I am a 62-year-old retired physician. My story began at age 47.
I was a very busy practicing OB/Gyn physician who was otherwise healthy.
I was on call at the hospital, and it was turning out to be one of the busiest days I had ever experienced as a physician. I was in a medical group that took call for 24 hours straight, most of the time working the entire 24 hours.
Halfway through that 24-hour call, I was in the operating room doing a C/Section on a patient. Halfway through the surgery I began to feel crushing chest pain.
While at work in September 2014, I lost vision of my left eye and had terrible feeling of “heat” all over the left side of my body.
The ER ophthalmologist directed me to cardiology for a vascular problem.
A week later, I could not walk 100 meters (325 feet) without crushing chest pain and shortness of breath.
I was no longer functional. Making my bed was all I could do in a whole day. I was no longer an active 54-year-old.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones.
I was a runner, triathlete, skier, scuba diver, etc. before my problems got severe enough to seek medical help.
Most doctors took my health decline seriously from the start.
Later, it was not uncommon for doctors who were unaware of my athletic endeavours to assume my subsequent lack of fitness was the cause of my condition rather than the result.
I had my first heart attack in 2018. I was 67 years old.
After numerous trips to the hospital, tests, and frequent heart attack-like symptoms, I was diagnosed with Prinzmetal Angina and placed on medications.
I lost weight. I exercised. I was finally feeling better. I even got back to my painting.
First came the headaches – worse than migraines – then the shortness of breath and having to lay down after crossing the room.
Five months after my symptoms began, I was diagnosed with a 99% blockage in my LAD and 99% blockage in an artery branch off that.
I was stented and, in doing so, they jailed an artery. I was given Metoprolol and I got worse.
I underwent another Angiogram, and all was fine, so they changed my medication and I began to use my Nitro more.
My first episode caught me completely off guard on a Sunday morning in 2014. I was an active, healthy 35-year-old mother of 3. It felt like what I imagined having a heart attack would feel like. After a minute or two it stopped as suddenly as it had started and I got out of bed to start my day, I had experienced palpitations before and brushed it off as a once off.
I had about 8 more episodes before lunch time and made a deal with myself that if it continued, I would call an ambulance. I was a busy mum and didn’t want to be ‘dramatic’! It resolved by 2 p.m.
In February 2020, I had a VF cardiac arrest.
My memories start a week after the event when I awoke in ICU.
I was confused and initially unable to move. My family were at my bedside and told me what had happened.
Amazingly, I had survived not only the arrest, but also aspiration pneumonia, sepsis and a stage 3 acute kidney injury requiring dialysis.
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