I posted the first part of my heart story on the Heart Healthy Living FaceBook page I am an admin on but it seems I didn’t publish it in here on WordPress or I just can’t find it. I was looking because I just wrote an update and wanted to reference the first part of the story. So, since I can’t find it in here I am copying what I posted in the FaceBook site and pasting it on here and then at the bottom I will post my update. It’s just as well it’s all together this way anyway, I guess. The FaceBook page I am referring to can be found at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.491060257604844.113729.179846325392907&type=3. Please feel free to check out the Heart Healthy Living FB page and Like and tell us your own heart story. If I have your permission I will even feature you in an album.
Here’s the first part of my heart story that I wrote over a year ago.
When I was nineteen and working as a pool attendant at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego California, I had the first odd heart beat moment that I can recall. It’s hard to say if my heart was racing or not, it just felt like it was pushing very hard and beating right out of my chest. It affected the way my throat felt and I felt something close to the feeling you get before passing out in your head. Like your eye sight is messed up. I made my way to my boss, Gary Phillips, who sat me down, prayed for me and did his best to help me become very calm. After a short while it went away. That same heart situation continued to happen to me randomly but not frequently for the next 21 years. I believe it would happen for periods of five to fifteen minutes. I was the healthy hardy kid in my family so I was trained not to go to the doctors unless I was pretty much dead.
I had actually indeed been dead once and thankfully the paramedics insisted I go the hospital. You see, I had drowned and died. I was black and blue when my body was found belly up head back in the water floating in what was now an empty pool but had been very full. Of course there was no life guard on duty. I was a really good kid and would never do something like that. But yet, there I was. I really was a good kid…honestly! Lol The deal was I wanted to do what my sister and my mom would do and grab my moms feet as she turned underwater in her laps and swim with her while holding her feet. It seemed perfectly reasonable… to a four year old. My mom had told me to stay on the stairs but it would have been ok to have grabbed her feet cause then she would know exactly where I was and actually have me. The problem was that I missed. It was 1974, CPR was still something people generally didn’t know and that day at our friends trailer park pool was no exception, no one knew CPR. It was also still in style to make a human crowed circle around a triadic event so I had my circle of lookie-lous. A man tried to help my mom but they were both unsuccessful. The paramedics had been called but the trucks were stuck in the Orange county traffic. After every one gave up and the lookie-lous drifted away and the man helping my mom couldn’t do any more, my mom sat back on her knees. She said she looked up at the clouds and told Jesus that she knew I would be happier with him but that my dad had just come back home, (they had been separated for 2 ½ year) and that he needed me. I then began breathing. Most of this story is from how I heard it from my mom. My sisters side, (she’s three years older than me) was from a hysterically screaming hauled off to the side by a friends view point. I do have some memories that are my own of this event. I remember drowning and I remember a white light in darkness that got bigger and suddenly I was awake. I also remember how disappointed I was that I couldn’t stand on the record player and spin around in the play room like Curious George did at the hospital. Talking about the hospital this is the part where the paramedics insist I go to the hospital. My mom wanted to take me home now that I was ok. But they insisted I go with them first. The doctor wanted me to stay the night. Later my folks discovered that there had been three similar cases like mine that year and the kids had died of shock in the night. Somewhere along the line my parents also discovered that kids who have no vital signs for a period of time suffer loss of oxygen to the brain and become mentally handicap or “slow”. That knowledge would often play with me and not in a nice way. Some times I was treated like I was “slow” and when your treated a certain way it can be difficult not to follow suit. Though I was aggravated with myself and wondered sometimes, I couldn’t succumb to that. Later I was told by family members that my folks would talk about how I was likely “slow” to them and others right in front of me. I don’t recall hearing it but it’s very possible. They also said my folks would alert the schools to my possible condition when enrolling me. I remember my mom telling my drowning story to the office staff but I thought it was told as a testimony. Years later she told me how the teachers liked me but didn’t have time to spend with me so they basically let me get behind. Thankfully, I was able to catch up. That’s a different story for another time. Had something to do with home-school and confidence. I’m telling my drowning story because I believe it may likely be the cause of my heart problem. I was never tested that I know of for anything, even brain damage, after my drowning. Though I do not appear to have brain damage I would love to have my brain looked at cause I’m plum curious and I can deal with what ever they may find. Of course nothing else was checked either, like my heart. I have come to this possible conclusion by researching things on the internet.
I was 40 when it all went down…in a bad way. Over the previous two years I had surprisingly become Mrs. Hawaii Int. 2008, gone through divorce, raising my four little ones on my own, got out of a what I consider a cult that I was in for 18 years, learned that two of my kids were in the Autism spectrum and then there were the moves and the folks who take advantage of people when they are down and so forth and so on. A bright spot in the mist of this was meeting and become family with Sabrina and Shirley and the boys. They helped me out of some tough situations.
I was living in Springfield, MO and decided to go to school. I took several classes and was mostly enjoying myself. I didn’t actually care for the math class and I was ticked that I had to memorize the syllabus for the computer class but I was dealing. It started just before the computer class. The heart gushing feeling thing. I breathed easy and tried to pay attention in class as best I could. I figured it would go away soon. I slowly left class when it was over and began walking to Math. It got worse to the point I had to walk very slowly. I decided I was stressing myself out and I would bite the pride bullet and drop out of math. So I went upstairs to the councilors office, waited, then met the councilor and dropped the class. My heart was still pushing out of my chest. I walked slowly to the elevator, got inside and pushed the button for one floor down. It was the longest one floor down ride ever. Not in reality but I suddenly felt horrible pain all over my body. I got out and walked to the office. Walking seemed to make the massive pain go away. I asked for a nurse but there was none on staff. I took a few moments debating wither I should drive home or not but then decided to go the safe way and call Sabrina to come pick me up. She did and took me home where I tried to relax. She also got the kids from school.
Six plus hours has passed and my heart was still upset. At one point I got up to use the restroom and when I came returned to my room and laid back down the massive mid chest pain hit me hard. I could hardly breath let alone see. I did have pain in my left arm but that shoulder had been injured previously so I was used to having pain in it. I sat back up hoping the terrible pain would go away but it didn’t. I called Sabrina and told her I needed to go to the ER. Now I have this thing my body likes to do where when I get to a doctors office or hospital, no matter how awful I feel, I feel fine when I get there. Sure enough when we pulled up to the ER doors my heart felt just fine right at that very second. But after 7 hours of torture I decided it was best to go on in. They took some blood and did an EKG. Of course the EKG came back “fine” but the blood didn’t. The ER doctor said they found the chemical levels in my blood that indicated I had had a heart attack. I just didn’t expect to hear that. I texted my mom about it and she texted something back about how she hoped I’d take this as a sign to repent and so on. I let her know her timing was inappropriate so she texted some thing more appropriate back.
I was given an angiogram. Gosh that was painful. I ended up passing out from the meds they gave me but not until I felt the pain of the large needle going in my groin area artery first. And then the dissolving cement stuff they put in it as a “band-aid” hurts for weeks. Thankfully, the angiogram came out clear and I had no blockage.
So the question remained, what did happen? By the way, the ER doctor didn’t write heart attack on my papers and I learned fast that if I say the ‘HA’ word the doctors have a strong angry reaction. Before I have anytime to explain I’ve had them jump down my throat. As usual it’s because I am a woman and I am not “old enough” to have a “you know what”. Which is one of the big reasons why woman’s heart health is such an important issue. Until the doctors stop hastily assuming that woman under a certain age can not have a heart attack we have to educate ourselves and insist on being cared for properly. For now I pretty much explain to the doctors that my heart had a restart cause that seems to have been the end result and I don’t have the stress of having to put up with their “you just said heart attack” hissy fit.
The heart specialist found that my lower heart beats were off and scheduled me for an ablation. Even though it was more lengthy and tedious the needles in the arteries in the groin area on the legs wasn’t nearly as painful as the angiograms. The heart attack simulations weren’t pleasant but thankfully one of the attendants let me know I could bring my MP3 player in with me so the music helped distract me as well as help the time pass. The doctor burned 13 spots on my heart. Later in the one and only check up I had another EKG which still showed I still had arrhythmia. The doctor told me I was fine and sent me on my merry way. I’m guessing since I didn’t have insurance I wasn’t a big concern.
I haven’t had an incident since then but I am so much more aware of my heart. It’s like when you have a baby and then you start realizing you’re now aware and can feel parts of the inside of your body that you just weren’t aware of before. A while ago I also stated noticing when I try to take my pulse, which isn’t easy, I can’t feel the fourth beat. I’ve been to see doctors and have had nurses take my pulse, cause they do that, but no one has ever said anything about it. I have noticed though that the nurses often press their thumbs against the other side of my wrists when taking my pules so I have assume that what ever beat they got and wrote in my records was probably actually theirs. I was trained to be a CNA when I was 15 and I have never forgotten that there is a strong pulse in ones own thumb.
A few months ago I met up with my local doctor since I just moved and wanted to get established. I figured they wouldn’t mind keeping tabs on my health and heart since Wisconsin feels I am eligible for their insurance. I didn’t mention the heart beat miss to the doctor but she found it, it wasn’t my imagination after all. She did an EKG and found the discrepancy then had me hooked up to a heart monitor for 48 hours to record things. Though I haven’t had an incident I do feel pressure off and on and when I do I seriously relax myself. I’m still waiting to hear how the 48 hour thing went. I have found that my heart seems to catch the fourth beat when I am exercising, cardio style, regularly. I do indeed exercise as regularly as I can which is about three or four days a week. Holidays usually put a wrench in the whole thing. Other than holidays it seems I get a more regular heart beat a few days a week anyway. Maybe!
My heart update written March 22, 2014.
I saw a flyer for a seminar about a procedure that cures A-Fib (Total Thoracoscopic Maz/Mini-Maze) being presented by ASPIRUS’ so I decided to check it out. The speaker was a Wausau ASPIRUS doctor named John Johnkoski . It was held in a Stevens Point hotel conference room, the kind that are chopped in half by a moving wall. Most the folks attending were much older then me or they just looked very unhealthy. There were a lot of questions afterward about the medications they were on for their heart that I’d never heard of. As a matter of fact the doctors I had seen never even brought up taking aspirin to me. It’s likely due to a mix of me being considered “too young” and at one time I didn’t have insurance.
I signed up for a consult. I was tired of not having much energy and thought maybe it was because of my A-Fib. I had even quit going to roller derby practice cause I just couldn’t get the energy and stamina up. It was worth seeing if the procedure could help me and no one has ever died from it so that was encouraging. I did the consult with Dr. Johnkoski, and he had a heart monitor ordered for me. It came in the mail with instructions. I have worn one before but this time instead of three days it was more like a month and a half. I finally had to cry uncle about the sticky patches cause I am allergic to them and was getting really bad square shaped rashes. I was sent the hypoallergenic ones but they wouldn’t stay on me for very long.
About half way through the time I had to wear it, or maybe a little more then half, I felt very odd. I’d felt that way before and when I took my pules during those odd feeling times my heart beats felt normal instead of their normal skipping a beat every three or four beats feeling. I took my pulse a few times and sure enough everything seemed normal, well, for me that would be abnormal. I didn’t feel I was in any danger and thought maybe I felt odd because when my heart beats the way it should I’m not use to it and it feels odd to me. After a few days I didn’t feel odd any more but my pulse remained a steady normal beat. This continued till my next check up regarding the heart procedure and monitor findings.
Sure enough, I did not qualify for the procedure. Dr. Johnkoski informed me that I did not have A-Fib but something else that I can not recall the name of at this time. When I asked him what it was he said it was basically what they call patients who have something they don’t know what to call it.
I wasn’t concerned with the bill cause when I had talked about doing a consult they said it was free and they also let me know they would work with my insurance if I qualified. They never mentioned that I would have to pay for the heart monitor time. Thankfully I was able to take care of it with payments for the next several months.
It’s been seven or so month since then and my pules remains normal. Even my regular doctor was surprised when I went in for a check up. Sometimes I really feel like I have some commission to experience life in various ways and that was just one of them. There’s so many odd things I have been through that I didn’t seek out. I still remain watchful over myself just encase anything decided to come back.
I am very happy to have my heart back to normal. About my energy level, Yes! I do have more energy and stamina since my heart beat has returned to normal. I was right about that!