I had my first stent 11 years ago. I had a 100% blockage of the LAD artery. My brother told me to “stay scared” and I knew what he meant, but eventually I fell back into old habits. I was ‘fixed’ and having no problems, so what was the big deal? That caught up to me this year. For several months I was getting occasional pains in my chest that didn’t last long and I would usually eat up some children’s aspirin (4 chewables) and go on my way. I was already taking a regular 325 mg aspirin each day, but carried the children’s aspirin in my purse. I’d had a treadmill test last summer and was told my heart was fine (although I still wasn’t so sure).
In February my life changed. My step-father committed suicide and my mom had to be moved to an assisted living home all within a week. Then we had to begin moving all of her stuff out of the house so my step-brother could sell it. I began ‘eating’ baby aspirin under the extra physical and emotional stress. I went to a new cardiologist who did an EKG and started me on metoprolol and nitro (which I was afraid to take) and my general doctor began meds for depression and stress. As each week went by, I told everyone I didn’t have time for an angiogram until all of Mom’s stuff was taken care of…I even told God that it had to wait and that I knew He understood. Thankfully, by (literally) the grace of God, He did. After two months of pain that came more and more frequent, and not being able to walk even at a moderate rate or go up a short flight of stairs without angina hitting (sometimes hard), I finally scheduled an angiogram. The cardio Dr chastised me about not taking my nitro so I began that and found that the effects weren’t as bad as I thought and the pain eased immediately. I ended up taking my nitro 12 times in the two weeks leading up to the angiogram.
I had a radial angiogram (thru my wrist instead of my groin) and they found 100% blockage in the LAD (but NOT in the 11 year old stent), just above the old stent, and 80% blockage in the OM1 (also in the left coronary artery). They were able to stent both. I now have 24 sessions of cardiac rehab, which is going amazingly well. The difference is night and day in how I feel and what I can do. I look back on what was happening inside for 2 months and realize how close I came to not being here to write this story. God must not be done with me here on earth yet and I’m thankful that I was able to do what I did… but also thankful that I didn’t wait a single day longer. Looking back I realize that it was very foolish not to put my heart first and make everything wait for me to do it.
I don’t want to fall back into old habits of eating and exercising and i want to be more active in sharing my story and getting all the facts out there to female friends and family about heart disease. I now realize that I am not just someone who had a temporary heart issue that was fixed and all is good, so no biggie. I have had to realize that I am a woman with heart disease and always will be and that the changes I am making must be followed the rest of my life…and I can’t tell enough women to take care of their hearts.