On January 4th, 1994, I suffered from a heart attack. I was only 33 years old. My youngest child was born three months earlier. I was holding him and feeding him a bottle when I felt shortness of breath and a little chest discomfort. Then my arm started to ache. I thought he was getting heavy, so I finished feeding him and laid him down. And that is how my story begins.
I thought I had a toothache, I thought I was having an anxiety attack, I thought I was going to get sick, I thought of everything except a heart attack. My mom called, I told her that I wasn't feeling right. She said to call the ER and to call her right back. The ER said that it sounded like angina and that I should come over to get checked. Till this day, I think my mom saved my life. I would not have gone to the hospital--in fact, I thought it was pretty ridiculous.
When I arrived at the ER, they took me right back and started hooking me up to IV, blood test, etc. I kept thinking that I was just having an anxiety attack and couldn't get it under control. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about and it was making me nervous. Then a cardiologist came in to talk to me, he said that I was having a heart attack. He gave me nitroglycerin and a shot of TPA. I laid there thinking, am I going to die here in the ER? I knew nothing about heart attacks except what you see on TV: man grabs his chest, falls to the floor, the end. He tried to reassure me that I was going to be just fine, but I didn't believe him. He is still my cardiologist today, 19 years later.
The sad part is that until last May, I didn't know what to believe. Because of the so called "rare" heart disease, Spontaneous Coronary Artery Disection (SCAD), that I was diagnosed with was never researched. I was told that most people do not survive a SCAD. I didn't know anything and couldn't find any information about SCAD. My doctors explained that it is very rare and believe it is caused by hormones during pregnancy and suggested that if I didn't get pregnant again, SCAD would not happen again.
18 years later, I decided to check for information again and I found it! I found a SCAD Survivor Group on Facebook. I learned so much this past year about SCAD I feel like I woke up from a bad dream. The group consists of approximately 300 people world-wide, mostly young, healthy women, Not all due to pregnancy.
I am on a mission to spread awareness. Research at the Mayo Clinic is underway and has begun to unravel the mystery of SCAD. To learn more about SCAD, go to www.scadresearch.org. I believe this research will prove that this is not as rare as previously believed to be and will help save many lives in the future. This is just the beginning. Thanks for reading my story and Bless Your Heart!
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