Hi there… My name is Amy Siegfried, I’m 50 years old, and I’m from southern Indiana, but have lived in chandler, Az for the past 5 yrs, and have lived in Az before… My daughter, 14, was born here, but we moved back home when she was in kindergarten, as my husband was traveling, and my grandparents were still around, and I wanted Jess to know them. We got four more years with them!!
I was 48, (5’5 and 135lbs) when I had my MI. I had been experiencing hot flashes, and some nausea, but chalked it up to menopause, and maybe a bug. I was hanging out with my grandkids, and driving them to dance class when things got started…my symptoms were off and on for 9 days before I went to the ER. Around the 8th day, I finally had my husband Scott take me to urgent care, because it was getting worse, and I had strange pressure/pain in my chest…they ran an EKG, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. The doc suggested I had acid reflux, and gave me a nasty concoction to drink, and sent me home with a prescription for nausea meds, and prilosec. I was chugging milk of magnesia, but not getting any relief. By now, I can’t lay down, because it hurt. Hard to explain that pain…it wasn’t sharp, but it made me cry. (I’m not a crier, and I have other health issues, and pain meds.) It kind of felt like a steel band around my ribs, and a heavy feeling in my chest. My neck and left shoulder hurt as well, but I didn’t connect any of these dots, yet. I also have fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Pain is my norm, so…anyway…Didn’t sleep much…woke my husband and daughter with my sobs, but I couldn’t explain the pain. Scotty gave me a Valium to help my anxiety, and I dozed sitting up… The next morning, I still felt awful, but Jess had to get to school, and Scott to work…he was worried, and asked if I needed to go to the ER. I told him I’d be ok, and was going to try and sleep a little, so check on me later. I knew he had an important lunch for his staff that day, but he said he’d come home early, and take me if I was still sick. I finally decided I needed to go when my neck and jaw started tingling, and i actually had a thought that it could be my heart, but dismissed it, and called him around 11, but said I wanted to get cleaned up before we went, so go ahead with the luncheon, and I’d be ready by one or so.
We finally get to the ER…I never did take a shower. Too weak, too much. Somehow I felt foolish and a little embarrassed when the clerk asked what brought me in…”chest pain?” (I said it like a question). She checked my O2 sats and I was ushered to the back immediately. A couple minutes later, I’m hooked up to an EKG, and then everything started happening really fast!! I was swarmed by techs and nurses, and one said “Mrs. Siegfried, you’re having a heart attack, and we’re going to take good care of you!” Nitro patch slapped on my chest, 4 baby aspirin shoved in my mouth, IV started, and poof! Off to the cath lab!! (Hubby was on the phone talking business until the announcement, and I looked at him with tears starting, and the only thing I could say was “oh shit” !! Lol!! Not very poetic, but I guess it fit!!)
I spent 3 days in the hospital…2 of them in ICU, though I felt like a fraud for most of it. I just never felt like I belonged in such a “seriously ill” ward… I got “busted” in the cafeteria, trying to buy a coffee and a snack, because I didn’t have a “hall pass”. The ICU nurses didn’t know, as they never have to deal with people leaving the floor on their own!! (I was styling in my gown, with the porta-heart monitor tucked in my pocket!) Lol!!
Anyway, I now have 2 stents in my RCA, which was 99% blocked, then 3 months later, I had a stent installed in my right illiac, as they found blockage to my legs with an ultrasound after my follow-up. I still have the left one to do, but it’s not clogged enough to warrant surgery, yet. I now have PAD, and something else to do with the arteries…can’t think of it…the cardiologist suggested it was caused by RA. I had no idea that RA could wreak havoc on your organs!! Luckily, after all that, my EF was at 50%, and no damage!! There is no real family history of heart problems. My dad had a blocked illiac, and had a stent placed when he was around my age, but it never affected his heart.
I was left kind of wanting by my cardiologist… He blames RA without tests. (I’ve had RA since I was 12, and it’s moderate, so I didn’t think or know it was possible). I wasn’t even offered cardiac rehab, and didn’t know it existed until much later… I still don’t know for sure that was the cause. My stress levels had been through the roof, off and on… I did change cardiologists after a year, and my new one scheduled a stress test, which I passed with flying colors! I also had funky side-effects from the statin. She changed that from atorvistatin to crestor, but no change in my muscle cramping and charlie horses…I couldn’t deal, so, after much research, I quit taking statins. I’ve read many articles stating that they do more harm than good, I just can’t see taking a medication that causes more pain, and might damage other organs!
As far as lifestyle changes, I quit smoking…but it took me a year. I still vape, but very little. I walk more, too…and I’m thinking about joining a gym soon, with my daughter. My greatest fear is not being here for her, her milestones…her graduation, from high school, college…her wedding, children. The usual, I think. I have started looking for work…after being a stay at home mom for 12 years…looking for a passion though, that allows me to still be home for my daughter after school. I work with animal rescues as a volunteer… I (we) have 3 dogs and a cat. I took on a foster dog last year that was labeled aggressive and fearful…he’s still here, and he’s a beautiful lover-dog, though skittish still, and in the hall bathroom hiding from the wind storm as I type. I really want to foster kids…especially those poor babies that are yanked from their homes to keep them safe… I am a caregiver at heart. I helped care for my grandparents, I saw my mom and dad through colon cancer, and I cared for my aunt B until she passed last Jan. I still feel a little lost now that she’s gone.
The most important part of recovery for me has been to take better care of me…I’m not very good at that! To anyone else I would say, quit smoking, if you do, and do more…exercise more, love more, eat better! Oh, and don’t think it can’t happen to you, because I know it can…I’ve seen it happen to people that are way better at working out, vegetarian, nonsmoker’s…just listen to your body. Women present differently than men, most of the time. Hug your family tighter. I’m rambling… Peace out! 😉