Women Heart Disease Survivor Stories
I no idea that by the end of July 12, 2016, I would be fighting for my life. It was an ordinary day, very hot, and with no warning, I had a heart attack at home. I had 98% blockage and 3 stents put in; Less than 16 hrs passed and a blood clot formed around one of the stents, a second massive heart attack followed.
I coded and was brought back. Was Lifeflighted to UH Cle after waiting for the 1st availability between them and Cleveland Clinic.
I went into cardiac arrest in the chopper and revived. Cardiogenic shock followed which has an 80% death rate, I was on emergency life support for 3 days, had a balloon pump inserted in my artery to keep my heart pumping, I had tubes and wires going into every artery keeping me alive.
I was going into organ failure and my kidneys shut down while Dr’s told Mike they had done all they could and the rest was in God’s hands. I can only imagine what my family was going through that first week, not knowing if I would survive. I know I had so many people praying for me it is overwhelming!
Coming off of life support was like a nightmare that I don’t remember. I pulled my own breathing tube out of my throat, chipping the inside of my front tooth. I was restrained to my bed with both arms and legs. I imagine a scene from The Exorcist. I remember nothing besides being more thirsty and hot than I ever was before. I thought I was dreaming, begging for water but only being allowed to suck on a wet sponge.
Finally, after 5 days, I became coherent and started learning about all I had been through. All Drs and nurses said it was a miracle I was still here. I heard the words “fiesty” and “a lot stronger than you look” multiple times! On the 3rd day of being alert Mike, Maddy and my MIL were just leaving after visiting and I had a tachycardia episode, just like the movies, all bells and whistles going off, Dr’s rushing into my room while my family was outside watching. I saw the heart monitor rise to 169 bpm…
I begged the dr working for me to not let me die. He gave me 2 shots that slowed my heart rate down. At that moment it was decided I would have a defibrillator/pacemaker installed before I was able to be discharged. I had to relearn to walk using a walker.
I had physical therapy in the hospital and there was a brief discussion of needing to go to an inpatient rehab facility. My legs felt like a foreign object on my body. My balance was off.
Almost 2 weeks in ICU and I was finally able to go home to a new lifestyle that I still cannot get fully used to. I was too weak to dress or bathe. I was nauseous from all the new medications and in bed sick as a dog almost every day, all day.
I couldn’t eat, couldn’t function. Maddy gave up her entire summer to take care of me, feeding me, washing couldn’t maintaining our house. Poor Mike was left with everything on him plus making all my dr appts, keeping track of everything, I don’t know how he did it. After a year, I’ve been in cardiac rehab for 6 mo trying to get stronger.
My heart is so badly damaged I have no circulation in my legs which makes it very hard for me to walk or even stand for long because they get fatigued and fall asleep easily. I have to use a wheelchair for long distances. I hate having to use that wheelchair. There is still some short-term memory loss from the lack of oxygen to my brain due to being brought back from the dead twice.
I can’t say it has been an easy road. There have been plenty of tears and frustrations while recognizing my new limitations. But…I am a SURVIVOR! I’m tough as nails and stubborn as hell, which is why the nurses said I came out the other side. Today I have many feelings. Gratitude to God for letting me see another day, sadness for losing my “old” life, anger for it happening in the first place. Overall, I hope I live a nice long life. Thank you all for caring. I love you.