Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

I’m Too Busy Today to Be Having A Heart Attack

July 24, 2016

Tuesday May 10th, 2016…6:55 AM. I’m throwing my lab coat into my bag and heading out the door to the garage, where my 2 teenage daughters are waiting for me in the car. As I am walking through the dining room, I feel a deep, mid chest pain….just a little more noticeable than my normal gastro-esophageal reflux symptoms. Hmm…then I experience shooting-electrical-like pain from my fingers to my jaw. I’m thinking, “MI? Can’t be. I’m only 49. It’s in my right arm…but I’m female”.

I quickly get to the car knowing that if I can just make it to work….I drove exactly 100 yards, before my “nursing mind” was able to override my ” I-can-do-anything-mind”. I quickly turned around, drive past my house to my neighbor’s house (a retired RN buddy). I told my daughter to go knock on her door, as I used my cell to call 911 and report I was having an MI. The EMTs show up, hook me up for an EKG and I have the classic “ST-elevation-MI”, or STEMI as it is known. My pressure is through the roof….190s/100s…..not like my typical 120-74. I close my eyes and try to get myself to relax. Nitro #1 (and it does taste yucky)….Nitro #2 (I secretly apologize to all the patients I’ve given this drug to in the past)…then get to the doors of the ED in the hospital where I have worked for 24 years.

The time in the ED was swift, then off to the Cath Lab. I remember one of the Cardiologists saying ” It looks like a SCAD”. I’m thinking, “What is he talking about? “. Two more Cardiologists concur. I’m looking at the screen, and he’s explaining the image. I’m thinking this would be really cool, if it wasn’t my heart we were looking at. I get whisked off to the Coronary Care Unit, where I am reunited with my neighbor, my friend (also an RN), and my husband (who had a 256.00 cab ride to make it to the hospital ).

4 days in CCU, Nitro drips, rebound headaches, lots of bruising, 6 weeks of Cardiac Rehab (those folks are saints), big fancy pill dispenser. I’m very thankful to all those who were involved in my care. I am thankful for my friends and my family. I’m thankful to my Cardiology team and all the RNs who were stuck caring for me during my hospital stay( nurses are the worst patients).

The one thing that does disturb me is that prior to May 10th, I had never heard of SCAD! I have been a nurse for 25 years, all my friends are nurses, and we’d never heard of SCAD before!

I encourage all my fellow SCAD patients to work diligently, embrace the changes to lifestyle, enjoy life, and talk about this when you feel the need to.