I asked my sister what she would want to read about on my new heart blog, and she said my experience. I hadn’t actually thought of writing about that yet, which is kind of funny I suppose. So here goes…the very short version of my heart attack.
On Tuesday, December 20, I was sitting at my desk at work, at about 6pm. Without warning, boom, chest pain. First in front, right behind my sternum, and within minutes in my back, opposite. It wasn’t actually painful, it felt like someone was pressing on either side of me with their fists.
I told my coworker Andrea, and she brought me an antacid because she had read recently that indigestion could easily be mistaken for heart attacks. After a few minutes, I was laying on the floor at work, trying to decide what to do, while 3 of my favorite coworkers stood over me. Was it an anxiety attack? A pulled muscle? Gallbladder? No one had any answers.
After probably 30 minutes, I got in the car and drove 30 minutes home. Both arms were heavy, my hands were tingly and my neck hurt too. I was tired…but that was nothing out of the ordinary for me. I drank a bottle of water on the way home, and that seemed to make me nauseous. By the time I got home I was on the verge of being sick, sweating and shaking. I collapsed on the couch.
For about 3 hours, I was laying there, googling things like “heart attack symptoms” and “what causes chest pain”. I don’t remember much during this time–I think I was in and out of sleep, but I wasn’t sleeping much because I was too uncomfortable. If I stayed very still, I was ok, but any sort of movement took great effort. Another thing to note is the chest pain was the same whether I was laying down, sitting, standing, walking…it was consistently there.
At 10:30, my mom came over, took one look at me and said “OK, get up, we’re going to the hospital!” I got a little upset, telling her I didn’t want to go pay hundreds of dollars or more, to be told I had an upset stomach.
I finally decided to go in because a) the pain was still there despite taking the antacid 4 hours ago, b) I figured I probably couldn’t sleep, and 3) I knew I couldn’t go to work tomorrow. I gave in.
There wasn’t 1 other person in the emergency room that night. They checked me in quickly, and after trying to put the wristband on my mom, they took us back to a bed. I had a normal EKG, and other normal tests. They gave me some other stuff to drink. Everything was normal. The only thing left was a blood test.
Well then I got mad–how could they not figure it out without a blood test. I guess I was being irrational, I’m not afraid of needles…I was just being stubborn. The doctor actually threw up his hands at one point and walked out of my room. OK so I was probably scared. I finally gave in to that too.
About 1:30am, a new doctor came into my room, woke me up, and informed me that my blood test results were back. She said there’s one particular test that looks for an enzyme in your heart–it’s called Troponin. The normal level is .01%. If it is any higher than that, it indicates some trauma to the heart in which some of the enzyme is released into the bloodstream. My Troponin level was 1.14. She said there’s an ambulance on the way, we’d like you to go to Provo to the Cardiac Unit.
I was stunned.
I asked her why I couldn’t just ride with my mom. She said “Because if you have a heart attack on your way to Provo, your mom won’t know what to do.”
So off we went…it was actually kind of fun. The paramedics were awesome, and I’d never ridden in an ambulance before. I started texting my sisters at that point–and Hillary got in the car immediately–she picked up my phone charger too (priorities!).
I don’t remember much else that happened for the next couple hours. Around 4am they took another blood test, and Hill and my mom headed home. But then the blood test came back and that’s when I sort of lost it. My Troponin was now 18.78. I asked the nurse what that meant, and she just said “It’s not good.” She said they would tell the doctor and she told me some other things that might happen next.
Around 6am I had an ultrasound–in which the tech said everything looked normal, even though he wasn’t supposed to tell me that. I should add that I had low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and low cholesterol. I also have no family history of heart disease.
I think it was around 7am that I went in for an Angiogram–they were intending to go in through my femoral artery, shoot some dye through each of my heart arteries, and look for a blockage. My cardiologist, Scott Bingham, told me he thought it was a 50/50 chance that there would even be a blockage.
When they found the blocked artery, they started cheering (yes, I was awake). I started to cry at that point–I felt a mix of emotions: relief that they found something, could fix it and I also overwhelmed that indeed I did have a heart problem. They put 2 stents in the same artery, and I was good to go.
The rest of the day, I just recovered and talked to my people–a lot of them–in person and some in other parts of the world. I felt a lot of love that day–I was never alone. We relaxed, watched some football, and I tried to write a few birthday cards (still had a couple hundred to go to finish up #imbringingbirthdaysback). I also remember feeling chest pain throughout the day.
But on Thursday morning, I woke up, chest pain was gone! I checked out of the hospital and went to my parents house where I basically lived through New Year’s Day. Christmas was a blur, I didn’t give away one present and I didn’t eat any desserts. I felt emotional all the time–for months actually. Happy to be alive and overwhelmed with how to fix this problem.
I went back to work on January 3–I was bored at home–I needed my people! The first day I worked 5 hours, went home early and then slept 5 hours. Then slept all night too! And then life just continued on…only I was now a heart patient.
And that’s about it–my heart attack story. It’s definitely the short version–I should make a video to save you from having to read a post so long! 🙂 Maybe someday…but for now, I want to say THANK YOU for reading all of that because I am very appreciative. ❤