Hello, my name is Roxanne and I just turned 57. On June 14,2010 I almost lost my life because I was not educated in atypical signs a woman may have when she is having a heart attack. My story began May of 2010 when I was having terrible indigestion. I would be in bed for a day or two very sick and vomiting up acid, and then I would feel better for a day or two. I could not eat because food seemed only to make it worse. I had been to my Doctor and he felt it was GERD. When I called his office and said it was getting worse, the nurse would only up the milligram of the over the counter form of nexium. He finally ordered an endoscopy for me. I had that done two weeks before I had my heart attack. I have no idea what made me get out of bed on June 14th, and drive to the ER but I am so thankful I did.
This is when things were very atypical. When they took my blood pressure it was normal, but when they did the EKG everything got crazy. Baby aspirin were being put in my mouth by the handful, an IV. was started and the Dr. was giving me different medications through it, and a nitro gel was put on my chest. Life-Flight had been called and they were there very quickly. Now, through all of this I kept telling them I was not having a heart attack, but had GERD. I think when they loaded me into Life-Flight hot (running and ready to go) that I realized how bad this was. In 6 minutes the had me to hospital that dealt with this type of attack. When they landed and unloaded me hot and were running down the hall with me, I knew this was really serious.
I was taken to the cath. lab Immediately. At this point things become blurred and all I remember was the burning in my chest had stopped and I heard them say my vitals were dropping rapidly. After that I don’t remember anything until I woke up, which was actually pretty funny because I woke up with a resident’s hand on my womanly parts. He popped his head up over the sheet and told me that he was holding his hand there to prevent a clot from forming there. When I was finally allowed out of bed and looked in the mirror, it looked like I had half of a dark purple bikini on.When i was no longer in a fog I was told that I had survived the widow maker. I had thrown a clot around to the back of my heart during the procedure, and I was lucky to have the best female surgeon because she saved my life. However, my hearts output was only 23% and their was an area of my heart that had died. I was in the hospital for 11 days.
I searched for women’s heart support groups in my area and the closest one was 2 1/2 hours away. I realized I was on my own at this point and I had to feel whatever I had to feel to get the anger and why me’s out. I cried quite often and living alone didn’t help. I had no help at home so it was up to me alone. I began reading everything I found about womens atypical signs of a heart attack. I signed up to get more information through a monthly newsletter on a few of the sites, but they never came. I felt it was me against the world at this point. I have suffered from depression quite a bit at this time and my doctor worked with me to find the right medication for it. He said it is quite common after a heart attack to become depressed.
I found grocery shopping hard because it took me hours to read labels to check sodium content in each thing. The medication was making me a bit forgetful which concerned me. As soon as he lowered the dosage of my one pill it got better. I become weak some days and sleep a lot and other days I am fine. So it has been an adjustment for me, but I have learned to work around my bad days.
In December of 2010 they put a defibrillator in me because research has shown that women in my age group often get rapid heart rates at some point, so it is just a precaution. I tell everybody I have my own jumper cables.
My story does not end here. I August of 2012 I had the burning and indigestion again. My daughter took me to the ER and I was admitted. They said I had GERD, but I kept telling them It felt just like it did when I had my heart attack. Finally they put an order in for the cath lab. Now they talk right outside the door and they say they know they are not going to find anything. The surprise was on them when they had to place another stent, this time in my coronary artery. Listening to this doctor talking to his residents the next day was rather funny because he sure changed his way of thinking. He told them that they had learned a very important lesson about women’s atypical symptoms. If I would not have kept pushing them i would probably have had another heart attack.
To end this story, I want all women to listen to their bodies and when a doctor says it is nothing they can demand they run tests to see what is wrong. Many women have heart attacks because they believe they just have indigestion, and heartburn that will go away.I tell every woman I can to be aware of what symptoms may be heart related. I tell women everywhere to demand an EKG if they feel that the doctor has not provided them with an answer to why they feel like they do.
To all of you on this site, I say thank you because I came to this site often for information and to read others stories.