and thankful for every day.
All the best
Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m so happy to hear your 18 years post ! This definitely gives me hope . I had no idea there is a cardiac rehab class (?). I don’t know anyone who has been through my experience, personally, do I’d love to find a support group. I have no idea what I can and can’t eat, do, etc to help me further survive! I’ve given up the obvious- cheese , sour cream , etc. But wonder if I should speak to some kind of nutritionist or dietician? Thanks again for responding and I wish you good health and happiness!