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My Silent Heart Attack

Today is the day that I had a heart attack in 2018. I was 54 years old.

Today is August 21st, a day that stands out for me every year because of what happened to me and because I walked around for 3 DAYS having had a heart attack without even knowing! And on the day (August 24) that I found out, I was rushed into emergency heart surgery.

But, let's back up to August 21, shall we?

Four years ago on this date, I had my 6-month appointment with my endocrinologist for diabetes type 2 maintenance. We went through A1C numbers, blood checks, and overall "how are you feeling" conversation during the visit. While he was writing notes down, I casually mentioned that "I've added a cardiologist to my medical team because I started having burning in my chest earlier this month".

I vividly remember the doctor turning back to me quickly with a worried "You can't mess around with your heart. Diabetes and heart attacks are very serious". To which I replied, "I agree, doctor."

The heart drama started August 3 when I went to the ER where they performed triage to see if it was a heart attack. And I went home. Went to see a cardiologist the very next day (promised the ER doctor I would do this), who said my heart was FINE. I went through 3 weeks of experiencing burning in my chest that would go away , and was pretty much told that I "might have acid reflux".

(Read Patty's Bummer Summer for the full story)

So, back to August 21: Back home after the doctor, I started preparing the veggies for dinner: Sauteed onions, squash, and zucchini with olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning, tasting along the way. Delicious. I then waited for Gary to come home from the office so we have dinner together.

Well, around 8pm, I start having that burning sensation in my chest again and it's so strong I can't even eat dinner. I start feeling anxious and panicky. Start self-diagnosing b/c I've been told TWICE that my heart is okay. I even had a freaking stress test before this date! I hope the burning might lessen by drinking some milk to soothe my chest. Gary comes home, I tell him how I feel and, since I've been told TWICE (I will keep repeating this) that my heart is okay, he suggests I have some antacid, so I do. Then I put myself to bed and I remember being frightened about going to sleep, truly being afraid that something bad was going to happen to me if I did. But around 2am, I finally did fall asleep.

The next morning, I awoke feeling okay. The burning in the chest was gone, BUT my throat felt sore. That was new. I sent an email to the cardiologist advising what happened. The response I got was to go to the pharmacy to get some OTC remedies. So I did. I even went to breakfast that morning with a colleague!

Since everyone seemed to think my heart was okay, I called my GP for an appointment and went to see him on Thursday morning. I related the current situation and God bless him, he had the wisdom to say "I think this is your heart, not acid reflux".

To which I said, "Fast track me for a NUCLEAR STRESS TEST, please". And he did! He saved my life, actually.

My nuclear stress test was at 8am on Friday August 24, 2018. The test results were able to pinpoint that my heart attack HAPPENED WEDNESDAY NIGHT, August 21st.

The doctors were shocked that I was still alive because my heart was so clogged.I was on the operating table that morning at 11:30am in the hospital, where 2 stents were put in my heart. I'm thankful to my GP for saving my life. Thankful to my surgeon who is now my cardiologist (I fired the first one on the spot when I found out I'd had a heart attack 3 days earlier and had contacted her office and was not treated). And thankful that I PUSHED because I "didn't feel right".

I share this part of my story in hopes that you'll be PROACTIVE in getting your heart checked out annually and that you will pay attention when your body is telling you that something is very wrong!


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