My heart attack experience.

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wcr

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Wednesday evening after work Terry and I were putting up a swimming pool and I felt a pain in my chest. It stopped me dead it was so sharp but was quickly gone so I went about my business. We ate dinner late and I was sitting on the couch and said I don't feel so good and am going to bed. This was at 9 pm. I tried to read but started having pain in my throat (not really my jaw or neck but in my throat). My chest was hurting from about my nipple line up (that's nipple line where they should be , not where they are now) and my back hurt. The points of my shoulders ached and my left elbow ached.

I am a nurse with 30 years experience, 18 of which as an ER nurse. I have taken care of many heart attacks, many successful and many not. I am lying in bed going through the check list in my head. Ok, I have pain in my chest. Does it feel like an elephant sitting on my chest? No. Is it heavy pressure? No. What does it feel like. It aches, almost a spasm type pain but constant and it has a tingling feeling to it. Tingling? Never heard that before but it does feel kinda tingly. Does it radiate to my back, yes. Does it radiate down my left arm? That's an interesting question because both my shoulders ache and hurt (they have always talked about left arm pain). Yeah, there is pain in my left arm but radiating? To me radiating would mean the whole arm but instead I feel it more in my elbow and a twinge in my wrist. More the joints than my whole arm. Am I diaphorectic ( to the lay person this means are you sweating like a pig), no. Are you short of breath, no.

Denial is a wonderful place to live but I knew something was going on but really questioned it even with my training and experience. I couldn't get comfortable in bed, it wouldn't go away. Terry came in at 10:30 and I said I needed to go to the ER. Poor man, he was dead tired and only wanted to sleep. At this point I threw up twice and got dizzy. He said I am calling 911.

THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!!! I would have died if he had taken me to the hospital in our car! It is about 45 minutes to the hospital from our house. The paramedics are 2 miles from us. They got there very quickly but I was falling apart rapidly between calling them and their arrival. My heart rate went into the 20's (normal 60-100) My blood pressure when they could get it was 40/20. Without them getting there when they did I would have died. They started working on me and called the other ambulance so I had a 2 paramedic team transporting me to the hospital, lights and siren.

If I had gone in our car I would have died on the way. What would Terry have done? he can't do cpr and drive at the same time. Does he keep driving and end up at the ER with a dead body? He was already freaked out but think of the anguish of being in the situation to have to make that decision. And what if he wasn't here and I tried to drive myself. I would go unresponsive and have an accident, hopefully not killing anyone when I did. That is why they always say call 911.

By this time Iwas hurting pretty bad but they couldn't give me pain meds because of my blood pressure so they started me on a dopamine drip, a fluid bolus until it came up enough to have pain meds. They are doing 12 lead ekgs in the field so they transport straight to the hospital that has a cath lab because time is muscle as they say. Meaning the quicker they can open the artery and return the blood flow to the part of the heart that wasn't getting oxygen because of the blockage, the less damage done to the heart muscle.

They radioed the hospital and the cath lab team was waiting by the time I got there and got me right into the lab and put a stent into my heart(a mesh kind of like the chinese handcuffs we played with as kids) From the time I started having pain until they opened up the artery was about 2 1/2- 3 hours. I am very lucky because my heart is injured and will take time to heal but the permanent damage will be minimal for the long term effects.

The tough part will be the life style changes. I am day 4 without cigarettes but doing ok since I have really good incentive to quit. I am trying to be positve about the dietary changes but can't help thinking of it as eating bark and twigs. Good fiber, low sodium, low fat, low sugar, I'm overweight and need to lose weight. Boy, that just took all the fun out of life. This week I turn 56, no cake and ice cream for me, pass the jello please.

I am alive. Those 3 words are inconsequential until you are put into the position to say them and mean them with every damaged fiber of your heart. I am a trained professional but things could have gone much differently because when it happened to me I thought as a person and not really as a professional. Denial and downplaying the significance of warning signs is human nature.

This is long but I hope you will read it and remember it if you are ever in this situation. Men and women are not created equal and all the warning signs we hear about usually refer to men and you hear this vague thing about women not having the classic syptoms. It is better to be safe than sorry.
 

FairytailGlennMinis

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First off--I am SO glad you and your husband reacted when and how you did and that you will make a full recovery. I hope you don't mind me adding my recent experience to the thread. It was almost 4 weeks ago that my husband got really sick with flu-like symptoms--coughing, congestion, fever---it was like a bad cold only with a fever that broke in bad sweating spells. I had been sick with the same thing a week prior but where I got over it his got worse. We had JUST moved into our new house and he was worn out so it was easy to overlook the extreme fatigue. He was unable to sleep at night and awoke with drenching sweats and his heart racing. He never deals with change well, so we thought it was anxiety about the new house and all the changes. He was also having pains in his left arm--right where he had torn the bicep muscle three months ago--again, easy to explain away. He was a couple weeks shy of 38 years old, 6'1" and 200lbs--in good shape. I kept trying to get him to go to the doctor and he wouldn't do it. He has only been to a doctor 4-5 times in the 14 years I have known him. Two and a half weeks ago he woke me up at 4am and told me that he hadn't slept at all...that his heart was racing and he was SO frustrated. I wanted to call 911 but he said that would just stress him out more, but we would go to the doc as soon as the offices opened. Because he would cough and cough all night we both thought he had pneumonia or something--a heart attack had never entered either of our minds.

We were at the doctor's office at 8am and his blood pressure was sky high. The doc thought panic attack and gave him 2 valiums and a nitro with another nitro tab about 15 minutes later. Hubby's bloodpressure continued to slowly rise and they rushed him over to the ER. He was having off and on bad sweating and his face was grey. At the hospital they did EKGs, Xrays, got him on an IV drip with blood pressure meds and nitro but his BP cont. to go up and he was delerious--BP went up to 210 over 147. The next thing we know a cardiologist was brought in and was telling us that he had a heart attack and we had to get him into surgery right away. They were going in as a cardio cathaterization and what they did would go from there. I certainly didn't understand anything when they kept pressing on his belly and fingers and neck. About the time the surgery should have been over an assistant came out and told me that they were preparing an emergency flight to another neighboring city to do a bypass, that he had multiple blockages. She asked about a will, living will and if he had other family. About 30 minutes later she came back in and said it looked like we may not be having to go to the other hospital, that the doc had gotten a stint in place. I found out later (and even saw the video of the imaging on the computer!) that he was in the beginnings of cardiac arrest and they about lost him just as the stint popped into place and the blood started flowing again. Four days in ICU and a couple more in a regular room and they sent him home.

In the end we know that he had a heart attack about a WEEK before and another one 6 months or more before that. We did not know the signs and we were able to "explain away" what we did know. In the end it was a clot that caused the emergency situation and if we had reacted sooner we could have avoided much of the permanent damage. He has congestive heart failure with fluid that had built up around his heart and lungs, had an infection around the heart. If we had only known and reacted sooner he might not be dealing with only 40% of his heart still working and requiring the extensive meds and diet and the lengthy cardio-rehab. In the end he WILL be okay, but I sure wish we had known and reacted sooner. As said above, act quickly, don't wait and don't explain the signs away! Those seconds and minutes count and not acting can leave with irreparable damage.

Sorry--I hope this doesn't seem like hijacking a thread--it is just another warning to know the signs and to react quickly!
 

minie812

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Wow Kathi, I am so glad you are here for another B-day. I to worked in healthcare for years and sometimes it is hard to acknowledge when something is going on with ourselves and our own health. Sometimes the warning signs are not textbook. My mom died many years ago at the age of 57. she had some tingling in her lt arm on a Sunday and died of a massive heart attack that following Monday morning at work. She was a heavy smoker. My birthday is the 21st of this month and I will be 55 (still alive) and even with health issues I am soooo thankful to be here....Happy Birthday(a little early)
 

Margo_C-T

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I just want to say that I'm so glad to hear that you are on the road to recovery! Change can be very hard, but as you said, you are ALIVE....and the changes will help you STAY that way! (I stopped smoking almost 25 years ago, after 25 years AS as smoker, and have NEVER regretted it! And when you 'wrap your mind' around it, it really ISN'T that hard-ESPECIALLY when you have a compelling reason....)

I also want to say a heartfelt 'thanks' to you for telling us all of your experience, and reminding us about the importance of using the resource of 911, as well as to take the symptoms seriously and NOT 'practice' denial! You have performed a VALUABLE service to all who read your story!!

Again, the VERY best wishes for your continued recovery!!

Gratefully,

Margo
 

Sterling

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Thank you so much for sharing your experience with all of us here on the forum. I did not know of the signs you have just experienced, as I had always thought the classic signs were the other ones you mentioned. I am going to tell my friends and family about this. I thank you again for sharing.....I'm so glad that you are ok.
 

Rebecca

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So glad you are ok and recovering. My grandfather has had 3 heart attacks and is still alive and now doing quite well because he didn't wait but got immediate care. I hope you recover as quickly as possible and happy early birthday!
 

Mona

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WOW Kathi, how scary!! I am sure glad all is OK now, and thankful you waited on the ambulance and never went into town on your own! What is really frightening is knowing you are a nurse and have been in the field for so many years and still second guessed the situation. I guess that is why/how so many others get into trouble. Happy Birthday, and so glad you are here to celebrate it, even if you do have to pass on the cake and ice cream
 

Minxiesmom

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Hi Kathi,

Thank God you came through this. Thank you for being so descriptive of the symptoms you went through. Maybe it will help me or someone else know what is going on if it ever happens. Sandy gave us an update yesterday, but I am happy to see your post. At least you are up for that.

If I can help you in any way, please let me know. I went through the quit smoking thing about 8 years ago, then two years ago I lost the weight. There are ways to do it so you don't feel like you are eating bark and twigs.

Happy Birthday.

Diane in OR
 

Magic

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Oh wow, Kathi!! That was WAY too close!
Thank goodness you are ok and on the mend! Thanks so much for sharing your experience (you too, FairyGlen Minis!). You may just well be saving more lives by sharing your experiences!
 

kaykay

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So good to see you posting!! I was so worried when I read the thread that you had a heart attack. Thank you so much for your post. I have always read that women have heart attack pain much different then a man does. Your post may save another life!

Kay
 

Denise

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That's a little to close for comfort!

You've got someone above watching out for you.

So glad all is well and your back on the mend!
 

sundaymom

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Thank you so much Kathi for taking the time to post how this all developed. I think it is so helpfull to hear first hand the different ways this deadly killer can effect both men and women.

I want to thank fairytailglennminis for sharing her experince also.

I, like you Kathi, try sometimes to tough things out and have been lucky. One thing I will take to heart is to call 911 instead of driving to town, as I live far out of town also.

Will be praying everything from here on gets better with each passing day. You are so blessed to have received another chance to be with your family, friends and loved ones.
 

Vertical Limit

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Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. So many times people are just looking for that squeezing pain where you clutch your heart. I am so glad everything turned out the way it did.

Take care yourself.

Carol
 

nootka

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I am so glad you're alright...and thank you for the story, though I hope I never experience that situation, I now will know more about what might be going on.

Take care!

Liz
 

Shari

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twister

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Thank you both for sharing your experiences. so glad you are on the road to recovery. I hope your story will help other people, I am going to print a copy and pass it around to all my family and friends.

Thanks for sharing,

Yvonne
 

ChrystalPaths

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Wow...I am speechless except to say "Bless your hearts and thank you" from the bottom of mine and many others I'm sure. Your stories may well have saved another.
 

Maxi'sMinis

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It is so easy to brush off those kind of aches and pains. People that work hard like horse owners don't pay a lot of mind to their pains cause its kinda routine. I was just thinking about this the other day when I was having some electrical kinda shooting pains in my shoulder. I am so glad you got yourself taken care of and all will be OK. Also thankful that you have posted your experience here. I won't put off going to the doctor. Gona get checked out this week. Thank you so much. And God bless and prayers for full recoverys for both you good people.
 

CyndiM

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Thank you for reminding us how easy it is to explain away the very things we should use as warning signals.

I am so happy to know that both you Kathi and Fairtailglen's husband are on the mend.
 

MelissaAH

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Wow. I am speechless. Your experience is truly an eye opener. I am so happy that you are here to tell the tale and will be here to tell many more tales but not like this. Life changes are hard but when you go thru what you did, it has to give you incentive, it doesn't for everyone. Glad you're here!
 

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