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Karla Bryant’s Story

Age 47, Aurora, CO

Provides support

Karla's Story

I hadn’t planned to share my story but I realized God has kept me alive for a reason. I believe my story is that reason. I pray that what I have gone through helps someone, convinces someone to get checked or something. It has been a rough time but I’m healthy and ready to continue living and help people any way I can to live with this disease.
WHEN ALL OF THIS BEGAN, SOME 13 YEARS AGO, NO ONE COULD HAVE TOLD ME THAT I WOULD GET TO A POINT WHERE I WOULD BE WILLING TO TALK ABOUT THE ILLNESS; NOT ONLY WILLING TO TALK, BUT ANXIOUSLY WANTING TO TALK ABOUT IT. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS, FACTS, MYTHS, ETC ABOUT HEART DISEASE THAT I THOUGHT AT THE BEGINNING, THAT I BELIEVED AT THE BEGINNING, THAT I NO LONGER THINK/BELIEVE.
IN THE BEGINNING, I TRULY DIDN’T KNOW IF I WANTED TO ‘BE THE ONE THAT LIVED WITH HEART DISEASE’. I USED TO TAKE MEDICATIONS 4 TIMES A DAY, BETWEEN 8 12 PILLS AT EACH DOSING. I HAD GOTTEN TO A POINT WHEN I JUST DIDN’T WANT TO TAKE ANOTHER PILL; I GOT TO A POINT WHERE I WAS JUST TIRED. I FELT LIKE EVEN THOUGH I WAS DOING EVERYTHING ‘RIGHT’, THAT NOTHING WAS HELPING; THAT I WASN’T GETTING ANY BETTER. SO, I WAS GIVING UP, IN A WAY I GUESS I WAS KIND OF FEELING SORRY FOR MYSELF. I HATED FEELING LIMITED WHEN I WANTED TO DO THINGS, WANTED TO EAT OR DRINK CERTAIN THINGS. I WAS EVEN UPSET THAT I HAD TO STOP SMOKING; NOW THAT WAS FUNNY, EVEN TO ME SIMPLY BECAUSE BEFORE ALL OF THIS, I HAD BEEN TRYING TO QUIT. I WAS ONE OF THOSE SMOKERS THAT COULDN’T STAND THE SMELL OF SMOKE OR CIGARETTES, I DIDN’T WANT THE SMELL ANY WHERE NEAR ME. ISN’T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD? I’VE ALWAYS BEEN VERY OPINIONATED OUTSPOKEN ON THE SUBJECT OF SMOKING SMOKERS BUT I WILL DELVE DEEPER INTO THAT LATER. ALL OF THIS BEGAN MARCH 1, 1998hellip;.IT IS AMAZING HOW MYOCARDIAL INFARCTIONS (MI’S OR HEART ATTACKS) MIMIC OTHER THINGS, HEART BURN OR INDIGESTION, BACK, JAW AND/OR ARM PAIN. OF THE 4 MI’S I HAD, I ONLY RECOGNIZED ONE FOR WHAT IT WAS.
ON MARCH 1st. ’98, I WAS SITTING, MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS AND I GOT THIS WEIRD PAIN AND TINGLING IN MY LEFT ARM AND FINGERS. I DIDN’T GET ALARMED OR AFRAID BUT I WAS A BIT CONCERNED AND QUITE CURIOUS AS TO WHAT IT COULD BE AND WHY IT WAS HAPPENING. BUT I DIDN’T GIVE IT TOO MUCH THOUGHT AS I WENT ABOUT MY DAY. LATER THAT EVENING THOUGH, I FINALLY SAT DOWN AND STARTED TO RELAX AND NOTICED IT WAS STILL THERE, NOT VERY INTENSE, BUT THERE JUST ENOUGH TO BE NOTICED AND ANNOYING. I NEVER BELIEVE THAT ANYTHING SHORT OF PASSING OUT, WARRANTS SPENDING MONEY FOR AN AMBULANCE RIDE AND EMERGENCY ROOM VISIT, SO I WAS CALLING TO SEE IF THE AFTER HOURS CLINIC WOULD SEE ME AND HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST ME. I FOUND OUT THAT EVENING THOUGH, THAT AS SOON AS YOU SAY CERTAIN SYMPTOMS TO A PERSON IN THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSION RED FLAGS GO UP AND THEY SHIFT INTO TRAUMA MODE. I KNOW THIS NOW; UNFORTUNATELY I DIDN’T KNOW IT THEN BECAUSE HAD I KNOWN, I WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE CAREFUL WHEN CHOOSING MY WORDS. DID YOU KNOW THAT TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, “PRESSURE IN THE CHEST” IS WORSE THAN “PAIN IN THE CHEST”? YEAH, I DIDN’T THEN, BUT I DO NOW. SO, LONG STORY SHORT, THAT WAS MY FIRST INKLING THAT SOMETHING WASN’T RIGHT. I LEFT THAT HOSPITAL 3 DAYS LATER WITH A STENT IN MY CHEST AND A BAG FULL OF MEDICATIONS/ NOTE TO MENTION, I WAS LOOKING AT THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY, UNFORTUNATELY, I WASN’T QUITE SCARED YET, NOT SCARED ENOUGH TO CHANGE ANYTHING IN MY LIFE, SIMPLY BECAUSE, TRUTH BE TOLD I ENJOYED MY LIFE(HAVE I MENTIONED THAT NOT ONLY WAS I KINDA STUPID BACK THEN, I WAS ALSO STUBBORN TO THE CORE?!).
ON APRIL 11, 2005, ONE OF MY UNCLES CALLED ME TO LET ME KNOW HE WAS IN THE HOSPITAL IN TULSA, OK WAITING TO HAVE A QUADRUPLE BYPASS. I IMMEDIATELY BEGAN TO WORRY (KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER; YOU CAN’T BE A NATURAL BORN WORRIER IF YOU HAVE A SERIOUS HEART CONDITION!). FROM 4/11 THRU 4/13, I FELT A TIGHTNESS IN MY CHEST, LIKE SOMEONE WAS SQUEEZING MY HEART. I SPOKE TO MY PARENTS 4/12 AND TOLD THEM WHAT WAS GOING ON BUT ASSURED THEM THAT IT WAS JUST FROM WORRYING ABOUT MY UNCLE, I PROMISED I WOULD MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO BE CHECKED THOUGH. I HUNG THE PHONE UP AND CALLED MY PCP’S OFFICE, MADE AN APPOINTMENT FOR THE FOLLOWING DAY AND WENT ON ABOUT MY DAY. 4/13/2005 WAS A WEDNESDAY, AND IF I LIVE TO BE 100, I WILL NEVER FORGET A SINGLE DETAIL ABOUT THAT MORNING. MY BOYFRIEND AT THE TIME FINALLY HAD A DAY OFF AND WE WANTED TO SPEND THE DAY TOGETHER SO HE WENT TO THE APPOINTMENT WITH ME. I WAS IN THE BEST MOOD! MY PCP CAME IN AND ASKED WHAT WAS GOING ON AND AFTER EXPLAINING WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH MY UNCLE, TOLD HIM OF THE ‘PRESSURE’ I WAS FEELING IN MY CHEST(NOT PAIN DR, PRESSURE). HE SMILED AT ME AND VERY CALMLY ASKED ME IF HE COULD ASK ME A QUESTION; I WAS STILL IN MY USUAL CHIPPER MOOD AND SAID ‘SURE’, WITH A HUGE GRIN ON MY FACE. HE LOOKED AT ME AND ASKED, “WHY DID YOU COME HERE AND NOT THE EMERGENCY ROOM?” I GIGGLED AND SAID ‘BECAUSE I DON’T THINK I NEED TO BE IN THE ER.’ NOT REALLY BEING A SMART ALECK BUT THE SARCASM WAS DEFINITELY THERE, I’M THINKING THE APPOINTMENT WAS TAKING TOO LONG AND I WAS READY TO LEAVEhellip;HE EXCUSED HIMSELF AND LEFT THE ROOM, RETURNING AFTER ABOUT 5 MINUTES (I WAS REALLY ANNOYED THEN!). HE SAID, “I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW I’VE PLACED A CALL IN FOR AN AMBULANCE, I NEED YOU TO BE IN THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW.” ‘EXCUSE ME?!’ YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! FOR THE FIRST TIME, I FINALLY FELT FEAR AND I FELT THE TEARS AT THE BACK OF MY EYES. I TRIED TO PLAY ‘LET’S MAKE A DEAL’, CAUSE I REALLY DIDN’T WANT TO CHANGE MY PLANS, ‘MY BOYFRIEND IS RIGHT DOWNSTAIRS, HE’LL TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL.’ NOPE, WASN’T HAPPENING. OK, YES, I ADMIT I GOT REALLY SCARED; CERTAIN THINGS ARE JUST DESIGNED TO SCARE THE DEVIL OUT OF YOU, THAT WAS ONE OF THEM. SO, OFF TO THE HOSPITAL I GO, BOYFRIEND IS FOLLOWING THE AMBULANCE (LOL). SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO TOUCH A NEEDLE! TO THIS DAY, 6 YEARS LATER, I HAVE A SCAR ON MY THUMB FROM WHERE THIS MISFIT TRIED TO START AN I.V.; YEAH RIGHT, NOT THERE DOOFUS! ON 4/15, AFTER ALMOST 2 DAYS IN THE HOSPITAL, THEY DID AN ANGIOPLASTY/ANGIOGRAM, WHICH LEFT ME WITH 4 MORE STENTS IN MY CHEST. I WAS ABLE TO GO HOME THE FOLLOWING DAY, NEEDLESS TO SAY, I CHANGED DOCTORS AFTER THAT. I DIDN’T TURN INTO A FAN OF HIS UNTIL THE FOLLOW UP VISIT WITH THE CARDIOLOGIST, AND HE INFORMED ME THAT THIS MAN HAD SAVED MY SILLY LITTLE LIFEhellip;.OOPS! ONCE AGAIN, STUCK MY FOOT KNEE DEEP IN IT. LOL
ON 10/13/2010, EXACTLY ONE MONTH TO THE DAY OF MY ADOPTED SON’S MURDER, I HAD MY MOST RECENT, MOST SERIOUS HEART ATTACK. MY FRIENDS AND I WERE HAVING A GET TOGETHER THAT EVENING, THEY WERE CONCERNED BECAUSE I STILL HADN’T CRIED SO THEY WERE HANGING AROUND. I WAS TALKING TO A FRIEND ON THE PHONE AND WAS MIXING AN OLD SCHOOL HEARTBURN REMEDY (BAKING SODA WATER); I FIGURED SINCE IT WORKED THE LAST 7 DAYS, SURELY IN MINUTES I WOULD FEEL BETTER. I TOOK IT AND WAITED ABOUT 10 MINUTES AND IT DIDN’T HELP, SO I DECIDED I JUST HADN’T TAKEN ENOUGH AND TOOK MORE. I GOT OFF THE PHONE AND LAID DOWN ON MY LIVING ROOM FLOOR, CLUTCHING MY CHEST WITH MY FIST(I WAS LEFT WITH A FIST SIZED BRUISE FROM THAT!) I CALLED MY FATHER AND TOLD HIM HOW I HAD BEEN FEELING AND HOW I WAS FEELING AT THAT MOMENT AND HE SUGGESTED I GO TO THE ER. I ALMOST TOLD HIM I DIDN’T WANT TO GO BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT THE ER BILL BUT I BIT MY TONGUE AND WENT. IMMEDIATELY UPON ARRIVING AT AURORA SOUTH, I WAS HOOKED TO AN EKG AND AN IV, WHILE MY 2 lsquo;FRIENDS’ STOOD ACROSS FROM ME LOOKING TERRIFIED. FOUND OUT THAT FRIENDS HEART ATTACKS DON’T MIX, BUT THAT’S ANOTHER STORY. THE DOCTOR CAME IN AFTER READING MY EKG AND SEEING THE RESULTS OF MY BLOOD WORK AND INFORMED MY lsquo;FRIENDS’ THAT I WAS HAVING A HEART ATTACK, HEARD ONE OF THEM SAY, ldquo;NOW?!rdquo; (LOL) AND THE DOCTOR SAID, ldquo;RIGHT NOW!!rdquo; THINGS MOVED PRETTY QUICKLY AFTER THOSE WORDS WERE UTTERED. IT WAS 8:15pm. BY 9pm I HAD 4 MORE STENTS (LUCKILY, WHEN THEY PLACE STENTS, YOU’RE AWARE OF EVERYTHING. AFTER THE FIRST 2, THEY THOUGHT THEY HAD FINISHED AND I STARTED CRYING, TELLING THE DOCTOR TO KEEP LOOKING BECAUSE THE PAIN WAS STILL THERE AND I DIDN’T THINK HE WAS DONE. HE SAID THE PAIN WAS JUST THE TRAUMA FROM WHAT HE HAD JUST DONE, I SAID NO, IT WASN’T, PLEASE KEEP LOOKING. THANK GOD HE LISTENED, HE CHECKED MORE AND FOUND 2 MORE BLOCKAGES, 99% 100% THAT HE; FIXED’.)AND PEOPLE WERE TALKING ABOUT ME LIKE I WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THERE. I HAVE HEARD STORIES ABOUT WHITE LIGHTS AND LIFE FLASHING IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES, NONE OF THAT HAPPENED. ALL I COULD REMEMBER WAS ASKING MYSELF, lsquo;WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME I HUGGED MY MOM DAD TOLD THEM I LOVED THEM??’ I THINK THIS TIME HAS BEEN THE SLOWEST RECOVERY, BECAUSE I FINALLY LISTENED. THIS MAN, MY CARDIOLOGIST, LOOKED AT ME ONE WEEK AFTER THE MI, SHOOK HIS HEAD AND SAID, ldquo;Do you realize you died?!rdquo; I WAS THINKING TO MYSELF, lsquo;IM NOT KEEPING THIS A SECRET ANYMORE, IF GOD PULLS ME THROUGH, I WILL TALK ABOUT THIS DISEASE EVERY CHANCE I GET UNTIL EVERY WOMAN IN THE WORLD IS AWARE!!!’
SO, AFTER A LONG, HARD RECOVERY, HERE I AM. I’VE LOST WEIGHT, I CHANGED MY EATING HABITS, STOPPED DRINKING SMOKING AND I EXERCISE. AFTER GOING THROUGH THIS 3 OTHER TIMES AND NOT MAKING ANY CHANGES, PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT WAS DIFFERENT THIS TIME, IF IT WAS BECAUSE THEY SAY I DIEDhellip;THE ANSWER IS NO. THAT NIGHT I SAW SOMETHING THAT I CAN ONLY PRAY I NEVER HAVE TO SEE AGAIN: FEAR ON MY PARENTS FACES. THAT BY ITSELF SHOWED ME THAT THIS THING IS MORE SERIOUS THAN I WAS TELLING MYSELF.
UPDATE:
TODAY: I AM HERE, ON 6/1/2011, 11 DAYS BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY, THEY SAY I HAVE 2 NOW (10/13/2010 IS THE OTHER), PREPARING TO DO A 5K FOR THIS WONDERFUL CAUSE THAT I BELIEVE SO STRONGLY IN, HEALTHIER THAN I’VE BEEN IN MANY YEARS. 9 STENTS IN MY CHEST AND 4 HEART ATTACKS LATER, IM HEALTHY, HAPPY AND LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING MORE WITH MY LIFE AND THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION. I CAN WALK AND SING (TALK, LAUGH, HUM) AT THE SAME TIME NOW WITHOUT LOSING MY BREATH! I COULDN’T DO THAT BEFORE Y’ALL! THANK YOU GOD!!! THANK YOU MOM DAD! AND THANK YOU AHA!

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