Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Is The Difference?

So, a few posts back I posted that of the women that initially survive a heart attack, 42% of those women die with in a year.  I wonder why these women die because I still have five and a half months of this statistic hanging over my head.  October 13 is my heart anniversary.  I have searched blogs of women that have suffered heart attacks and found that there are women that are still very sick from their heart attack even years after the heart attack.  I have been really questioning why these women are not doing as well as me--what is the difference?

I have read over and over about women who were having a  heart attack that drove themselves or had someone else drive them to the hospital and were misdiagnosed and sent home.  They are misdiagnosed with a multitude of different illnesses.  Back strain, gallbladder disease, indigestion and panic attacks and the flu.   Mostly they were misdiagnosed because heart attacks can present as back strain, gallbladder disease, indigestion, panic attacks and the flu.  The thing is, when they are misdiagnosed, the heart muscle damage they suffer only gets worse.  Once you suffer heart muscle damage, your heart is just damaged.  It doesn't fix itself.  So here these women are having been misdiagnosed and their heart muscle is slowly dying as they are sent home.  My heart breaks for them.  I have read about women who can hardly brush their own hair, take a shower by themselves or walk from the car to the house because of the heart muscle damage their heart attacks caused them. 

So, why am I not in the same shape after the massive heart attack that I suffered?  I can tell you that immediately following my heart attack, I laid in the ICU thinking that this is what my life would be like.  All I could picture was not being able to function.  I am so fortunate that things did not turn out this way for me.  What was different for me?  I asked that over and over--how did I get so lucky?  I got lucky by chance.

The day I had my heart attack, I had just the right set of circumstances that made me call an ambulance.  I had the right combination of symptoms that gave me the feeling that I would die if I didn't get help and get it quickly.  Don't get me wrong, I had all the same things go through my head as anyone else would--should I call the ambulance?  What if it is just indigestion?  I was home by myself so if I went in an ambulance, I wouldn't have a ride home if they didn't keep me.  It turned out to be a good thing that I was home by myself because I couldn't talk my decision over with anyone.  I couldn't say I'll just wait until after the kids are fed or homework is done.  There wasn't anything else for me to concentrate on other than how bad I felt.

In the end, I called the ambulance.  When they loaded me in the ambulance, my blood pressure was 200/120--way high!  From the ambulance they called my symptoms into the ER.  As a result, when we arrived, I never saw a member of the ER staff.  The docs and nurses I saw were all part of the specialized cardiac team.  They called them into the hospital and they had all arrived when I got there and were waiting for me.  I had a fabulous interventional cardiologist that had no doubt that a woman my age could be having a heart attack.  The reality was I had 100% blockage of my left descending coronary artery also known as the widow maker. I was lucky not to be misdiagnosed.  He told me I did everything right.

As I continue to read the stories that are not as successful as mine, I continue to become more thankful and understand more and more that I am so very lucky. I take advantage of this as I have completely changed my lifestyle.  I am totally no oil added vegan and I exercise everyday.  I have started walking at lunch for 30 minutes everyday with one of my coworkers.  We have been doing this for three weeks.  I have not had a soda in over a week.  I have great co workers that cheer me on as well as family and friends.  I am a very lucky gal!

In the end, all I can come up with as I continue to think about it is that luck was the only difference.

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