Today Please meet Donna Diaz.
In the spirit of Heart Month I am sharing stories of fellow Heart Attack Survivors that I have met through The Under 55 Heart Attack Survivors Group on Facebook. Everyone has a story and I hope you will take a read and help us create awareness of the #1 Killer in North America.
Who are you? Name, current age, where are you from?
Donna Diaz, age 49, Cedar Grove, NJ
How old were you when you experienced your heart attack?
48 Years Old
Where were you when it happened? Tell me your story. What were your signs and symptoms? Did you have any pre existing conditions or family history?
We were on a mini vacation Easter weekend (4/19/2014) at The Revel Casino, Atlantic City, NJ.
Seven months earlier went to hospital with indigestion. I was admitted. EKG a little off and mildly elevation troponin level. Had catheterization–showed two 20-30% lesions. Really nothing. Couple of weeks before HA, was tired, felt a little lousy when exercising. Thought it was dehydration. Morning of HA, felt sense of doom. I knew something was wrong. Sweat started to pour off of me. Then severe pain in chest and arms went numb.
Was brought to cath lab right from emergency room. Dr. saw blood clot and 70 blockage. She said they would administer meds to break up clot and scheduled another cath two days later. That morning started to have severe chest pain. LAD had become 100% occluded. I coded and needed to be cardio inverted and resuscitated. They brought me back to cath lab and put in two stents where lesions were.
I had no pre-existing conditions. All my “numbers” were good—blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. Exercised daily. Ate organic paleo diet—lots of green veggies, etc. 5 feet tall 120 pounds. No family history. Only major work stress.
How did this affect your life? Physically/ Personally?
It has hit me in a major way and truly taken a toll on me. Feel like my body let me down. I did everything right. I live in constant fear that it is going to happen again when I least expect it. In seven months I went from happy and healthy to a train wreck.
What lifestyle changes have you made? What are your struggles?
I have made no lifestyle changes, except not eating paleo. I now eat wheat again, oats and grains. I have no dietary restrictions. Lots of emotional issues and PTSD.
Stents/ Zipper or Defib ? What is your situation?
Two stents LAD
What do you fear now?
Everything except death. When I was being resuscitated, I was in a place of great serenity and peace. It was probably a lack of oxygen to my brain, but it was surreal-calm and just so peaceful.
What are three things that are most important in your post heart attack life?
- My faith—I would not be here doing this well without it.
- Want to live life and do everything and not put anything off.
- My family
Did you do Cardiac Rehab?
Cardiac rehab was alright. Met lots of nice people. Staff would not let me do much though.
What are your new dreams?
Just to enjoy life as much as possible and live every moment.
What do you wish you could do now that you never tried before but so wish you could? Eg: Skydiving.
Ironically, I want to try everything (ok, maybe not sky diving).
Who was there for you?
My sister and my aunt. My husband and my kids were okay, but my aunt and sis really helped me. I posted a mini blog on Facebook about what happened, as a sort of therapy I guess. The outpouring of love and support I received from people I hadn’t seen in years was amazing. It made me feel very loved. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my dog, Nellie. She sat next to me day in and day out and never left my side.
What is the funniest thing someone has said or asked about your heart attack?
Most people do not believe me. They said I was one of the healthiest people they ever knew.
Have you had any detractors or people who have been hard on you?
No. I am harder on myself than anyone would ever be.
If you could go back in the past how would you live your life differently?
I wouldn’t. We learn from our past. It is who I am.
What do you want more of in life?
Is this the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
What makes you great ?
I am easy going and empathetic. I love people and try to please everyone and love to make everyone smile.
What advice would you give to a healthy person?
You never know.