I was a healthy, happy 28-year old woman. I had a great career, great friends – life was good.
In October 2009, I got sick. I thought I had bronchitis. I took an antibiotic and felt better for a couple of days. Then I started feeling really bad, with symptoms that were unfamiliar to me. My upper abdomen was swollen. I was unable to eat or drink anything, which made me very weak and tired. I was short of breath, especially when lying flat. Something was terribly wrong. I was misdiagnosed twice with indigestion and sent home, once from an urgent care facility and once from the ER.
My mom convinced me to go back to the ER the next day, where the doctors determined there was something terribly wrong, but they didn’t know what. Thank God, they admitted me for overnight observation. In the wee hours of the morning, I crashed. Acute heart failure had caused liver, kidney and bone marrow failure. If I hadn’t been at the hospital, I wouldn’t be here to tell about it.
I stayed in the hospital for four weeks, during which time my kidneys, liver and bone marrow recovered. My heart was more stubborn. I was discharged in November with 24/7 IV meds and was listed for a heart transplant. On July 21, 2010, I got the life-changing call that a heart was available for me. That evening, I received the greatest gift – a healthy new heart. A future.
The most important lessons for me? 1. Know the symptoms of heart disease. 2. Heart disease can happen to anyone. 3. Advocate for yourself – if you feel something is wrong, it probably is.
I am now living a healthier life – I eat better, I exercise regularly and I cherish every day.