Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Torn Hearts and Lives Changed Forever

February 22, 2018

Mom, Nana, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Sister-in-law, Aunt, Niece, Cousin, Friend, Encourager…and so much more. That was my mom.. She lived a full life before passing away suddenly on August 2, 2000 at the age of 46. Her cause of death revealed by an autopsy, SCAD.

It was a beautiful August day. She spent it doing things she enjoyed. All seemed ok until she started to feel bad, then worse. She decided to lay down and my dad rubbed her back. She leaned up, said “something is happening” and took her last breath.

My dad called 911, administered CPR as he had been trained to do a few short months before. The ambulance arrives shortly before I do. I am frantic! Mom! No! Why? I feel faint. I hold the wall. The nightmare begins and nothing makes sense.

The workers are kind. I can tell by the looks on their faces that they already know. Shock, clear, shock, clear, shock, clear, shock, clear…nothing.

My dad cries into a kitchen towel, shaking his head, terrified look on his face. “She’s gone.” He says over and over.

The Ambulance workers load her on to a stretcher. She is blue and cold. “It’s ok” I tell myself over and over as I race behind the ambulance to the hospital. Knuckles gripping my steering wheel so tight that they turn white. “Please Lord! Please Lord! Please Lord!” I cry over and over again. “Medicine is advanced, they can help her,” I tell myself repeatedly.

Cold hospital.
A Nun walks over to sit at my side. We are not Catholic.
More family and friends gather.
A doctor comes out to talk with us.

“Is she allergic to anything,” he asks. Did he say “is?”
Oh thank you Lord.
Present tense, “is.”
It’s all ok. I feel like I can breathe.
But then, like a balloon quickly deflating, a few other confusing sentences, followed by, “we did everything we could do.”
It cannot be oh please, please no!!

I look down at my nephew, four at the time, his little face! Oh so heartbroken! He adored his nana and now she is gone! Ripped from our lives abruptly!

So many questions, no answers.
Oh the unimaginable grief!
Panic attacks! What in the world?
I had no idea what those even were! “Why’s?”
“If only’s” fill our days as grief overtakes our lives.

We are Christians.
We don’t grieve without hope.
We know where she is, we know we will see her again, but the pain feels unbearable at times.

Minutes, hours, days pass. Lots of questions, no answers. I call the Medical Examiner’s office to inquire about her Autopsy.
I beg, I plead, I cry for answers thinking somehow the pain will ease.

Weeks pass, months, then finally….an answer.
Or is it?

Autopsy arrives in the mail in a large envelope. Details are so hard to read. It seems gruesome, but so necessary, I need to know.
There it is…
Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection.
What is that?
I seek answers.

The internet offers very little. I ask a doctor friend. He assured me it is very rare and there is absolutely nothing we could have done.
Fear, anger, panic, hurt, sorrow….

What else can we do?

I cried out to the Lord and He heard my cry. He started to heal me and pull me out of the pit of grief and despair. I trust Him. I know I will see my mom again. The best is yet to come for all of us who trust in Jesus.
But still a nagging fear at times. Will this affect me, my sister, my niece or other family members?

17 1/2 years have passed. Life has changed so much. I was 23 when I lost my 46 year old mom. I am married now and have two little blessings. They are both adopted. I often wonder if pregnancy would have been too hard on me and led to SCAD? I have spent countless hours researching this disease. Reading about others who have been effected. Having my heart tested and the Cardiologist assuring me how rare it is to have SCAD. I wish she were right, but evidence and research is now suggesting otherwise.

Life was a blessing to my mom and she spent each day living it to the fullest. The daughter of a Pastor and a family who loved her dearly.

Blessed with a happy marriage and a grandson who was the light of her life. Family was so important to her and so were her friends. She encouraged all and loved fiercely. She was a musician, although she never gave herself enough credit for her talent. She made beautiful music with her dear friend, Dennis. She was quick to encourage, slow to criticize and wise beyond her years.

She was loved.

She is missed.

She is forever in our hearts.


SCAD Heart Attack Awareness Week
February 2018