Monday, November 26, 2012

The Heart of the Matter......

November 9th, 2012 was the day my life changed forever. I was talked into writing about it by some good friends and for those of you who are new visitors and friends, I'm going to repost it in the hopes that it will help someone if they or someone they know are ever find themselves in the same situation.   

Two weeks ago on Friday, November 9th (2012) at 6:15 in the morning I had a life changing experience.  I wasn't sure I was going to post about it but a couple of my good friends insisted that I  do because they thought that it was something most of us as women don't really know or think about.

Soooo, here goes!
At 6:15am on Friday, November 9th, I had an almost fatal heart attack.
I went from someone who at 62 is never sick to someone as Fred Sanford would say, "It's the big one, I'm having the big one"! It's not at all what I would have expected if I'd ever thought about it, which I hadn't, never thinking it would happen to me. It all started on Thursday night while I was watching TV,  I got a very slight dull ache or pain, in the middle of my chest, it came and went, just a little flutter. Then, my arm felt a little weird, not tingly or really numb, just weird and not necessarily at the same time. This came and went, not really strong, just strange. Then, a couple of times the arteries on both sides of my neck kind of tightened up, like  you're straining or something.  The thought did cross my mind that this could be something with my heart but I didn't take it serious. This came and went till about 11:30 when I went to bed.  I figured that if it kept up, I would go to the walk-in clinic we always went to in the morning.  Near FATAL MISTAKE NUMBER 1!  I should have went to the emergency room then, just in case, but, no, I went to BED!   When I laid down, I really felt funny and had to sit up for a few minutes but then was OK.   Even then I still was in denial, when I said my nightly prayers, I put in a little PS.  just in case I didn't wake up, still thinking it wasn't serious, couldn't be happening to me, (never hurts to cross your Ts and dot your Is, just in case)!  Even after doing that, I still didn't think it was really anything to be worried about  I went back to sleep and woke up again at 3am, this time it was worse, sat up and waited for it to pass, then laid back down and went back to sleep.  ( in hindsight, how CRAZY was that)!  I can't really describe the feeling, not  painful, just the dull ache in my chest, a little weak and weird feeling in my arm. You'd think I'd have gotten the picture by then but, no, still in denial.  At 6:15 I woke up and knew something was terribly wrong.  I was still having the strange feeling in my chest, just a dull ache, but both my arms were feeling really odd, ( of all the symptoms, that was the worst),  the only way to describe it is kind of numb but more creepy, like nothing I'd ever felt and I was also starting to feel weak all over which was getting worse by the moment.  I happened to look over at my nightstand and sitting there was a bottle of aspirin.  Normally I don't have any upstairs but I had changed purses a few days before and had taken it out to put in the cabinet downstairs but didn't, left it there.  I thought seeing it that I might as well take two just in case this was really a heart attack like they say you are supposed to, so I did.  Later, the Dr. said that was a good thing and might have made all the difference! A little background,  My dad had had 3 heart attacks with the third one being fatal.  My sister and I talked about it after my experience and I guess in both our minds it was a man thing so it never dawned on us that we might have something to worry about.  Up till this point, in retrospect, I'd had about 10 hours advance warning that I disregarded, thinking it wasn't serious or that it couldn't be real, not happening to me!  Now, I was  pretty dang scared.  I started getting dressed and called my oldest son's phone to wake him up but he didn't answer.  He usually got  home around midnight from work.  Our bonus room is set up like an apartment with a bed and couch, TV, etc. and that's where he's been staying since returning home from the service.  I managed to look out my door and saw the bonus room door was open, he always kept it closed so I thought he wasn't home.  I didn't know that that night of all nights, he had gone to bed in the guest room.  My middle son's door was closed so I knew he was still home even though he usually leaves for work at 6am.  It just so happened that morning he didn't have to go in till 7 so he was still home.  I knocked on his door and told him he needed to take me to the emergency room.  By this time I was getting really weak and he had to help me down the stairs and into his truck which I have a hard time getting into under normal circumstances cuz it's pretty high up off the ground.   Near FATAL MISTAKE NUMBER  2!   I should have called 911 but it never crossed my mind to do that even though the Fire/Paramedic station is less then half a block down on my street and they go past all the time, we drove right by.   Fortunately for me the hospital is only about 10 minutes from here but it could have been 10 minutes to far.  I was very LUCKY!  By now I was very weak and told Aaron to pull up in front and get me a wheel chair from inside the door cuz I couldn't walk ,( knew where they were from the time I'd been there with Kate and Kailyn when she had to have stitches from a fall).  When we went in, he told them what was happening and we were taken right into the office where they started asking me questions like did I smoke, drink, had I had previous episodes or was sick, answer to all was no and at that point I was really getting weak and said I thought I was going to pass out, their response was no, don't do that,  (lol),  must have even though I didn't think I had cuz my daughter said when she got there I was hooked up to IVs, on the gurney in a room, which I have no recollection of that happening.  The next thing I remember was seeing  my daughter holding Kailyn with Aaron and Chris all sitting there across from me and me thinking I'm still in the office in a chair while they were trying to get an IV into my left arm and the nurse saying she couldn't get it in and the other nurse saying forget it, we have one in the other arm and we've got to go now!  Instead on being in the office sitting in a chair like I thought, I was on a gurney in a room but don't remember any of that happening. The last thing I do remember was them pushing me very fast down the hall and another gurney coming out from a side hall and almost colliding with us.  After that, nothing. The next thing I remember, it was morning and I was  awake in a bed with the Dr. talking to me and telling me I was very lucky that I got there when I did, that most women DON'T MAKE  IT to the hospital and that it had been very serious.  He told me that they had put a stint in one artery cuz it was 90% blocked and that the other one was 60% blocked but that they were going to try to dissolve it with medication.  Your heart should be pumping at a rate of 55 to 65% and mine was pumping at 35%  which isn't as bad as it sounds.  I don't remember waking up, just sitting up talking to him like normal, feeling fine, no pain at all and LIKE NOTHING HAD HAPPENED!  Now that was WEIRD!  I had no pain at all and felt fine, hard to grasp that I had really come close to not making it. They kept me in the critical care unit for 4 days then moved me to a regular room on Monday and then I came home Tuesday night.  It's very surreal, maybe because there really wasn't a lot of pain or that when it hit, it happened fast and then I was awake and feeling fine.  It made it really hard to believe I actually had a heart attack.  That's been one of the hardest things, to realize that it really happened and that it was almost fatal, maybe because it didn't really HURT.  I'm on medication now, forever, and that 24 hrs a day for 3mos I have to wear a emergency defibrillator "just in case".  It's like a bra with no cups and the battery pack hangs down in the back, it's about the size of a large canteen, heavy and very annoying!  You can hook it to a strap like a purse and support it that way (it's heavy and swings all over the place) or on a belt, which is a lot easier but still awkward.  The worse thing is when you forget about it and get up and it swings all over! It  didn't take me long to switch to wearing it on a belt which was the lesser of 2 evils. (can I really say that about something that's purpose is to save your life, oh yeah)!  If anything were to happen, it would zap me with 150 volts and supposedly "bring me back from wherever I went, ( hopefully heading up)!  What I've been told is that  the front of my heart was weakened but if I take my medication, take in no more then 2000 mil. of salt per day and walk 20 to 40 minutes every day for the next 3months, my heart  could be pretty close if not all the way back to normal pumping rate.  Update, my pumping % did not go up but stayed at 35% which like I said earlier, is not perfect but not all that bad).  This past Friday was 3 weeks and I feel good, just get tired easily but the more I walk and get that blood flowing it will be better.  The Dr. also told me that heart attacks in women have a tendency to be fatal because they  DON'T GO TO THE HOSPITAL!  I thought that having a heart attack would be excruciatingly painful, not so!  What I found out later was that a lot of times it might not be painful at all, it could be just an annoying ache and arm weirdness like I felt, could be an ache in your jaw, etc, who would associate that with a heart attack, not me!  It's nothing like what most men feel and in a way I get why women don't go, it doesn't really hurt, mine didn't anyway and I think we have a tendency to think if something doesn't hurt or we don't feel that bad we can tuff it out or IGNORE it and it will go away!  When it gets to the point I was at, at the end,  you know you have to go but for some, by then it could be to late because they might not have as much time as I had from when I woke up at 6:15 till I got to the hospital,  I had about 30 minutes before it went into full heart attack mode. I WAS VERY LUCKY to have had that time.  From when I first started feeling weird that evening till  that morning, I actually had about 10 hours advanced warning.   I can't help but think if I'd just gone then, maybe they could have done what was needed to be done and I wouldn't have had a full blown attack and no heart damage, but, that's all water under the bridge.  I'm feeling fine and go back to the heart Dr. this Friday and hopefully he'll say things are coming along well.   Soooo, the moral to this story is, if you feel something isn't right even though you're not in a lot of pain, GO TO THE HOSPITAL or DOCTOR and have it checked out.  Better safe then seeing the light, which, by the way, I didn't see!  Hopefully that means it wasn't close to my time, not that I was going somewhere else!
Update, in February, I went back and had what they call a minor surgery, I had a small defibrillator, not a pacemaker, implanted under the skin right below my left shoulder.  It's a little bigger then a match book, you can barely tell it's there.  If my heart was to start beating irregularly or stop, it would shock it back into a normal rhythm or restart it if it had stopped.  Some friends, (or are they), have since told me that if it does go off, it packs a wallop and would knock me down and I guess unconscious!  Thanks guys, too much information!  Now isn't that's something to look forward to, hopefully NOT!  I'm thinking positive here!
  I had no idea what a heart attack was like and as far as that goes, haven't known any women that have ever had one. The only other weird thing is, or, maybe it's just me but I kind of feel embarrassed to tell people I had a heart attack, almost like I did something wrong.  I don't know why, or where that's even coming from, but I am getting over it.
 One last thing that that cracks me up, or  maybe I  just have an very weird sense of humor,
 that weekend I was supposed to go to my best friend's daughter's wedding in Savannah.  It so happened that my daughter who was supposed to go with me had come down with a bug and her husband was out of town and at that particular time, no one else was available to take care of Kailyn till she felt better, I decided to stay home and help her.  This is the part that I find totally ironic.  If I had gone, I was supposed to leave Thursday and spend the night at her house in Statesboro along with another of her good friends, Shirley and her husband and then drive to Savannah Friday morning.  OK, here it comes, guess what Shirley does for a living.......
She's a UNDERTAKER!!  Well, really she's a funeral director who owns her own funeral home!
It cracks me up every time I think about it!  Am I weird or what!!
I'm doing fine, feel great and plan to be around at least as long as my Mom who is going to be 85 in February, and, I'm  planning on seeing that sweet baby girl grow up!

Till next time......thank goodness there will be!
 It's been 5 years now, (11/2017), and I'm  doing fine, no problems at all, looking forward to staying healthy and around for a lot more years!  Hope this helps shed a little light on what the symptoms are and what to look for if you or someone you know is in the same situation!
Just a little more information, more women die from heart attacks every year then all kinds of cancer combined! Now, that's a statistic to think about!

After all that, I need a good party so this week you can find me at:


Olive said...

Rebecca, I am so sad this happened to you but happy you survived this MI. I do talk nurse speak still. Women do have different and far more subtle signs and symptoms as you have so well written first hand about. Bless you and may God keep you well, Olive

Blondie's Journal said...

Oh, Rebecca...I was reading your post like a novel! The whole time I was thinking..."Call 911". I'm so glad you made it to the hospital and are now doing well. I hope a great number of women read your post and remember these warning signs. Keep up the exercise and stay more close calls!


Anne said...

Rebecca thank you for sharing your story! I am so glad you are alright and got to the hospital in time!

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

How frightening! You are very lucky that you made it to the hospital when you did. Somebody was looking out for you.

I'm so glad things turned out as they did and by telling your story, you may save somebody else's life down the road. Thank you so much for sharing today, Rebecca, and enjoy watching your granddaughter grow up. :@


Jen said...

Oh dear Rebecca, I know that was hard for you to do, but I'm glad you told us. I've heard that women's symptoms are not a strong as men, and that there isn't as much awareness of heart attacks for women, so anything that can be done to increase awareness is good.

I'm so glad there was a hospital close and that you are on the mend. Thank you for sharing.



Sweet Posy Dreams said...

Bless your heart, Rebecca! (Or maybe you don't feel so much like blessing it after the trick it played on you.) I am so glad you are going to be okay. How fortunate your son was there to get you to the hospital. Thank you for telling your story.

Jann Olson said...

Oh my gosh Rebecca this is really scary. I am so thankful that you are alright. I am going to keep this in mind. I think it would be easy to deny that it is anything that serious. Thanks goodness that your son was home and got you there in time. My prayers will be with you. Thanks for sharing this with Share Your Cup.

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

Rebacca, I received your reply, but I doubt if you received mine, so here's a link to hopefully change your setting:

Have a good day!

Anonymous said...

dera lord above, what an amazing story, you are so very lucky, please do everything your are told, this is your second chance,you are not a cat, you do not have nine lives! That is just amazing, I will keep you in my prayers,

Two Vintage Sisters - Robin and Pam said...

I'm glad you are doing better! I was just thinking about you tonight. Seriously, if you need anything just let me know. I drive by your house on my way to/from work every day! Robin

Tina@WhatWeKeep said...

Oh, Rebecca! This scared me to death~ I'm so glad that you are okay!
I'm so glad that you shared this with us. You read things like this, but like you said, you always think you'll know for sure if you are having a heart attack because there will be lots of pain. I understand that you have the strange feeling of embarrassment...I had a stroke 4 years ago at 46 and had no symptoms other than my words were mixed up and I had a headache for a day. I though strokes happened to elderly sick people...not me.
Rest and take care of yourself and get that butt moving on your walks, girlfriend! Elizabeth Sanford is going to have to wait a long time to see you! (I loved that show)
Hugs, hugs, hugs and yes, weird friend, you made me laugh with the funeral home quip! You gotta laugh! Life is funny, even when it's not. :)
Be well, Rebecca~
xo, Tina

outjunking said...

Thank you Lord Jesus for letting us keep Rebecca. Please take care and thank you for sharing. You told it beautifully, a tear ran down my face that could be anyone of us at anytime.

Susan ~ Southern Fascinations said...

Rebecca.. Thank you for sharing. I don't think we can be reminded enough that our symptoms are different from those experienced by men. YES, we do tend to think that we don't need to make a fuss so we'll just see how things are in the morning! Thankfully, you were able to receive the treatment needed to get you on the mend. Take care ... and bless your heart! Susan

Jody and Stan said...

Rebecca, Thanks so much for sharing your story on Simple & Sweet Fridays. Hopefully your experience will inspire us all to look for the signs of what you went through. So happy you're feeling better and am looking forward to hearing more good news!


Vicki said...

OMG, Rebecca. I am so glad you are recovering. My mom had a heart attack in 2001 and did the same thing. She had all the same warning signs and took 12 hours to mention to my dad. It was the middle of the night. He did call 911 and she nearly died twice before they got her to the hospital. Thank you for posting this. You may save a life by making people aware. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Follow drs orders on exercise, food and meds so you can get back to your old self and ditch the "canteen."

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Oh for heaven's sake! I'm so glad you stopped by my place. Because you could!! Sounds like it could have been the worst. Take good care. I appreciate your comment so much. Glad you like the tablescape. I hope your Christmas is especially wonderful this year.


Åh dear Rebecca, so scary. I am so glad for your comment and that you are better. Reading your story was so good, this can happen to anyone.
Best wishes and be well.
Hugs and love

Teresa@oursoutherncountryhomeandfarm said...

OMG Rebecca! Ok, I won't ramble on with a serman, but as a nurse, ok.... I won't get started. It just plain was not your time to go is all I can say. Girl, you are so lucky. I am also so sorry I am just now seeing this post. So glad your on the road to recovery. You'd better take care of your self and do as the dr. says. I will send you an e-mail in just a bit.

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Oh wow! What a frightening experience! I am so glad you decided to share your story, you just never know who could be helped by hearing about this. I probably would have passed it off as nothing also, but it's a good thing you got to the hospital when you did. I hope you're doing well and that you make a complete recovery.

Rubye Jack said...

First of all, I'm glad you made it to the hospital in time.

This was really good for me to read because sometimes I get bad heart burn and think heart attack, but I had no idea that a heart attack might not be painful. I'm like you and would have waited also. For me it's too much pride. Anyway, I hope you stay well now.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, Rebecca. I don't know whether I want to give you a hug or slap you on the back of the head for ignoring all those signs! Goodness. I am SO glad you are okay. What a scary experience. I will certainly remember this for future reference (hopefully VERY far off future) that a woman can experience a heart attack without feeling intense pain. Or maybe we are just better at handling it then men? I think it's definitely in our genetic makeup to wait as long as possible before we get help - we don't want anyone to make a fuss over us for nothing. But in your case, that was definitely not nothing! As annoying as it is, I'm glad you've got that defibrilator around, just in case. I'm going to say a little prayer of thanks for you, and hope that you never have to experience this again!!

craftyles said...

So glad you are on the mend. It's good to hear a first hand story-maybe that will help one of us, get to the doctor someday. Thank you!

The French Hen's Nest said...

Hi Rebecca. I found you at Brambleberry Cottage and am so glad I did! You will never know how many lives you saved with this post! I am so happy you survived to live and enjoy all that God has given you. Maybe your purpose now is to spread the word. Women are so used to taking care of everyone else that we minimize our own pain- discomfort. May God bless you for sharing your story.

Linda @ The French Hen's Nest (please visit us anytime)

Julie Maloney said...

I was absolutely riveted to this post. I now know what to look for in case anything like this happens to me. I just found out I have high cholesterol and I'm only 35 so I'm very health conscious all of the sudden. I'm very glad you're on the mend and thank you for sharing this story!

Irfan Butt said...

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bobbie said...

As an ICU/CCU nurse, I'm really glad that a) you are alive and that b) that you've posted about it.
The "pain" of a heart attack in women is so very often not what we think of as true pain, and is FAR too often ignored, as you found out.
Please,ladies ~ do NOT ignore anything even remotely 'off' going on in your body!! And fer hevvins, sake ~ call 911!!! That way, if your heart stops, the EMT's can get it going again!

bobbie howder R.N. CCRN

Evelyn said...

I am so glad you shared this. We all need to sit up and take notice. Yes, we as women always downplay ourselves. I am so glad you are OK and now maybe with this story, I will get up and walk every day.

Hope you are having a Merry Christmas!

Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Rebecca. I've heard so many times that the symptoms can vary a lot between those experiencing them. We all need to listen a bit more carefully to our bodies, don't we?

I'm so glad you're OK, and hopefully you'll even make it beyond the age of your mom. ;)

Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage

JunkStuffTreasures said...

Just reading this post now (a month later)- you were very lucky indeed. Glad all worked out for you and thanks for reminding us "better safe than sorry" when it comes to our health. Have a very Happy New Year!