Debi Stanton’s Story

Atrial Fibrillation Survivor, Age 57, Saint Petersburg, FL

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Debi's Story

Hi, I actually want to tell you three abbreviated stories (albeit word count is 411): one happened about 8 years ago, one happened about 4 years ago, one happened yesterday.

Started a new job with a promotion; after about 2 weeks I landed in the hospital for what the doctors and I thought was a heart problem. After a week on the cardiac wing I was moved to the neurological wing. After a week and several tests (Carotid Ultrasound,CT Angiography, blood, …) it was determined I had experienced a TIA and tachycardia. Saw a neurologist several times, had a Magnetic Resonance Angiography (tech said I had a 60% occlusion but doctor never said a %age). The last time I saw neurologist she wrote a referral for a psychiatrist and a prescription for the types of evaluations she wanted for me. I asked her why she said because when a part of the brain dies people often become depressed (thought brain didn’t die in a TIA?). I was adamant that I was not depressed but she insisted, so I went. With no more than a few simple diagnostic instruments and virtually no discussion my psychiatrist prescribed Lamictal, decided I am ADHD (I am) and prescribed Adderall!

Four years later, I’m at home with family, it’s about 9:30 pm, my husband and I are having cocktails when I experience identical symptoms. I go to a different hospital’s ER and because I had consumed alcohol the attending resident physician decided I was drunk (I had two high-balls!) due to my slurred speech, disorientation, and weakness. Would not listen to my husband who tried to explain that this happened before and what was going on, then sent us home. I felt so humiliated! Saw my adult daughter next day; she asked me why I was dragging my left leg…. I recovered but have noticed cognitive differences ever since.

During the years in-between I have had similar incidents. Once taken in an ambulance to the hospital I was at initially; doctor said it was simple arrhythmia—rest a day or two and I’d be fine. I felt so foolish again.

Could not sleep night before last, hot, TERRIBLE headache that lasted for at least 4 hours; all day I felt weak and sort of hallow. Don’t want to be humiliated again.

Research says time is of the essence—but if I cannot get a doctor to believe me when I report symptoms and history what should I do?


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Debi 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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