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Ruth Solberg’s Story

Cardiomyopathy Survivor, Age 60, Fall Creek, WI

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Ruth's Story

When I was 38, I got a virus. I was a healthy single Mom of 5 and I had just finished college. I was exercising – walking 4 mi a day, drank diet coke, but I still kept gaining weight.  Then it was getting hard to breathe, so I took some allergy meds, but they did nothing. Slowly things got worse and I would wake up at night gasping for air, until I could only sleep sitting up.

When I went to the Dr., he did an EKG.  When he came in to talk to me he had a shocked look on his face.  He said “You have congestive heart failure.”  I didn’t know much about that but my thoughts were – ok give me something so I get better. We waited too long to do something and I ended up in the hospital minutes away from dying.  My ejection fraction was 18%. I still didn’t realize how bad it was. A couple days later, a nurse came into the room and she said, “You realize you’re going to need a heart transplant within 3 years.”.  I’m like, WHAT? I have kids to raise yet.  I went home after things were under control and got lots and lots of rest.  That’s all I could do.  I was on lots of meds for a couple years and they came out with a new one.  The Dr had me try it and thank God it worked!  I’ll be on meds the rest of my life, and my heart’s not normal, but it’s a lot better than it was.  I’m leading a pretty normal life except I have CAD now.  I have a stent, but all is well with that for now.

My message is  - Know your body.  If something seems off, get it checked. Don’t put it off.  I waited 6 months before I went in.  And also, remember the heart symptoms for women can be very different, sometimes, subtle. Just be aware and be educated. I’m 59 now and know a lot more than the average person about my body because I need to know what’s going on with me. I now have 15 1/2 grandchildren and proud of all of them.

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Ruth is interested in giving support to other women with heart disease. Contact her if you'd like to receive support.

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