Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Still in shock…

February 21, 2017

On September 23rd, 2016 I went to bed feeling fine. I received a text around 11 P.M. so I reached over and looked at my phone, as I laid back in bed there was this surge of pain across my chest. At first I thought it was just from reaching for my phone, but the pain didn’t go away. I sat up and truly thought I was just having anxiety because I had lost my step father in a tragic car accident 3 days before and we were going to the funeral the next morning. I was very close to my step father so I was not handling his death very well at all. The medical examiner said that he had probably suffered a heart attack, which caused the accident.

I just knew my chest pain was nothing serious. I went downstairs to my son’s room hoping the pain would go away…I came back upstairs and woke up my husband and told him something was wrong. I laid on the floor and tried different positions to see if the pain would stop. I stood up and the pain shot down my left arm. That’s when my husband flew out of bed and we were at the E.R. within 10 minutes.

Of course they rush you back and start testing. My EKG was fine, my blood work was fine. The nurse was pretty sure it was anxiety, but she had to repeat one blood test to make sure my heart enzymes weren’t rising. The second blood test showed my enzymes were a little elevated. She wanted to wait an hour and test it again. She still wasn’t worried. The third test showed more elevation so she decided the cardiologist needed to come in and check me out. I was a little concerned but I was more upset that I wouldn’t be able to attend my step father’s funeral later that day in St. Louis. I live in Kansas City and the nurse told me I probably wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon.

The cardiologist came in and said he wanted to do a heart catheterization through a vein in my wrist. I was taken to an O.R. There were so many people in the room getting everything ready. I was kind of awake and I remember them asking the doctor which music he wanted to listen to. The procedure started and within a few minutes it seemed, the room became chaotic. A surgeon came in and told me that I needed surgery to repair my heart. My artery was tearing. He asked me if I understood him. I nodded. My husband, son, and step daughter came in to kiss me. My mom was in St Louis at the funeral but was on her way. I had emergency open heart surgery which included a double bypass. I still have a heard time saying it out loud, I mean I’m only 43! I woke up in the ICU and was in a lot of pain.

It was a 6 week recovery before I went back to work. My world is not the same. I think about my gift of survival everyday. I don’t know how or why I survived, but I am so grateful everyday. I also have a constant fear of it happening again. Every pain makes me question if I am having another heart attack. I’m a survivor…I will never take that for granted.