Last week, I had quite the adventure. An adventure I didn’t plan for nor expect in the least. I’m a healthy, forty-nine year old woman training for a marathon to celebrate her fiftieth birthday because #fiftyisnifty, right?
As I was cleaning out my fridge, I felt a strange click in my chest, then immediately felt all kinds of pressure/pain in my chest and neck. I called a nurse advice line to ask for advice, thinking it was nothing serious. The woman calmly told me to hang up, take an aspirin and call 911. WHAT THE ? Well, that escalated! The pain persisted so off I went to the ER (we drove…yes, I know what you are thinking).
ER did every test imaginable and found…nothing. All my vitals were perfect. My pain/pressure subsided so they sent me home. Weird. I felt terrible the next day but nothing like the previous night. However, I quickly felt back to normal so went about my business, thinking the pain/pressure was a fluke.
I took a few days to recover then decided to go back to my normal running routine. Bean and I woke up early to head out for our run. I felt great! I felt alive! I had a huge smile on my face and then, WHAM. I felt all kinds of pressure and pain again in my chest and neck. I called Bean and immediately, he knew. I was in bad shape. I’ll spare you the traumatic details but we drove straight to the ER again. Yes, I know. CALL 911. I’ve learned my lesson, let me tell you.
Once again, my vitals were perfect, EKG good and blood test showed nothing abnormal. I began to think I was going crazy! The pain subsided again (seriously?) yet I knew something wasn’t right. Thankfully, the ER suggested a stress test. As I arrived at the hospital, they did one more blood test (this is hours later, by the way). Voila, something was indeed going on. My troponin levels were elevated indicating cardiac issues. Wait, what? Cardiac issues? I am healthy, relatively young (ha!) woman to have cardiac issues. This is probably why ER sent me home the first time. I didn’t fit the stereotypical patient with cardiac issues.
Lo and behold, I had a SCAD. A Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. Yeah, that. Next thing I know, I am in a cath lab getting a stent. I KNOW, I AM IN SHOCK AS WELL! My artery somehow tore, healed itself with a blood clot and blocked the blood flow to my heart. As in 99% blocked. My cardiologist repaired the artery which was quite the feat as it was a “tricky” one (direct quote). Suffice to say, I had several scary moments before the angiogram where I wondered if I was going to make it through this.
This phenomena happens to healthy women between the ages 30-50 years of age. They usually find it post-mortem. I’ll repeat that last line. THEY USUALLY FIND IT POST-MORTEM. I am lucky to be alive. In fact, I am so effing grateful to be alive, I can’t even express.
I’ve been home one week now. I’m getting used to my new normal which is what, I don’t even know. I’m struggling with PTSD, fatigue, intermittent pain and fear of the unknown. I’m writing about this experience because I find writing to be a therapy for me. I am also writing because awareness is important. I’m writing because I am a survivor.
I’m grateful. The Lord is present with me, carrying me and meeting me. He is good no matter what happens to me.