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Sheryl Michalenko’s Story

Congenital Heart Disease Survivor, Age 53, Cedar Creek, TX

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Sheryl's Story

I was diagnosed with heart disease at the age of 50, I am sure I had it for many years before the doctors finally diagnosed me. It all started years ago with vertigo, I started having terrible vertigo so I went to the doctor several times complaining about dizziness, lightheadedness and not being able to think—as in can’t work or function. My doctor sent me for several tests: ENT, MRI, CATS, Neuro, all the work come back normal: normal BP and EKG. I would get sent home and told to rest it must be stress. This went on for 5 years, then one day when I went back to the doctor with my vertigo I asked to be referred to a heart doctor, they could not understand why I would want to go to a heart specialist. ” I would like to be checked for heart disease as it runs in my family my father had heart disease at the age of 50.” I went and they found within 5 minutes of my visit that my BP in my left arm was so faint they could hardly hear it. Results I have 95% blockage in my left arm, I was lying on an operating table 1 week later to place a stent.

Now let’s fast forward to exactly 2 years later, I have 75% blockage in my heart and needed a double bypass. Once again doctors did not detect this, I was not feeling well for several months, fatigue, dizziness and again I took myself to the emergency room one morning with tightness in my chest “no pain”. Nurses and doctors were confused as why I was there. I asked them to please call my heart doctor and I asked for him to do an angiogram to determine what was happening to me.  He did so and that is when he found the blockage, once again lying on an operating table this time to do the bypass!

I quickly learned that it is true that women’s symptoms are nothing like men’s, as mine were nothing like my dad’s. I thought I was just tired working too much, too much stress. If I would not have taken myself to the emergency room I would have eventually had a stroke or a heart attack. So we must all pay close attention to our bodies and insist that our doctors pay attention to our symptoms.

I am now 8 months post-surgery; it has been a tough road and still is.  I am making life changes, I hired a trainer and I am starting to work out every day. I am trying to change my work life style as I have too much on-the- job- stress.  My life has become more important to me than before!  I am doing for me now instead of for others, I want to live as long as I can I want to be healthy.

My new mission is life is to make women aware of the dangers of heart disease how quickly it can become serious and how quite the killer is.

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Sheryl is interested in giving and receiving support from other women with heart disease. Contact her if you'd like to give and receive support.

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