Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Affairs of the Heart

There was no pain at all.  But I knew something was not right. 

  I was short of breath walking from my classroom to the parking lot.  I was more tired than usual.  I had gained weight for no reason at all.

But there was no pain.  There was no racing heartbeat.  There were really no warning signs other than the vague symptoms mentioned above.

I didn’t want to miss school so on Saturday, August 24 I went to a walk in clinic.  I could not find the first one I looked up so instead of going home I went to a second clinic.

I described my ambiguous symptoms and the Doctor said she wanted to take an EKG.  There was one little blip that was not right.  She would not let me leave.  She called an ambulance and they took me to the emergency room.

I was admitted on a Saturday.  They told me the cath lab would not open till Monday unless someone had an emergency and then they would get me in.

I settled into my room.  My husband was there and my sister.  The next thing I knew, I threw up.  After that I became the emergency.

I had a heart attack.

I don’t remember much about that day.  The surgeon did open heart surgery, a triple by pass.  There was a 90% blockage in one of my arteries, the other two were 70% blocked.  My endocrinologist told me I broke his heart because he thought they were going to lose me.
Turns out, I was one sick puppy.  My kidneys stopped functioning too.

I was in Cardiac Intensive Care for 9 days.  My legs were so swollen I could hardly bend them.  I was full of fluids and had all sorts of tubes coming out of me. I was delirious from some of the medication and imagined seeing things on the ceiling.  That was the scariest time. The nurses were extremely compassionate, gentle and caring.

I had dialysis 4 times.  The dialysis team was wonderful.

I was in a room for 9 more days, waiting for the kidneys to kick in.  They finally did and now I am home.  The nurses, once again, epitomized caring, compassionate individuals.

I had many visitors.  My husband, my family, and my friends made an effort to come see me.  They certainly kept me cheerful and hopeful.  Friends sent gifts.  There were lots of flowers from family and friends.

 I had over 100 cards from family, friends, and students.  I have read them over many times and am grateful for each visit and each card.

My chest is twist tied together with metal bands.  I am building up my strength.  I started walking 5 minutes 3 times a day and am now up to 11 minutes.  I am on a low salt, low fat diet.
But there was never any pain.

I am deeply grateful to be alive.  I am amazed that I followed through and went to the walk in clinic, if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be here.  I have immense love and appreciation for my family.  It brings tears to my eyes when I think of how much we all care for each other.  I am so grateful to my husband who came to visit frequently and took care of the dogs for 18 long days.

My priorities have shifted.  My family is number 1 and I intend to spend more time with all of them.  I miss the kids at school and am grateful to the school for making this as easy as possible.
Hard work is ahead.  They say every week in the hospital will take you three weeks to recover, so I have about an 8 week period until I feel like myself again.  I probably won’t be ready to go back to school until Thanksgiving.

So please take this away from my story.  There was no pain.  If you don’t feel right, get it checked out.  Don’t put if off.  It saved my life.


  1. I've been hoping you would write this experience down. Thank you for telling us what you've been through. The Saturday night of your surgery there were prayers heading your way from all directions. Thank goodness those surgeons can do what they do. I was also concerned about you picking up one of those terrible infections that are becoming so common. To see you looking SO GOOD so soon after all this trauma to your body and your spirit is truly amazing. I'm beyond grateful you are still here with us.

    1. Thank you Sue, you really helped me get through this. I am so grateful to you and my family and friends for making it easier. Even though we aren't together I knew your spirits and prayers were with me.

  2. Deb... the love and caring that were pointed toward Florida during your illness was amazing. We all care about you so much and we waited for any word. Day was a good "point man" as was Chris and every update was greeted with thanks for another day of improvement. So glad you are home and continuing daily improvement!

  3. Deb, We are so grateful for your recovery! Take one step at a time and enjoy the love of your family. Be well - The Benoits

  4. Hi Debbie! I think about you very often. Yes, it's true. I'm so glad that you listened to the messages from the Universe and took yourself to be checked out. How fortunate that you had good doctors and medical staff. I am thankful that they were able to fix you up and get you on the road to recovery. Good for you. Happy Belated July 21st birthday. Please continue to take good care of yourself. Sent with love, Michelle/Mikki Crow. Beechwood, 1983.