I have been feeling unwell for quite some time, since around the time that mum passed away last year, I have had quite a few trips to the Emergency Department at the local hospitals with nothing being found and me being sent home, with a diagnosis of "anxiety".
Just last week , on the 23rd September, it all came to a head. I seriously thought that I was going to die!!
It all started with me waking and feeling unwell, slowly throughout the day, it built in symptoms - dizziness, breathlessness when moving short distances, a dull ache between my shoulder blades and a pressure on my chest that slowly built in intensity until it felt like I had a small child sitting on my chest.
Hubby was off at work and I decided I would try to ring him and see where he was and if he could take me to the hospital. After many attempts to call him and no answer - (he was on his rideon mower and couldn't hear the phone), I decided to call an ambulance.
The paramedics arrived and took one look at me and started going through the motions of treating me for a Heart Attack!!!! Here I was at 47 years of age, fearing for my life and thinking that I was going to die without seeing my husband and children ever again.
Off to hospital we went, where they put me straight on to monitors and took bloods for testing. The weirdest part was, everything looked normal. There was nothing showing on the ECG, blood tests came back clear on the first run, oxygen levels were good. They had no idea what was going on.
They told me that they would send off a second set of bloods, 6 hours after the initial episode, because that is when they would be able to tell if anything had actually happened to my heart.
The second set of bloods came back positive, showing risen levels of troponin and cardiac enzymes, that show there is possible damage to the heart. So I was admitted.....
Testing started, with me being put on a Holter Monitor for 48 hours, regular blood tests and bed rest. The cardiac specialist came to see me and told me that he thought it would be beneficial for me to have an angiogram done as well, just to see what damage had been done and work out the next course of action for me. I had an echo-cardiogram done and I was told that the results looked fantastic. Blood flow was normal, there appeared to be no blockage or damage done that they could see. But the angiogram would be the most accurate of all tests to see exactly what was going on.
I was scheduled to have that done on the 28th September, which meant being in hospital over the coming week, while we waited for a spot to become available for me.
On the 28th of September, I woke early in the morning and found my husband sitting beside my bed, waiting patiently for me to wake. They were hoping to get me in early in the morning, so we began the waiting game,
Finally at 12.30pm, I was collected and taken to the Cardiac Lab where the angio would be performed. Terry was waiting outside in the room for the procedure to be done. We had been told that it would be a short amount of time to do the test, 30 - 40 minutes, unless they had to insert stents or do any ballooning.
Little did he know, the doctor had been called away to the theatre to help with a pacemaker procedure and the nursing staff had been sent on a much needed lunch break, so the 30 - 40 minutes, ended up being 2 1/2 hours!
Terry had no idea what was happening, that I hadn't even been taken in for the test yet, so he was starting to get very anxious, as you could imagine. Luckily, one of the nurses from the ward I was in, came in to make some notes in my file, so I asked her to please let him know that I was ok and still waiting.
Eventually, I was taken in for the test, which took the routine time of 30 - 40 minutes and the results showed that there was no damage at all. My heart was perfect!
We still have no idea if what I experienced was an actual minor heart attack or something else. I have been sent home with a whole new range of medication - blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication (even though my levels are normal, this will supposedly help to keep the arteries from building up any plaque, etc) and aspirin, which I will most likely be on for life. I've also been signed up for Cardiac Rehab which will run for 12 weeks and during that time, I will not be able to return to work.
Through this whole experience, we have learned a very valuable lesson. Never take anything for granted, appreciate what you have and make the most of each day!
The bittersweet part, but probably also a bit of a godsend was, I was in hospital for the anniversary of my mother's passing away, so I didn't have time to dwell on it. Terry bought flowers and placed them on her grave and I went to visit her when I was released from hospital. Those 12 months have gone way too quickly! I still miss her, but it doesn't feel as raw as it did before.
Just remember, when you wake each morning to a brand new day....