Share Your Story: Angela Kooi

On February 27, 2014, I was admitted to Borgess Hospital after being in and out of other hospitals for several weeks with heart-related symptoms (heart racing, dizzy spells, blurred vision, etc).  

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Several tests were run and despite a few elevated EKGs and occasions of catching a heart rate spike on the monitor, I was given the all clear and was ready to be sent back home. But, I know my body and knew this was not normal by any means. Thankfully the staff at Borgess hospital listened as I expressed my concerns, and finally, I was admitted.  Within 10 minutes of being admitted into my room and sending my family home I fainted.  My heart completely stopped - flat lined.  I woke to about 30 people in my room working frantically on me. They informed me that they thought they were going to have to “declare” me … what declare me dead?  As I spent the night in ICU I thought a lot.  I thought what if I hadn’t been persistent in explaining something wasn’t right and the need to stay that night in the hospital. What if I actually died? What would my husband and kids have done? What could I have done to avoid this?  The next morning I woke up to hear my husband and dad discussing options with the cardiologist.  The next thing I knew I was a 36-year-old with a pacemaker. I am alive, I am thankful and I am more knowledgeable. 

What did I learn?

Recognize the Symptoms. Get checked.  I had symptoms for several weeks and could have been more persistent with my doctor or gone directly to ER.  At times I made excuses for symptoms instead of addressing them.  I am young; there was no way I had heart issues, right? Wrong!  Symptoms of potential heart related issues include: heart palpitations, irregular or rapid heartbeats, discomfort in chest area, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or light headedness.  Some of the symptoms may be vague.  Address symptoms with a doctor. It is common -- and often fatal -- to wait too long before getting help

Monitor/Document. Know your Body.  When going to the doctor I couldn’t always remember the symptoms from the days prior or if there was something that triggered my heart palpitations.  Having a log of my blood pressure/heart rate, along with the activity during those times and how I felt during those times was helpful when talking to doctors.  Telling the doctors that I know my body and that what I was going through was not right was critical in getting the help needed.

Find an outlet/make time for yourself.  Managing multiple priorities such as work, kids and home can undoubtedly be stressful.  I tried all the standard stress-relieving activities such as deep breathing, walking and yoga, but none of these seemed to work for me.  Find what works for you or brings you peace.  I learned that my “me” time or outlet was crafting, which gives me a sense of peace.



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