You know blogging is a big part of your life when you are lying in the back of an ambulance with chest pains thinking “Oh man, I’m going to miss the blog party.”
Don’t get me wrong, this was not my primary concern, but the Ultimate Blog Party did cross my mind, quickly followed with the thought, “You’re thinking of blogging at a time like this?!”
Well, I am now home from the hospital and have much to share with you. Read and learn, then go join the blog party for lots of fun and prizes!
Women and Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. American women are 4 to 6 times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. It is also a leading cause of disability.
Each year the age for heart disease gets younger, therefore women of all ages should be concerned about heart disease. You need to be aware, even if you are in your 20s or 30s, and more so if you are older.
Full-quiver moms need to be especially aware because we usually have children in our late 30s and 40s and need to be healthy to care for them.
Heart Attack Warning Symptoms
Not all heart attacks begin with sudden, crushing pain, as shown on TV or in the movies. Many heart attacks start slowly as mild pain or discomfort. The discomfort can be mild or severe, and it may come and go.
Most heart attacks involve a feeling like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Pain may radiate to other areas of the upper body including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, light-headedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
Please Learn From My Mistakes
In July I had open-heart surgery at age 51. They put two bypass graphs in my heart. You can read about it here.
In the fall I began feeling some of the symptoms I felt before the surgery. I assumed it was stress due to our move from VA to TN and some family issues, or anemia or pre-menopause symptoms. I did not think it was my heart again.
Lesson #1: Don’t assume your insurance coverage is nationwide. Check your insurance coverage before moving out of state.
For months we have been caught up in an insurance red tape nightmare trying to switch coverage from VA to TN.
I had a few “walking in the flesh” moments dealing with our insurance company. Imagine telling your insurance company you are having chest pains and the response is “I’m sorry, you are not covered in the state of TN.” Our move caused us a three-month delay in critical treatment.
Emergency Room Merry-Go-Round
Lesson #2: A normal EKG does not mean you have a clean bill of health!. Tests show a 6% death result in patients with normal EKGs.
Having chest pains after heart surgery is like being nine months pregnant with false labor pains–very, very frustrating and embarrassing.
I went to the ER twice in the last 6 months for chest pains only to be sent home because the EKG results were normal.
More Warning Signs
Lesson #3: Fatigue can be a revealing symptom, more significant than any medical test.
In November, I began feeling significant fatigue which grew steadily worse. I attributed the fatigue to anemia (I had 3 transfusions in July which had worn off) or menopause symptoms. I was wrong.
My symptoms included: shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations and an occasional tight feeling in my back that radiated to my chest. A few nights I had really bad jaw pain that I assumed was a toothache. Even though my teeth didn’t hurt, the pain mimicked an abscessed tooth.
My fatigue got so bad that I began making all my meals in a crock-pot. I had to make dinner in the morning because I was too tired to do anything in the afternoon.
Those who read my blog may have noticed me blogging more in recent months–only because it was easier to write from bed than get up and do anything else.
By last Wednesday evening I was too tired to get out of bed to go to church. I knew something was very wrong.
Recent Tests and Hospitalization
Lesson #4: Always pray over doctors and medical procedures. Acknowledge God in all your ways and He will direct your paths.
I learned last year that your choice in doctors can be a matter of life and death. I prayed for a wise and listening doctor while awaiting insurance coverage. God answered these prayers.
Last Monday was my first TN cardiologist appointment. He scheduled several tests. Thursday I had a nuclear stress test and echo cardiogram.
During the nuclear stress test I began having palpitations (throwing PVCs) after the tests. I experienced significant pain in my upper back throughout the evening. My husband and I discussed going to the hospital. I cried over the frustration. We decided to wait it out–because we had not learned Lessons 2 and 3 above!
In the morning the pain worsened and I became nauseous. Hubby had gone to work. I drove myself to the hospital with my children–a dangerous decision that could have been disastrous.
Cardiac Catheterization and Stents
The ER doctor felt I needed a cardiac catheterization and sent me by ambulance to the Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. I was apprehensive as my cardiac cath in July resulted in open-heart surgery.
The cardiac cath procedure involves an incision into the upper thigh to run a camera and injection of dye into the vessels of the heart to see how the blood flows and to determine if there are any blockages.
Patients remain awake during the procedure. They give you some kind of concoction so you don’t feel pain which makes you very groggy.
The procedure quickly revealed one of the two grafts I received in July had collapsed. My left main artery was still significantly blocked and the reason for my symptoms.
During the procedure the surgeon told me about the collapsed vein. I felt vindicated! I was elated because something was found wrong that could be easily fixed. Since one of the graphs was functioning they were able to place two stents in the left main artery (instead of another bypass) to increase the flow.
A Rude Awakening
I mentioned to the surgeon I almost didn’t come to the hospital. The surgeon’s assistant walked around the surgeon to the head of the table, leaned into my face and emphatically said,“Do you understand this is your left main artery? If you didn’t come in you would be dead within the week.” It was as if he knocked the groggy medicine right out of me. I was immediately sober.
(A blocked left main artery is dangerous because it feeds other arteries).
Night and Day Difference
Praise God, I feel energy I have not felt in months! I am elated!! I’ve been home for one day and feel 100 % better. Last time I felt this well I had to undergo open-heart surgery and months of recovery. This time it only took a few hours.
Last night I caught up all my laundry and today I am holding myself back from spring cleaning ( I’m suppose to take it easy for a few weeks.)
I believe an object lesson on blood flow and the flow of God’s Spirit is in order. I’ll be posting it soon.
Please Continue to Pray
Right before I left the hospital, the EKG noted continued bigeminy (more PVCs) so the doctor increased the blood pressure medication prescription. I was reluctant to take any blood pressure medication because I have low blood pressure and have never been on this type medication.
I am not happy about being on all these strong heart medications with possible serious side effects. I will continue to research alternative medications. I’d appreciate your prayers for wisdom.
Biblical Diet Book
Heart disease begins in childhood–from what we eat. I’ve been working on a book on the biblical diet — a unit study with Hope Eagan, author of Holy Cow: Does God Care What We Eat? I believe the things I’m learning may be helpful to the new book (not due for many months).
Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words of encouragement. Thank you, Kathleen, for keeping everyone posted.
Thank you, God, for your beautiful mercy and grace.
We planned on taking photos of our children, horses, and dogs in party hats for the Blog Party but instead you got my heart story.