Friday, February 01, 2008

Today is National Wear Red Day and My Story

Go Red For Women is a movement passionately dedicated to helping women fight back against heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women in America. By putting our passion together with positive action, we can continue to educate other women about their risks and help them find their own personal path to better health for life.
Quoted taken from the website.

I am going to tell you my story about my heart attacks, angioplasty and stenting because if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone. As women, wives and moms we are always the last to be taken care of. We ignore our aches and pains to take care of others.

I was given a few quilting magazines when I was in the hospital and in the $100,000 Quilting Challenge magazine on the third and forth pages was an ad for a Janome sewing machine, “The heart Truth”. This machine is to remind all women of a woman’s personal risk of heart disease.

Here are a few facts that I read on the pages that I did not know. More women die of heart disease than all cancers combined. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. Boy did this hit home and if I my friend Mark was not with me I would of broke down and cried like a baby.

Here is my story: On Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 I suffered my 5th Heart Attack in three weeks. On Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 I had Angioplasty and Stenting of the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery because of a 98% blockage. My first 3 heart attacks happened when I was in Florida with my son’s NJROTC unit. I had a cold and bad cough for a week and I thought it turned into pneumonia. When I was walking I was having chest pains across my chest but after an hour they would go away. Three times I felt excruciating pain in the center of my chest that radiated down my left arm, into my neck, right shoulder, between my shoulder blades in my back and I broke out in a cold sweat. The medics who were part of our chaperone team asked me if I would go to the hospital to be checked out and I refused. I kept telling them I have pneumonia and that I was OK. This is truly what I thought. I did not realize the chest pain I was having was classic symptoms of a heart attack. I also was keeping it a secret that I collapsed twice from the pain and not being able to catch my breath. With a family history of heart diseases and having talked about the symptoms of a heart attack I should have know better.

Once I got home from Florida the chest pain continued but I was still thinking I had pneumonia. On Saturday, Jan 12, 2008 once again I was having excruciating chest pain but this time it lasted 3 hours. I was with my husband at our son’s NJROTC Drill meet and he wanted to take me to the hospital but again I refused. On Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 I went for a 2-mile walk and felt great, no chest pain at all. 2 hours after the walk I began to have excruciating pain in the center of my chest that radiated down my left arm, into my neck, right shoulder, between my shoulder blades in my back and I broke out in a cold sweat and after 3 hour the pain did not ease. I called my husband at work and told him to come home because something was wrong and I needed to go to the hospital. I was still thinking I had pneumonia and if we went to the 24-hour treatment center I would get antibiotics and all would be well again. Within minutes of arriving at the treatment center I was given and EKG and was told I had a right bundle branch blockage and was having a heart attack. I also had a chest x-ray and my lung were clear, NO pneumonia. The doctor told me I needed to go the hospital ASAP and that an ambulance was call to take me there. I was given 4 baby aspirins and the first of 3 nitroglycerines pills. Once at the hospital I was given the last 2 nitroglycerines pills and a nitroglycerines patch was placed on my chest. I had a 12 lead monitor on my chest and at times I was able to see the screen and hear the alarms ringing. I could tell my blood pressure was very high (195/90) and my heart rate was all over the place (75 – 112), my oxygen levels were low even with the oxygen line in my nose and the EKG lines were bouncing all over the screen. Once in awhile a nurse would come running in my room to make sure I was OK, tell me to relax and asked if I was having chest pains. The baby aspirins and nitroglycerines pills did end my chest pains. I was moved out of the ER to a Medical Observation Unit for the night.

Early the next morning I had a echocardiogram and within seconds my cardiologists was notified and told the results. I over heard them talking about the 3 blockages, part of my heart was not moving and something was flopping around. I saw the something flopping around when I was having the echo and knew it was not a good sign. The cardiologists decided it was best to get me in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab ASAP. I was given IV blood thinners, medication to relax, signed consent forms and off I went.

My living will and Power Of Attorney for Health Care was signed and in my husbands hands just in case anything went wrong. I have very strong feelings what I want done just in case and what to do with my organs.

Once in the Cath lab all I wanted was to sleep but the Doctors kept waking me up and asking me questions. The medication I was given was outstanding because I really do not remember the next 24 hours. I underwent Angioplasty and Stenting of the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery to repair a blockage of 98%. At a later date (4 weeks) I will be having another Angioplasty and Stenting of the Right Coronary Artery to repair the blockage of 80%. For now the third 70% blockage on the left side will be left alone and watched.

Once in the CCU my family said I was in and out of it and really funny when I was trying to talk to them. I did crash in the first hour that I was in the CCU but was told this happens to younger people. Sometime during the night I ripped off the blood pressure cup and oxygen line causing the alarms to go off. The next day I rested in bed and did very little moving. The second day I was up sitting in chair and going to the restroom on my own. Most people can go home on the third day but because my white blood cells dropped very low I was in the CCU for a total of five days and then moved to CC floor. I have had blood cancer for 4 years so this was not new to me. Within 2 days my white cells increased and I was able to go home.

This past Monday I underwent a bone marrow biopsy and on Wednesday, the results of the biopsy showed no cancer cells were found. YEA!!!!! Because I still have a low cell count I will be having more blood test next week.

I am taking it easy, resting, taking my new medication, and eating healthier, taking the steps to change my life style to lower my risk of having another heart attack.

I want to live a long time and ensure this thing of ours lasts just as long.

The end to my story is On Wednesday; Jan 16, 2008 I almost died because I ignored what my body and heart was telling me. The chest pains I was feeling were signs to seek help ASAP and to take care better care of myself.

If you are having chest pains or just do not feel good seek help ASAP. Do not end up almost dead and with heart damage that cannot be reversed like me.

Please feel free to link to this posting, letting everyone know my story so lives can be saved.

Debbi (email)
©2006 - 2008 DubiQuilts


Tanya Brown said...

Thank you for sharing your story and trying to help others. You've had a dreadful time.

It may not help to know this, but what you experienced isn't uncommon. Back when I had to take medic first aid classes each year, the instructor would list off symptoms of a heart attack. It was startling when he wrote down the number one symptom:


Most or many people know that heart attacks can include chest pains that radiate into the arms. However, most of us don't know that they can come with a big dose of denial.

Women are especially prone to this. We don't want to trouble the folks in the emergency room. We don't want to bother our families or interrupt the party. Oh, it can't be a heart attack. It must be something like indigestion. Wouldn't we feel foolish if we went into the E.R. for a little heartburn?

I didn't believe the instructor until I saw it happen. It even happened to someone I knew who'd taken the same darned classes. He sat in his car in a parking lot just outside the emergency room, telling his wife over and over that he couldn't possibly be having a heart attack. Meanwhile, his heart suffered irreversible damage. Help was only a few feet away.

I hope that anyone who reads this longwinded comment will remember that. Thinking "Gosh, no; I can't be having a heart attack" can be a key sign that you're having one.

In the meantime, I'm very thankful that Debbi made that phone call and is still with us.

Anonymous said...

OMG! You are having a horrible time of it, aren't you? You can never remind people too often that we need to take care of ourselves. That includes you!! Give the sewing and blog a break if necessary.

Sweet P said...

I wore red yesterday and thought of you. Thank you for sharing your story. Now take care of yourself - one day at a time.

meggie said...

Debbi, thanks for sharing your story with us! How close you came to not being here! And how scary to realise that so many people dont heed the warnings.
Keep well.

julieQ said...

My dear husband had "heartburn". Funny, it was only on the treadmill!! He had 99% occlusion in his LAD. So I am so grateful that you got your fixed up!! Enjoy those walks, they are special...


CONNIE W said...

Thank you for sharing your story and thus spreading awareness. It can happen to anyone so being aware is critical. I hope you continue to improve and stay well. Best wishes.

Quilting Journey said...

Debbi, My thoughts, my prayers and every beat of my heart goes out to you. You are a survivor and you have survived to not only tell your story but save other lives. This is exactly how this is done and you are doing it. Know how much you are truly loved, and feel it in every fiber of your being! Gentle heart felt hugs to you and yours!!!!

Esteemarlu said...

I read most of your blog and all of your heart attack posts. I know most people see life totally different after going through a life and death experience. My son had cancer when he was 18 he is now 30 and lives everyday to it's fullest. I do my best to stay healthy. Thanks for your comment on my blog. Wishing you the best.