It was Easter Monday 2012 as I headed into my office, ladened with laptop in one shoulder bag and files in another; up the stairs I headed to my office. Half way up I had a pain in my chest down my left arm and up my neck into my teeth!! What the heck, I've gone and pulled a muscle in my neck or trapped a nerve...
I reach my office and am greeted by a co-worker, as we chatted the pain stayed, it didn't worsen but it did'nt go away. I heard a voice say "you're having a heart attack".... which I promptly ignored, for a heart attack would be much more severe. I surely would grab at my chest in severe pain perhaps even fall to the ground, and this pain on a scale of 1 to 10 barely reached a two. Heart attack? I think not. As I continued to speak with my co-worker two more times that pesky little voice said "you're having a heart attack."
I sit across from my co-worker still talking about his recent trip and life in general, my teeth still hurt, the chest pain is there but nothing to get excited about. Then for the fourth time I hear it again "you're having a heart attack." Ok ok I think to myself as I look at my co-worker and say, "somethings not right, I think I'm having a heart attack." He looks a little shocked... but within minutes we are on route to GBGH, (I was hoping I wasn't wasting anyones time but I had to listen to that voice it just wouldn't stop!) After my explanation to the triage nurse I am taken immediately, gowned, fed aspirin, IV, Morphine, ECG, Bloodwork, injection of blood thinners in the stomach . After a few ECG's and bloodwork off to the ICU I go.
You can imagine my surprise when the next day the doctor informed me I had had a heart attack! My response? A real one? (morphine had taken over my thought process I believe!) "Yes lassy" he said, "a real one." And there it was "my life re-defined in an instant."
A trip down to Southlake for an Angiogram (not fun, but well worth it), back to ICU at Midland where I stayed the rest of the week. A visit by the nutritionist to come and tell me off for my lifestyle.... only she couldn't, she was stunned as to what to tell me. I barely drink, never smoked, not overweight, vegetarian since I was six, I have a gym membership (I should use it I suppose) but really she didn't know what to say other than make sure you exercise.
The angiogram showed no blockages at all. As my cardiologist said I am in that group of people that have never been studied... "a perfectly healthy person that has a heart attack, no treatment studies have been done." So they put you on preventative medication for the rest of your life...
My life was changed on Easter Monday, I was always thankful for each day I had but moreso after that day. I know life can be taken in an instant, but in the busyness of being a single parent and working and volunteering and all the extra curricular activities that come with family life I may have forgotten to be vigilant in my appreciation for everyday... I was reminded.
I must thank the people in my life that stepped forward that day and that week to help with my children, and for the weeks that followed with gifts of food and their time. The people at Covenant Church showed me what community is all about and without a thought were there to assist. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all that helped me through this unplanned journey.
It's been seven months, lots of ECG's, bloodwork, Ultrasounds and stress tests later; the daily medication that stole about three months of my life with the awful side affects is now adjusted and with minimal side affects.
It's always with me, in the back of my mind, what if I hadn't heard that voice telling me what was happening, some may question what it was... I know.
Something else I now know is that a heart attack does not have to hurt, it can be relatively painless, but it should not be ignored. The symptoms can be so different for everyone. If it enters your mind for a moment that you may be having a heart attack DO SOMETHING! I could very easily have gone home, made myself a tea and waited for the pain to subside, had I done that? This story may have had a different ending.
Be good to yourselves and each other.
For more information about Heart and Strokes click here.