1st Half Marathon Post Heart Attack- What an experience !

My First Half Marathon Post Heart Attack !

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It took me a while to write this.  I had to sort through all my thoughts on this race.

I trained hard, I was dedicated, I pushed when I wanted to give up, kept going to the gym even when I didn’t feel like it.  Every moment leading up to the race was a challenge.  I was as ready as I was going to be.  My mind, my body felt strong.

Now, before I dive into this further please understand I am very proud of finishing the race and no one can take that away from me.  The pride and the finish.

I spent time before the race meeting friends, taking photos and having my photo taken many times thanks to people loving my race shirt ! The Shirt….that is for another post.

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To say I was nervous would be the biggest understatement of the day. 

I was ready to take this race and make it mine.  In my training I had felt amazing, was running an 11:45 min/mile.  I only had a few blips while training but worked through it smartly.

Smart.  That here is the key word my friends.  I trained not for speed, I trained to be smart, healthy and to ensure I was having fun.  Trained not to think too much about my heart attack and what could go wrong.  I felt so amazing !

Then came race day.  Up at the crack of crazy ( 3am) for a start time of 7:00 am.  I never publicly stated I had a goal but in my head I wanted to finish in 2:25.  That is what I trained for.

I won’t detail every kilometre, I promise. 

The course was amazing, flat, scenic.  The weather was cool at the start and quite warm as the race progressed.  The first kilometre and a half I ran with my friend Susan but realized her 9 min per mile pace was too much for me and out of my training zone.  I let her go ahead because I did not want her to stay behind for me.  I really wanted to do the whole race with her but realized she was a lot faster than I was.  Respect the pace, respect the distance is exactly what was going through my head.

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The first 5 KM I felt amazing, was matching my 12 min/ mile pace and just before the 5 km mark I stopped to see my friend Danielle who was waiting kindly for me by the Starbucks in Bridgeland.  It was so good to see my friend Danielle on the course, it gives you a little boost to keep pushing forward.  I took a photo with her and off I went.

Danielle and I :)
Danielle and I 🙂

 

As I ran back across Memorial Drive I was loving the race having fun with other runners and was still keeping a 12 min mile but  that was not to last much longer.

It was slightly before reaching 17th avenue that a little fatigue had started to set in.  This was between kilometre 8 and 9.   

17th Avenue.  What do I say about this part of the course ? It was definitely the worst part of the entire course.  It was 2.5 km of uneven roads, pot holes and a narrowing of the course.  Pedestrians crossed at a few points from the sides of the street.  Just before Kilometre 10 is when my race started to go downhill.

I went to pass 3 runners who were running side by side by side.  As I cut to the right I hit a dip in the road hard, twisted my knee, tried to brace myself from falling right over ( BIG MISTAKE !).  It took about another KM before I started feeling immense pain.  Now in theory this could have absolutely ruined my race but something great came out of it.  The Injury?  A Sprained Knee which I am still battling the pain of a few weeks later.

I MAY JUST BE IN A LITTLE PAIN HERE :(
I MAY JUST BE IN A LITTLE PAIN HERE 🙁

 

As I went to walk to the side once the pain started, I bumped into a young woman, apologized and we laughed.  This woman would be one of 2 that I ran/ walked the rest of the race with.  Her name was Lindsay.  The other girl was Shona.

The rest of the race we paced each other, taking walk breaks and although I admitted being in pain, I downplayed it.  I remember at one point,  Shona had said I was the reason she was running and staying in it.  That was awesome to hear and yes, it motivated my ass to keep going.

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318778_199516843_XLargeMy pace slowed to between 14-16 minutes per mile.  There were far more walk breaks than I had hoped for but I knew pushing harder would have made this injury worse.  So I did what I seem to do best in hard situations.  

I laughed.  I danced.  I chatted with those around me.  I posed as I ran past cameras.  I hugged a random person.  I pretended to be Superman, only, I was missing my Lois Lane.  My Knee was my race kryptonite but it would not wreck my spirit.  I kept repeating encouragement to my run mates as they did with me. This race was still mine.

 

The final kilometre was upon us and yes I continued to run/walk right up until the final corner where I ran, in tons of frickin pain but I ran.  That finish line looked so close and yet so far away.  The three of us kinda split at the end.  I would run into Lindsay again at Bag Check and a few days later on Instragram.

Crossing the finish line.  OH. MY. GOD.  So much awesome that it is hard to put into words.

I Crossed, I Cried ( that is again  for another post), crouched to my knees after crossing, got up and walked up to… and this is where it gets really cool.

 Her name is Sarah Lynn Stephens.  The day before the race she saw me at the packet pick up and told me I would finish and do amazing. Little did I know til later that the girl I got my medal from, who’s shoulder I cried on was the same girl who had encouraged me before the race.  A Girl who’s sister is actually on one of my Dodgeball teams.  Small World.  318778_199763060_XLarge

Seriously such an awesome finish, I would not have changed a thing.

The Race was fun, tough, but fun.  My Heart felt amazing, not once was I worried about my heart. It was my heart that got me through to the finish.  My body was up to the task at hand and I had fun for the entire 21.1 km.  I made a couple new friends, experienced brief emotion ( again a different post), finished a race and became very proud of what I accomplished even if it wasn’t the goal time I had hoped. 

 

 

 

So what else is there to say?

 

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When you set out to accomplish a goal, No matter how hard you train, how prepared you are…..Sometimes things don’t go as you had hoped or planned.  Sometimes we search and try for one thing but discover another.  There is no reason to be disappointed if you don’t get your time or PR and complete your goal.  Use it to move forward but don’t beat yourself up, be proud of what you did accomplish and look for what made the experience great. 

 

For me, it was two women who made me laugh, crossing the finish line, crying on the shoulder of someone who said they were proud of me and in the end……Kicking Heart Disease’s Ass for yet another day.

-MINI-

 

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The post that wasn’t……Trained Well. What Are You Afraid Of ?

Before you read the actual blog post below, there is something I must say.

I wrote the following a few days before I ran my Half Marathon.  I did not post this because although I wanted to believe the words, a part of me was still too scared to share what was going through my head.  These words got into my head after I wrote this so, I decided not to post.

Until tonight.

Why is it that we all are afraid to admit what scares us ?  Even when we feel confident outwardly we still don’t share.  So, my friends, I was sacred, scared enough not to share.  I can’t let continuous fear hold me back, so here it goes… Read on, if you wish.

 

TRAINED WELL……WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF ?

If you have trained well, what are you afraid of ?

This question was posed the other day in a conversation when I was discussing my upcoming Half Marathon as well as my training the last few months.

I have put a lot of time into my training, truthfully, it has almost been to the point of obsession.  I have never felt more focused in training than I have the last few months.  I want to have my best run ever.

So, what am I afraid of ?

Well, for starters, I have run 5 previous Half Marathons.  I was training for my 6 th when my Heart Attack Occurred.  OK, well it didn’t happen while running but it happened a few weeks before my big race.

I know exactly what it takes to run 22 kms, 13.1 miles.  I know the toll it can take on the body. I know how hard it can be mentally.  The internal battles with every step.  I know how the elements of weather can change and affect a persons body.

 

My First Half Marathon- Jan 2012 in Disneyworld.
My First Half Marathon- Jan 2012 in Disneyworld.

I am now doing this race knowing all of this and being aware that I have Heart Disease, that I am running with a 70 % blockage that was never surgically fixed. Let that sink in a bit.  Not to mention the various other 70’s and 50’s you can see in the pics below.

It is like being told before you start something that you are already have a disadvantage. This is a a disadvantage that you must overcome and no one around you would know. 

That part will never leave my head.

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This is the farthest distance I will have run consistently in 2 years.  My highest training mileage was 15 kms in the controlled environment of the Gym.  Kinda protected I’d say, wouldn’t you ?

To be clear, I do not fear death.

I fear the headaches.  I have been battling a small concussion for a few weeks now which has limited some running and other activities.  They have subsided for the most part.

I do fear that as prepared as I am, that my heart could shut me down.  Not another Heart Attack.  I fear not being able to finish the race that I have been so dedicated to training for.

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I mean, if my heart races too hard or the heat makes it too hard on my heart that I will have to pull out of the race. I will pull out.

It plays in my head that maybe I am not trained enough or that my heart may not quite be up to the challenge.

I fear my lack of emotion since my Heart Attack.

I fear the effect of my medications,

Let me explain.  

Most of my training was has been at night, 12-16 hours after I have taken my medication, a couple hours before I take my night time meds.

I take medication that does suppress my heart rate and my blood pressure.  I will have to take these within about an hour or two before my race.  So what is the effect ?

I have trained my heart rate to be at a consistent 145- 150 beats per minute at night while running. Given that I am taking my meds so close to race time, it will seem like more work and most likely my heart rate during the race won’t exceed 125-130.  I have done exercise on meds before but it has been a while, so, I truthfully don’t know how hard this could end up being.

My biggest fear ultimately is that I will let these thoughts get to me at some point during those 22 km.  I am so afraid that I will allow these fears to overtake the strengths I know I have and ultimately make me give up out of fear.

So why write about this ? Because tonight and until I cross that finish line I am giving a big F YOU  to these thoughts.  Why ? Because I have let them control me the last few weeks. and I am taking control back, for me, for my goal.

So, to answer the question.

 Today I fear nothing because I know I can do this.  I have already beaten many challenges in the last 20 months and I will finish this race.

I will finish because I am strong, I am healthy, I am confident and I am trained as best I can.  Let’s not forget… I am also…..

Pretty. Damn. Awesome.

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My First 10 K – 9 Months after my Heart Attack.

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7 DAYS

7 Days from now I will run my first Half Marathon Post Heart Attack.

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7 Days from now I will put my training and hard work to the test.

7 Days from now, I will be 100% focused.

7 Days from now I will equipped and prepared.

7 Days from now I will face fear head on.

7 Days from now I will beat my fear.

7 Days from now I will take the first step to more races.

7 Days from now I will encourage others as I run.

7 Days from now I will have fun.

7 Days from now I will dance on the course.

7 Days from now I will feel physical pain.

7 Days from now I will beat that pain.

7 Days from now I will feel joy.

7 days from now I will embrace that joy.

7 days from now I will run, walk, crawl if I have to.

7 days from now I will finish the race, even if it’s in last place.

7 Days from now…..Simply….I WILL.

 

Mini.

Not Good at Being Selfish. It’s not YOU, It is ME

Not Good at Being Selfish.

Hello readers.

So, I kind of disappeared again.  I apologize, yet, I don’t all at once.  I don’t expect this to make sense.

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In January I got  lazy and was dealing with personal and job issues. I started to close off a bit.  February I focused on the Heart Attack stories of others, which was amazing and therapeutic.  The beginning of March I overloaded my calendar with appointments, outings and allowed my brain to take over.  I also gained about 12 lbs in those months which made me feel like I was letting myself down and falling into old habits of putting off working out.

What changed ?  I was becoming exhausted and not feeling well.  I realized at one point that between December and March I lost complete focus on the most important person in my life.  Me.  It was beginning to affect my health.  Mentally and Physically.

So, I sat at Denny’s late one night and started to schedule some “me” time. I actually created a calendar, cause I’m cool that way ha ha. A part of writing this blog for me is to be honest, write about what I know and learn as I go.  I didn’t start this out to become a professional writer or get published.  I started this to become a better me and get my thoughts, body and my goals in sync.  I was beginning to fail at this.

I lost sight of what I was doing and where I was going.

I do not do selfish well.  Those who know me well will, I think, agree.  Too often I put the needs and wants of others ahead of myself.  I do enjoy giving of myself but sometimes I just give too much. As an ex girlfriend once said to me….. “ your problem is your care too much.”  She was right.

If you gave me a huge bundle of money, there is a solid chance I would spend on others long before I buy myself something and even then I would analyze my purchase until I was blue in the face.

OK, back to my point. Although the last paragraph kinda states a bit of my point.

 

So me, back to me.  I have spent the last 6 weeks getting back to what was important to me.  Yes, I have written, just not posted.  I have re dedicated myself to the gym.  Focus mainly on cardio.  I have lost 6 of the 12 lbs I gained, my energy has returned…sorta.  I need to work harder on not napping after work.  I am in training for my first Half Marathon post Heart Attack, so there is that as well.

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I don’t do selfish well but in the coming months my goal is to learn to balance my desire to give of myself AND focus on me.  I hate saying no, I struggle with the word, always have.  So, friends if you hear me say no more often than I say yes in the coming months, it is not you, it really is me.  I have to pick and choose my time and how I spend it.

I do have projects on the go that I am excited about.  One very dear to my heart, my annual Dodgeball Tournament to raise money for the Alberta Children’s Hospital is coming up and that will consume a good chunk of my time until June.  So, it’s me, the tournament and occasional gatherings in the coming months.

I have some mental and physical goals to reach this year. Maybe once I reach them the balance can shift again.  My main goal for now is to be better than I was the day before, every day.  Please bear with me but if you can’t handle it then I get it. 

It is me, not you.

 

Mini.

HEART ATTACK STORIES- LISA URBAN DOWLING- WE ALL BLEED RED.

 

 

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.

 

Today Please meet Lisa Urban Dowling.

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Who are you ?  Name, current age, where are you from ?

I am Lisa Urban Dowling.  I am currently 48.  I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, but have lived in St. Augustine, FL for the past 25 years

How old were you when you experienced your heart attack?

I was 46

Where were you when it happened?  Tell me your story.

I was at home, alone, while my 7 year old daughter spent the week with her dad and his girlfriend.  Since it was a holiday weekend (4th of July), I had asked if I could stop by and see her.  They decided that it would not be a good idea.  I let myself get pretty worked up about the situation.  I then decided that I would paint my great room.  While I was painting, I was talking to a friend of mine.  I all of a sudden felt as if an elephant was standing on my chest.  It was very strange and did not really go away.  I took my blood pressure (I have had high blood pressure previously during times of stress) and it was WAY high!  Like 260/150 high.  I decided that it was a faulty reading, and that I needed blood pressure medicine.  It was a Friday, so I found some old med in my medicine chest.  I had another round of pains two nights later (Sunday). I didn’t have a general practitioner, but I called one and was told that they couldn’t see me until Thursday.   I had pains again on Tuesday, but breathed through them and they seemed to lessen.  On Thursday, I went to the new doctor.  She checked me out, did an ekg in office, saw some abnormalities, called a cardiologist to see me the next day, and sent me to have blood work drawn.  That evening she called and said that I showed heart damage and needed to go straight to the hospital.  My ex grabbed my daughter, his girlfriend took me to the hospital, and I called my parents who lived out of state to come.

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The next morning, I had a heart cath with attempt to stent.  My LAD is 100% blocked and could not be removed, but my EF is still at 55 – 58.  I have had a Mayo consult, and they agree that I should be medically managed at this point.  It was something called SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) – rare, most common in perimenipausal or post partum women.

What were your signs and symptoms?  Did you have any pre existing conditions or family history ?

Not really – some slight hypertension.  I got too worked up, Elephant on chest.

How did this affect your life?  Physically/ Personally? 

I was so tired on the medication, but being a single mom, I really didn’t take much time off.  I did cardiac rehab.  My cholesterol and everything is fine.  I watch what I eat, try to eat Mediterranean and try to stay active.  I also let a lot of things go so that I don’t stress.

What lifestyle changes have you made ?  What are your struggles ?

I am a little less type A.  I also live very in the moment, especially spending time with my daughter.

Stents/ Zipper or Defib ?  What is your situation?

None for now.  Part of my heart is dead – the distal apex.  But dead is dead, so not much that can be done.  Will need defib in future if it gives off faulty signals.

What do you fear now ?

Not being here for my daughter.

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What are three things that are most important in your post heart attack life?

My daughter, spending time with my family, leaving a positive impact on others.

Did you do Cardiac Rehab?  What has been the hardest part of your recovery ?

I did and it was helpful.  The weight gain (caused by menopause or medication)

What are your new dreams ?

I want to work at becoming a life coach so that I can help others more.  (I taught high school and middle school English for 20 years, and now work as a service and sales rep for a great family owned photography company).

What do you wish you could do now that you never tried before but so wish you could?  Eg:  Skydiving.

I want to travel more! Paris, Hawaii…

Who was there for you?

My family.  The friends I told.  My ex and his girlfriend.

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Did you lose many people after ?

Several high school acquaintances have died due to heart attacks since mine.  

Have you had any detractors or people who have been hard on you?

Not really.  I seem so healthy that it is a shock to most.

If you could go back in the past how would you live your life differently?

I wouldn’t!  I have lived a great life and made a difference to many, which is how I measure.

What do you want more of in life ?

Peace, fun, time with my daughter, travel, love.

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What makes you great ?

My positive, upbeat, helpful spirit.

What advice would you give to a healthy person?

Love your kids, spend time with your loved ones.

HEART ATTACK STORIES- RACHEL TURNER- WE ALL BLEED RED.

Today Please meet Rachel Turner .

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 ?

Rachel Turner, 38, Auckland New Zealand

How old were you when you experienced your heart attack?

35 Years Old

 

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Where were you when it happened?  Tell me your story. What were your signs and symptoms?

Started 2pm,  July 20, 2011 with severe reflux and generalised body aches and lethargy (seriously thought I was coming down with flu or such).

 I  went to work 3-11pm shift at a local accident and medical.   I had joked with my husband that if a pateint came in with these symptoms and was 10+ years older we would do ECG and refer them to hospital.    But yeah, I thpught,  nah,  I must be over reacting.   At work few people commented I looked a bit unwell, said I felt like getting flu. Discussed with senior nurse on duty but agreed ecg was probably over reacting. Walking to get dinner that night from subway felt like legs made of lead and short of breath just  walking 50 m each way on flat. Finished shift went home. Next morning woke feeling even worse, dizzy when standing, nauseous, had vomiting and diarrhoea. At home alone with 2 year old son, husband at work and when phoned not able to come home. Rang few friends & neighbours but no one free and given hard time for wanting someone to drive me to drs or hospital for bag IV fluids. (Have birth defect in kidney so get dehydrated really quickly with d& v which i thought it was). Syptoms at this point, dizzy, reflux, d/v. Father in law agreed to come and pick up my son but not take me to hospital or dr.

Rang ambulance embarassed as not able to drive self safely just to get a bag of iv fluids. Ambulance and father in law arrived, had crawled out to lounge with son as he was too short to reach the handle on the door and open it. He was so cute he just sat by mummy until help came. I joked with ambulance staff as they were concerned about tracing of my heart, but in past due to kidney ecgs when i was dehydrated showed weird rythms. So i thought everyone overreacting. Got to hospital (lights no sirens) at 9am. Taken into cubicle, nurse took one look at me laying on stretcher and went  ah no we are going around to resus ( at this point i’m thinking oh come on just give me a bag of fluids and send me home to bed). Sat up and they said okay cut clothes of, me no way they were my nice pj’s, so took them off thinking overreacting. TOP cardiac specilaist/ medical director of the whole hospital walks in. I knew him from my post grad nursing placement 13 years previously, so said hi Dr Hart (Seriously his name). Floored by his next comment, ” forget chest xray lets get her to angio” in my mind, ” f me it is a heart attack, bugger” still not freaked out. 2 hours later came out of angiography having had a stent put in main anterior left ascending artery, 100% blockage at spot called the widow maker.  Saw husband by the trolley as I am wheeled up to the coronary  ward, said to him “suppose this means no more babies” ” ah yes” his only reply.

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Did you have any pre existing conditions or family history ?

Birth defect left kidney (benign), fluctuating hypertension thought to be due to kidney. Most family live to their 80s with some heart disease in late 70’s. Since my ha both parents have been found to have developed high cholesterol. My cholesterol was 5.4 at time of heart attack (NZ normal is <5). Had chest pain a few times previously and had seen my cardiologist and even had had an exercise test negative.

 

Did this affect your life? / ?

Yes but not really, hubby and I are really roll with the stuff life throws at you people, if you can’t prevent it accept it and get on with life. Kept in hospital for 5 days as staff were concerned we weren’t taking it seriously (we were but why cry over something no one saw coming). My cardiologist was in the angio room that day and didn’t realize it was me until when my husband rang him that night. He just thought there were 2 people with my name and age in Auckland.

Physically for a year had to watch energy levels, couldn’t walk up steep drives, hanging washing up was hard as everytime lifted arms above head all the blood drained out of them and i would start puffing. etc. Now I have resumed my normal activities and life I don’t do marathons but can jog if the need arises and walk neighbors puppy 20 mins twice a week. Work 2 partime nursing jobs 32 hours per week, have an energetic 5 year old, am on school commitee. 

 Personally We have decided not to have a second child purely due to fact IF I ran into heart issues we would have to immediately terminate and that in our mind is no way to enter a pregnancy. We have a wonderful little man and to us it is selfish to risk him having to grow up with no mummy or one with serious heart issues. 

What lifestyle changes have you made ? 18 months ago changed job from 24 hour per week at a & E to working in community as a Parkinson’s community educator( Parkinson’s nurse in USA). We had worked out my angina triggers- poor sleep improved with son getting older and having his tonsils out. Working with certain people who increase my stress levels exponentially- changed job. Avoid certain people when not feeling at best (MIL), Low iron levels.

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 What are your struggles ?

 Pacing myself and not taking on too much (I hate to disappoint people)

Stents/ Zipper or Defib ?   What is your situation?

Stent x1 ejf 35%, Had 2nd angio at 6 months all clear stent good. HAd echo at 3 months back to normal EJF 55-65%, repeated at 3year mark normal and small patch of hypoplasticity visable on all echos, on some meds and 5 year recall to cardiologist and echo.

What do you fear now ?

Repeat MI

What are three things that are most important in your post heart attack life?

Son, husband, living my life to fullest.

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Did you do Cardiac Rehab?  What has been the hardest part of your recovery ?

Yes I did Cardiac Rehab.  The hardest part is the fact people don’t believe I had a full proper heart attack OR think i am broken somehow and unable to make own decisions rationally.

What are your new dreams ?

Grandchildren, retiring and travelling with husband in 20-30 years.

What do you wish you could do now that you never tried before but so wish you could?  Eg:  Skydiving. 

 Nothing,  I hate heights, cold water and roller coasters.

Who was there for you? 

My husband and son.

Did you lose many people after ?

No,  everyone soon realized I was still me and not fragile.

 What is the funniest thing someone has said or asked about your heart attack?

Nothing was said that was funny.

Have you had any detractors or people who have been hard on you? 

 A lot of people did not believe that i had actually had a heart attack or they thought i was over exaggerating the severity of it. Boss at a&e called me into a disciplinary meeting one year after my ha as i had had too much time off sick with my ha. (I was back at work part time 8 weeks after heart attack and back to normal 24 hours per week by 4 months, she had been a senior nurse until promoted @ 6 months after my heart attack).

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If you could go back in the past how would you live your life differently?

 Drink more, party more, not be afraid of life.

What do you want more of in life ?

 Time with my husband and son and not have to work so much

Is this the hardest thing you have ever experienced ? 

 Yes and no,  yes as it held me back for a year and everyone fussed over me, and no not the most painful- prior to this had had 13 kidney stones and since have put lower back out that hurt more, and went thru 2 periods of abuse in late teens.

What makes you great ? 

 Sense of humor, desire to help others, my husband and son, without them I  would just be mediocre.

What advice would you give to a healthy person?

 Don’t smoke, have healthy weight, live life to the most. 

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Rachel Turner

HEART ATTACK STORIES- KRISTIN FEELEY- WE ALL BLEED RED.

Today Please meet Kristin Feeley .

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.

 

KRISTIN PIC

 

I guess I should start my story when I was 7.  My mother, while on the phone with the electric company, collapsed in our dining room.  My father, a fireman and the other firefighters “worked” on her as they waited for an ambulance that never showed.  They finally picked her up and put her in the squad car where she died on the way to the hospital.  She died at the age of 38 of what I was later told a “sticky mitral valve”.

Last year, at the age of 39, on March 8, 2014 on an unseasonably warm, sunny day, I had my step-mother up to my house so we could find her a dog at the shelters near me.   My daughter volunteered at a shelter and wanted her to check out a dog there, we visited 2 shelters and had picked out Arthur, a laid back Jack Russell and Chihuahua mix.  We hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t stop somewhere with the dog in the car so we drove her and the dog over an hour to the house I grew up in.  When we got there we decided to order some take out from the pizza place,  we all had chicken parmesan dinners. 

 After dinner, I was sitting in the same room that my mother collapsed in and started to feel a horrible pain in the center of my chest.  At first I thought it may be indigestion,  I was hungry didn’t eat all day and maybe ate a little too quickly.  The longer I sat there the worse the pain seemed.  I asked my step-mother for an aspirin because the nagging thought in the back of my head was this is a heart attack.   She didn’t have an aspirin but had Aleve and so I took it just in case it had aspirin in it.  I sat for a couple of minutes and then I started to have trouble breathing.  I was starting to panic.  I turned to my husband and said “I am having chest pain and can’t breathe, we need to go”.   The phone rang and my step-mother picked up the phone and started talking to her son and all I could think is “I’m having a heart attack and she’s on the phone with her son?”  My husband was mad at her and said we’re going.  I got up and walked outside to our car.  I felt weak and prayed I could make it to the car.  My husband was trying to get my daughter to get in the car.  She was 14 and was freaking out and wanted to stay.  I opened the car door and got in the car and watched the two of them argue with each other and thought I can’t die now, they will kill each other.  I felt the tingling going down my right arm and then my left. I started to cry and yell to get in the car. 

 My husband drove me and my daughter to the closest emergency room, unfortunately well known for being a horrible hospital, but I had no choice.   On the way, I kept coughing as hard as I could because I had read it helps during a heart attack and asked my hubby to pound on my back, figuring if the coughing helped maybe the pounding would too. They were doing construction at the hospital, so my hubby dropped me off.   I walked to the front desk at the ER and told them I was having chest pain and couldn’t breathe.  They put me in triage pretty quickly, where the pain continued and I couldn’t catch my breath.  The nurse kept telling me I was having a panic attack and I was hyperventilating.  I knew I wasn’t.  The pain was unbearable and I couldn’t get comfortable in any position.  They hooked me up to an ekg and saw nothing.  They took me for x-rays and nothing.  They asked me for urine but I looked at the nurse like she was nuts, I couldn’t even stand up and she wanted me to pee in a cup.  They put me in a bed to wait for more results.  

 A male nurse, that seemed to be my angel, asked what he could do for me and I told him I was in pain.  He came and gave me some morphine, thankfully the pain let up a little.  My sister showed up, I guess my step-mother got off the phone long enough to call her.  The ER doctor came and said they couldn’t see anything but they would keep me for observation.  I was admitted and moved to a room.  I sent my sister home and my daughter and hubby back to my step-mother’s since we were an hour away from home. 

 As I was getting settled into my room, a nurse came in and said I tricked them.   I was like how???  The levels in my blood did indicate I was having a HA and they were still rising and I had some arrhythmia.  They would move me to CCU and do additional testing and probably catherization.  

 I was scared, I called my hubby and told him what was going on and they were moving me.  The doctor on that floor came in looking concerned and wanted me moved asap.   It was kind of nice in CCU,  I was by myself in a room and had a view of the NYC skyline.  The nurses were great there too and I felt like I was getting better. They did an echo and still saw nothing.  More EKGs and more blood work. I was in touch with my boss and seriously said to him, I’ll probably be back in a few days.  I remember posting on Facebook saying I may have had a “little heart attack” and my sister got so mad.  She was crying, which she never does and said it wasn’t little, stop down playing it. 

 That’s maybe when I realized I was in denial. 

 My step-mother called me and started saying this is too close to what happened to your mother, which got me get upset and set my machines off.  Hubby had to take her calls after that. Finally they decided to do a chemical stress.  They did the first part of the test that made my heart race and took pictures.  They said if that came out fine I would not have to do the at rest portion and could go home.  They took the pictures and wheeled me to the door to wait for the orderly.  They had the pictures on the screen and I could see one picture did not look like the rest.  I knew then, that there was a problem and would be back for the 2nd part.  When my sister came that day I said I saw something, she said maybe it wasn’t yours, but I knew. 

 The next day I went back for the 2nd part and was then told they were switching me to a different hospital for catherization. I am overweight so they didn’t want to risk doing a catherization at that hospital.  They wanted me to see a special cardiologist there who did many of these procedures a day.   On March 13, 2014 an ambulance came to transfer me to Hackensack University Medical Center.  My husband and my brother met me at the hospital and I was prepped to wait for the procedure. I remember not feeling nervous, just wanted to get in and get it done.   I was brought into the cath lab a little while later and given pain meds.  They moved the machine around me and explained they would go through my wrist and if they saw anything they would stent me.  I felt the wire going through and it hurt and I said it hurt and they gave me a little more pain meds.  I then heard a tech say, “here comes the BMW” and I am normally a smart ass so I said, “but I like Volvos better”.  That is the last thing I remember.  According to my current cardiologist “all hell broke loose”.  

 From what I am told, I had another heart attack and blood clots had blocked my LAD.  They tried unsuccessfully 3 times to stent me, but they couldn’t.  The doctors came out and talked to my husband and brother and told them I needed an emergency bypass.  If it wasn’t done, I would just continue to have heart attacks and damage my heart.  So, they moved me from the cath lab to the OR, they let my husband and brother talk to me before the surgery.  They said I was crying and talking, but I do not remember any of it.  As they wheeled me into the OR, I had a third HA. 

 Next thing I remember is I waking up in the ICU, tubes down my throat and thinking “what the hell happened”?  This is not a stent.  The nurse stopped me from pulling out the tubes in my throat and talked to me and told me what happened.  I was in a haze the next couple of days. I was then moved from ICU to the “heart” wing.  I slept in the reclining chair mostly and tried to move myself around.  A physical therapist came once but didn’t again so I walked myself.  I was released 5 days later. 

 Coming home and doing the stairs were tough but I did it.  I had a nurse come a couple of days a week and my mother in law stayed a week.  A week after coming home, I developed an infection in the wound on my chest.  I had to go on antibiotics and the surgeon had to cut the dead skin, leaving me with a hole in the middle of my chest that I had to dress and clean with my husband’s help for the next few months.  At first, I would cry at the sight of it, but now I wear my scar with pride.  It is my proof of overcoming something much bigger than I ever thought I could. 

 I attended cardiac rehab for about 2 months, wish I could have done the entire program, but I had to get back to work.  Work for me was my return to normalcy, now I wonder why I was pushing to come back, LOL. 

 I still can’t believe this happened without more of a warning.  I had hereditary high cholesterol since I was 15, but otherwise I was pretty healthy.  Don’t smoke, don’t drink much, and yes my weight probably is not the best, but my doctor’s don’t feel it was the cause.  I know my cardiologist wishes he had more info on my mother’s condition as he feels our events are related.  I went through a lot of ups and downs and still do.  I get anxious sometimes and my sleeping has never been the same.  My cardiologist feels I have some PTSD.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining.  I know I am so lucky that I have this second chance. 

 My daughter said to me months later that she was mad at her father not letting her be there on cath day, and I asked why? She said ” what happens if it was worse and it couldn’t be fixed?  I wouldn’t have had the chance to say good-bye”.  I cry every time I think of that.  I feel horrible that I had to put her through that and I know I could have been my mother who missed watching her child(ren) grow up. 

The bright spot is that this has made my amazing husband and daughter and me so much closer and stronger.  I also see that my sister and brother, even though they won’t always say it, would do anything for their baby sister.   If it wasn’t for these wonderful people supporting and taking care of me, I don’t think I would have made it through.

HEART ATTACK STORIES- TERRI PIZSCZEK- WE ALL BLEED RED

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.

Today Please meet Terri Pisczek .

 

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My name is Terri Pisczek and I’m in my late 50’s I’m from Sunny Florida. I was 39 years young when I had a heart attack.

 I woke up one morning and within a few minutes I knew something was wrong by the way I felt.  I experienced a sudden thick heavy feeling in my chest.  Something that made me think… hmm.  The day before I was feeling great, enjoying life.  I leashed my dog then we headed out for our normal late morning scenic walk. While walking I noticed the thick heavy feeling becoming worse.  Halfway into the walk I felt short of breath a little weak.  I’d never felt this before.  I decided to turn around and head back home and call the doctor.

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 I called the doctor’s office it was closed and would reopen at 1pm.  I left a detailed message with his answering service,  I was promised they could call back. I had made a veterinary appointment the day before, so, off I went. While in the veterinarians office I felt really bad and couldn’t wait to return home.  I sucked it up and made it through the pet’s doctor appointment.

When I got home I call the doctor again. I spoke with his nurse and explained my symptoms.  By this time the pressure had increased and turned into pain going down both arms and out the middle of my back between my shoulder blades. I asked if I could be seen by the doctor. She said I’ll give him the message.  I asked her when will he return the call, she said by 2;00pm.  By 2:00pm, they had not returned my call, so I called again. The nurse said she discussed my symptoms with the doctor and he said the pain I was having was either muscular or skeletal and he prescribed taking Advil.  I drove up to the store and bought Advil.  I took as he prescribed, but my symptoms stayed the same. At 4:00 PM the pain began to get worse and increased into something that felt like a painful attack in my chest with increased pain going down both arms and into my fingertips. The pain was in my chest, coming out the center of my back with painful pins and needles shooting up to the collar bone and neck area. Very painful, I wasn’t comfortable sitting or laying down.  I had to go outside and sit on a bench because I felt like I couldn’t get enough air. I need fresh air. By this time my chest area, arms and back felt extremely sore as if I had been punched in the chest and back, sorta like I just took beating.  The pain begins to worsen while I was outside so I went back inside.  My husband arrived home from work and  I ask him to get the doctor on the phone. I was feeling too weak and drained and confused.

 At 4:50, my husband did reach the doctor on the phone and he told the doctor I was in really bad pain. The doctor then asks if I could come to the phone.  My husband handed me the phone, I proceeded to tell the doctor again everything I had experienced since I last called him.  He told me that I was having an esophagus spasm and he recommend I take some liquid antacid. I question why I would be having an esophagus spasm, and if so, would the pain be this great? He assured me that esophagus pain is extremely painful and resembles a heart attack.  I ask him if I could be having a heart attack and he said NO because, for one, I have pain in both arms.  His other reasons were that I was a young woman and there was no sweating or vomiting involved.  He said, to trust him and assured me this was not a heart attack because I had no risk factors and he therefore had no reason to believe it heart related.

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He clearly stated that if I was a man he would have reason to be concerned.

 Back to the store for liquid antacid and took as he prescribed. My pain was not alleviated by taking the antacid. At 7:00 PM, I was still in pain, sore and I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the antacid to take effect.  The Doctors office had closed and I called something called ” Ask a Nurse.”  I explained to the nurse the pain I was experiencing all day. I told her I had spoken with my doctor regarding this.  She advised me to follow my doctor’s advice first, and if the symptoms persisted, go to the ER. I then tried taking more antacid, but still I had no relief. All of the symptoms continued and by 8:00pm my husband drove me to the ER.

 The Front desk nurse said to forget the usual paperwork and felt I needed immediate attention.  After explaining my symptoms to the ER doctors, They said I was describing a heart attack and they needed to run some tests immediately.  They confirmed that I had and was possibly still having one.  My blood work had come back positive for Triponen.  They said I needed medication immediately and which time I was administered TPA, they suspected I had a blood clot.  I was also given others medication and was told that my heart was responding. This confirmed their diagnosis. They said that my EKG was abnormal due to the heart attack. As a result, I had two cardiac caths, angioplasty and I was diagnosed with aggressive coronary artery disease. I underwent triple bypass.  Over the years, I’ve had 8 re stenoses, blood clots that required stenting. I’ve had 8 stents.

My signs and signs and symptoms were heavy feeling in my chest, pain in my chest coming shooting through by back between my shoulder blades, pins and needles, shooting pains in my collar bone and neck area, shooting pains down BOTH arms and ending in my fingertips.  I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol but my doctor never seemed concerned, so I wasn’t.

This crushed my world. I felt broken, I was traumatized, I stopped living and started worrying. Fear took over my life followed by deep depression.  I hated my life, I no longer felt joy. I had no desire to think or plan for the future. I didn’t think I’d have a future. While others laughed and planned future events I sat slightly in emotional pain. Physically I couldn’t do the things I once did. I couldn’t work it was too stressful.  I loved working in the yard, couldn’t do that, riding bikes, shopping, running with a group of friends all of this ended that day.  Angina took over and the medications side effects took it’s toll.

 I have to wear the ugly scars that come with open heart surgery. I live in Florida and always wore cute little shorts. That ended because of the scar. I hated the scar on my leg. I loved wearing T-Shirts. I stopped because of the scar on my chest.

I definitely made lifestyle choices after.   I do not eat fast foods, canned foods, snack foods like chips, donuts, breads, white rice, white potatoes, sodas, iced tea, very little red meat. I exercise more, avoid stress, removed toxic people from my life. What are your I do struggle with willpower due to lifestyle changes.

Here is me:  Triple bypass, 8 stent implants. They have placed 8 stents in my bypass grafts. One graft closed. What do you fear now? Geez, one of my bypass grafts is a vein and it’s 20 years old. Brittle, filled with stents.  Recent PET scan was abnormal. Lack of blood flow to the heart muscle in the area where the old graft filled with stents supplies.  This is like driving on bald tires. Not sure how many more stents can fit in this graft.  If they Cath me and make one little oops, I fear it could have a heart attack or death.

The things that are important to me are my little ones they were and are my life. I love my pets and they need me. Being happy and helping others.  My husband and mother in law were there for me, she did all of the work.

After my Heart Attack,  I lost everyone. I was a young 39-year-old and enjoyed life like I was 25 years old, now,  I couldn’t keep up with the 70-year olds.

I attended Cardiac Rehab as a part of my recovery and I recommend it to others.  I do have dreams and goals, a big one is to live another 20 years.  I also wish to travel, live

One of the funniest things that happened to me after was…..I was walking with an ex friend and she said if you pass out or have a heart attack I’m not doing CPR on you. lol. NOT funny since she knew I was having symptoms at the time.  If I could go back I would live my life more FOR ME!!!!! I wish and hope to have more TIME in life. Having my Heart Attack is the hardest thing that has ever happened to me.

I would advise others to exercise more and watch your blood pressure, cholesterol and diet.  I am a person who can do things for others with a smile on my face while I am suffering.

The bay area newspaper did an article on me after I had my heart attack. I’m not sure who contacted them. They called and ask if I would tell my story and offered to come to the hospital. Of course, I said no I can’t. I’m recovering from a heart attack. They ask maybe at a later date. I said yes/maybe. After I started rehab they contacted me and wanted to take a picture and post my story in the newspaper. I made the front page news. and a side page. The purpose was to bring awareness to women and the medical field that women are at risk of suffering a heart attack and it’s not a just a male disease. the inside article read as follows.

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Heart disease kills more women than anything else, but not many people know it. Public perception and some doctors still consider heart disease a male illness, even though for the past 10 years it’s killed more women than men.

Terri Pisczek knows. The 39-year-old mother experienced “crushing tightness” in her chest when she took her dog for a walk. The discomfort caused her to turn back.  Throughout the day she called her doctor as the “squeezing pain” continued to the middle of her back, between her shoulders and down both arms. She recalls her doctor telling her, I assure you it’s not your heart. Finally, Pisczek called ask-a-nurse service. They advised her to follow her doctors advice but to head to the ER if it continued. She learned it was a heart attack, but because so much time had elapsed before she was treated, Pisczek suffered irreversible muscle damage. Cardiovascular disease killed 478,179 women in 1990, the most recent year statistics are available from the National Center for health statistic and the American Heart Association The disease struck down 447,900 men that year.

More to this story. But I wanted to say, Nothing has changed in the awareness of heart disease.

Terri Pisczek

HEART ATTACK STORIES- WENDELL LAUGHTER- WE ALL BLEED RED.

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.

Today Please meet Wendell Laughter, a  man who’s last name suits his his personality and demeanor.

WENDELL LAUGHTER

 

It was July 26th, 2014, a beautiful Saturday.  I lease 2200 acres of land fairly close to where I live, I lease it for hunting as I’m an avid hunter.

The morning of the 26th I got up fairly early and went to the lease property to work on building a shooting house for deer season. Basically a 4’ by 8’ by 7 feet tall house built 15 feet off the ground. The only unusual thing that happened this day was, my wife decided to go help me, and that wasn’t something she done hardly at all. She has other things she likes to do on her Saturdays, as she works a full time job through the week like I do.

 When we left the house and headed to the lease property I didn’t feel all that good, but wasn’t feeling sick or anything either, I was just being lazy I thought.  In order to get to where I was building my blind you have to have 4 wheel drive as the road is an old logging road and it’s easy to get stuck. I guess at this point I should give you a little of my history.

 I was 45 years old, and in good shape.  I’m 6’3” and at the time for my heart attack I weighed 270lbs. I carried it really well, I wasn’t over weight at all. I smoked close to 2 packs of Marlboro reds a day, and partied on my boat at the lake most weekends, all bad food and good ice cold beer and some occasional moonshine. 

 Anyway, back to that memorable day, haha.   I had unloaded some 16’ long 4×4’s and some plywood and 2×4’s out of the truck, and Rhonda (my wife) was helping hold them together while I screwed them together, making the frame of the building. It was in the low 90’s and I was sweating pretty good.  I had been eating allergy medicine because I had flu like symptoms. My chest was congested and my nose was runny, so when I started feeling light headed and sick, I thought I had got too hot. I told my wife that I was really nauseated and dizzy headed and she thought I had got too hot as well.  She convinced me to go sit in the truck with the air conditioner on,  the truck was about 20 feet away from where I was at. 

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 When I started walking to it, I wasn’t sure I could make it, but I just stared at it and stumbled my way over to the truck, almost falling/walking.  When I got to the truck I fell to my knees at the truck door and rested my head on the running board/step… I was trying to “shake off” whatever was wrong with me, so I stayed on my knees there for a few minutes before hearing my wife ask me if I was ok.   I, of course answered yes and reached up to open the truck door.  At that moment my left arm felt like someone had jerked it out of socket, it felt dislocated at the elbow and shoulder and just “ached” something awful! That’s when I thought to myself, “oh crap! I’m having a heart attack!”. I yelled to my wife, “Come on Rhonda, we need to go”.. and of course she yelled back, “ok, let me gather your tools up.”  I was thinking we didn’t have time for that! Haha ! but I also knew that if I argued with her about it, it would take even longer, so I just stayed on my knees and waited.  In a couple of minutes she was at the truck and said everything was picked up and we was ready. I stood up to get in the truck and it felt like someone had shot me with a rifle, dead center of my chest.  That’s when fear overwhelmed me, the weird part was, I wasn’t really scared of dying.  The fear was more of a panic, all I could picture in my head was my wife being stuck out on the middle of nowhere with a dead body,  what would she do, how would she handle that? OMG!!  I need to get out of here! I don’t want her to go through that!.

 I started driving us out of there and she was getting mad and yelling at me because I was driving wide open and even making new roads here and there, lol.  She wanted to drive but I knew we needed to hurry and she would be too slow.  I honestly don’t remember driving out of there, my wife said I slid to a stop 3 or 4 times and put my head down on the steering wheel, when she would ask if I was ok, I replied that I was ready to pass out.  I would as her to just give me a minute and I would be ok.  I don’t know how exactly, but I got us home, (my wife says it was the scariest ride she’s ever had, lol).  We got home around 1:30pm.  Ok, mission one was to get out of the woods so my wife wouldn’t have to deal with a dead body.  Mission one, step one a success!!.  Mission two: I’m filthy.. sweaty.. dirty.. filthy!.. so apparently I started undressing as I walked to the front door.  By the time I made it to out bathroom I was naked and getting in a very cold shower, my wife was right behind me asking if she should call an ambulance.  I told her no, that I must have torn something in my chest from all the coughing (was hoping) but I stepped into the shower and rinsed off and stepped out. I barely remember crawling out of the bathroom and down the hall to the kitchen, it’s like I dreamed it. My wife had me some fresh clothes and was demanding that I let her call 911.. I told her no, that she was going to drive me to the ER, so I got in her little Lincoln MKX and off we went.

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 I kept telling her to go faster! Faster!  She was barely over the speed limit.  I remember passing a state trooper parked on the side of the road and her pointing him out to me as a reason to not speed.  I think my exact quote was something like “phuck him!! Go damnit!! Go!!  I’m dying!”  The pain was so unbearable that I was upside down in the passenger seat trying to find a spot that didn’t hurt me, my feet on the ceiling of her MKX, pushing like a woman in labor, lol.  I finally gave up and had her go to the ambulance service place.  We got there and everybody was gone, so we called 911 from the ambulance garage, lol, it took them forever to get there (about 15 minutes), they checked me, ran an EKG and said: “We can take you to the hospital but you can drive and get there just as fast, your EKG shows your heart is ok.  I get back in Rhonda’s car and off we go. The hospital is about a 40 minute drive and she’s not going fast enough.  I’m mad as hell because everybody is ignoring her emergency flashers and won’t move over, finally we hit a long straight away with nothing coming, so she passed about 10 to 15 cars.  I remember looking at the speedometer and she broke 110mph, I laughed and told her that NOW she’s driving !  I was trying to make her laugh and lighten the mood.  We get to the ER around 3:00pm, and when we walk in they ask what’s wrong and after I tell them my chest is killing me, they take me straight in. They run an EKG and it’s good. They send me and get a cat scan, it was all I could do to hold still long enough, I was in agonizing pain. They put an IV in me for the scan, to put dye in or something, so when I got back to my room they wanted me to drink a “GI cocktail”. it tasted like shit and didn’t touch the pain.

The cat scan guy walked into my room and said: “The cat scan didn’t show any fluid around your heart, no blockages and no aneurisms, your heart is fine” I as adamant that something was literally killing me.  I was begging for something for the pain and trying to convince them that I wasn’t a druggie looking for a “fix”.  They gave me a nitro pill under my tongue, it didn’t help.  They gave me a second nitro, still didn’t help, then a third pill, still no help at all. They gave me some morphine through my IV then a hydrocodone pain pill. Still. No. Help…. at all. I was getting mad as hell, I thought they was giving me placebos. I got up at one point and was going to walk out,  I told them if it wasn’t my heart that I could tough it out long enough to get home and take a hand full of pain pills (I never take them, so I had plenty in the cabinet from other things over the years).  My wife and an emergency room doctor talked me into staying for more tests and observation.

 They wheeled me to a room and started giving me a pain pill every 4 hours, and morphine every 2 ½ hours.  I watched the clock like a hawk and was asking for the meds 10 minutes or so before time from the previous meds were up, so they would have them ready, lol.  At 1:00am (now it’s Sunday), my wife is asleep in a chair in the corner of my room when a doctor comes running in, turning my lights on, and telling me “Mr. Laughter, your blood work is back and your enzymes are sky high!!.”  I looked at him, with my fists clinched against my chest and asked what that means, he said “you’re in cardiac arrest, you’re having a heart attack!”  

He stood there awaiting a reaction, I looked in straight in the eye and said, “no shit!!”…. lol.  I was actually relieved to know why I was in agony, believe it or not,  He told me that they cancelled my stress test they had scheduled for the morning and was getting a cath scheduled no stress test??… smh.  When he walked out I whispered to Rhonda (not knowing if she was awake), “did you hear that?”.  She whispered back, “yeah” but didn’t move or a make a sound the rest of the night, it scared her more than it did me, lol.  

The rest of the night was a Chinese fire drill, nurses crawling all over me.. yeah, was wondering if it was heaven a few times, lol.  The morning came, and at 9:30am, 18 hours after arriving at the ER, I was headed to the cath table for a 30 minute procedure. They put me on the table and started shaving my groin, but went through my wrist. They did a “radial” cath  but shaved the groin just in case they needed to go through it. I was hurting too bad to lay still, so they knocked me out.  I woke up still on the cath table, with my doctor poking me on the shoulder, calling my name. “Wendell. Wendell. Wendell.”  When I answered he said and I kid you not,  he said: “This ain’t good, this ain’t good at all!  We need your help, we’re in a tight spot here, can you lay still and hold your breath when we ask you to?”.  I, of course said yes and done as he said.  I remember him talking with someone over an intercom, “insertion of 10X in LAD”… “Insertion of 8X in LAD”… after the first insertion he turned his head to talk to whoever that guy behind the glass was.  I used that instance to readjust myself, I was hurting too bad to lay still, he wasn’t looking at me but immediately knew I had moved, everybody laid their hands on me and was saying “don’t move, don’t move”.. was like, “ok, ok!!”, lol.

Anyway, I remember laying there and all of a sudden the pain leaving, I remember my muscles finally relaxing and my body settled.   I remember saying out loud, “oh thank god!!”.  I said that a couple of times before the doctor asked me if I was alright.  When I told him the pain was gone he smiled and said that was what was supposed to happen.  It was such a relief, I was the happiest person alive!!

 I had two blockages, one on my right side and one on my left side, in the LAD?.  I still don’t understand all of that, but that’s ok I have 3 stents in 2 blockages.  My LAD was the 100% blocked artery and he had to put a stent inside of a stent because my artery kept collapsing the single stent,  thus the 10X and 8X, they were stent sizes! Haha. The other artery was a 95% blockage. The 30 minute procedure took over 3 hours, and I was rolled back to my room.  I’ve had so much crap happen since then, that it really gets overwhelming and sometimes you think it’s winning.  I try my best to still be a strong guy and keep a good attitude. I’m not going to lie though, it’s a hard thing to accept knowing you’re not near the man you were 6 months ago.

w4

I did attend Cardiac Rehab, it was an important part of my recovery.  I loved it !  They were on me to keep my heart rate within reason as sometimes I would go too hard.  The nurses kept me in line lol.

My wife, I could not ask for anyone better.  She is concerned when I am concerned and OK when I am OK  The entire time at the hospital, the whole 4 days she stayed by my side.  We have been together since high school, we were prom King and Queen.  We have lived a good life together.

Advice I would tell others…..Quit smoking, don’t eat the fat stuff.  I do still spend time with my old crew just not as much.  I use to hang with them a lot, drink the beers and eat all the bad food.  They were very understanding when I made the changes.

I have had a great life, always have and I love it.

 I’ve already wrote a book here, so this is where I’m ending “me story”.. I hope I didn’t bore you all to death.

Wendell Laughter

HEART ATTACK STORIES- ONDRA ELDRIDGE- WE ALL BLEED RED.

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.

Today Please meet Ondra Eldridge.

ONDRA

Who are you ?  Name, current age, where are you from ? 

Ondra Eldridge  50  from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

How old were you when you experienced your heart attack?

 Just turned 50 in Sept 2014

Where were you when it happened?  Tell me your story.

 In Feb 2014 I had lost my job and after 30 years of working I became really stressed trying to find another job.  My last job was also stressful and I couldn’t handle the stress.  After losing my job I began looking everywhere and was really hard to find one with my experience and pay.  The days before the heart attack I realize now that,  I was really tired and having issues with heart burn.  I just shook it off and was eating the wrong foods.

On October 8, 2014 I was going over to my best friends to do my hair and spend some time with her.  We had just colored my hair and she was cutting hair when I realize I was getting pain in my chest and arms, then my back and jaws starting hurting really bad.  I told my friend something wrong and told her to get me some Aspirin.  I started not being able to breath and pain was getting worse.  My friend’s husband called  911 and luckily the fire station was down the street.  She told me they got there within 5 minutes and started working on me.

 I don’t remember a whole lot but they tried to put equipment on me to see what was going on but the  wires wouldn’t stay on me.  EMS showed up and started working on me and told my friend I was having a heart attack.  They then put me in ambulance and ran hot to Oklahoma Heart Hospital.  I was semi alert until I got to the hospital and then I passed out and don’t remember much after that.  I did come to after they put stent in and asked if I was alive.  Everyone was looking at me when I finally got to recovery.  I felt no more pain by then and was so thankful.

I found out that my triponon count was over 200 and I had to stay in Hospital for 4 days.  My doctor told my  family that If I didn’t think quick like I did I wouldn’t be here.  I found this out after.   My LAD was 99.9 blocked and I had Widowmaker Heart Attack.  It’ been 4 months since my Heart Attack and I am  feeling better every day.  Thank goodness for the knowledge of Doctor who said I had a horrible heart attack but easy fix.  I am thankful for everyday that I get to see family and friends.  Very thankful for my best friend and EMS and firefighter and doctor for saving my life.

What were your signs and symptoms?  Did you have any pre existing conditions or family history ?

Heart burn and really tired for three days before.  No Family history

How did this affect your life?  Physically/ Personally?

I have a harder time getting around like I used to but it gets better every day.  I haven’t really absorbed that I had a heart attack and I take one day at a time.

What lifestyle changes have you made ?  What are your struggles ?

 Eating better and trying to get back to my new normal.

Stents/ Zipper or Defib ?  What is your situation?

 I have a stent now.  Unable to work at this time but ready to work again.

What is most important in your post heart attack life?

Living better

Did you do Cardiac Rehab?  What has been the hardest part of your recovery ?

I had no insurance for rehab.

What are your new dreams ?

To get healthy again.

What do you wish you could do now that you never tried before but so wish you could?  Eg:  Skydiving.

 I have done a lot in my life.  Don’t really have any wishes except to live longer.

Who was there for you?

 My best friend.

Did you lose many people after ?

 No

What is the funniest thing someone has said or asked about your heart attack?

Did it hurt…lol.

If you could go back in the past how would you live your life differently?

 Yes, I’d take meds better.

What do you want more of in life ?

Health and happiness.

Is this the hardest thing you have ever experienced ?

 Losing my job.

What makes you great ?

My positive attitude.

What advice would you give to a healthy person?

Stay healthy and keep it up.

Ondra

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