Serious as a heart attack, or two even.

*I hate whine posts, so I’m going to try to avoid that.*

Very early Thursday morning I woke at about 2:30 a.m. in a cold sweat. I felt like someone had punched me in the chest. My first thought was indigestion, so I sat up for a moment looking around until I was more fully awake. I went to take some antacids and realised that I was dizzy. I went back to bed instead. I drifted back to sleep and woke again about 10 minutes later with tachycardia. Once more, I tried to go back to sleep. The third time I woke up, I couldn’t go back to sleep again. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest, and the pain then branched out and radiated into my jaw, my right arm and down my neck and into my lower back. The breaths were short and painful.

This is when I thought–I could be having a heart attack. I immediately followed that thought with another thought. I’m only 32. There’s no way this is a heart attack. The symptoms continued to get worse over a spread of a few hours. The chest pain and pressure would come and go, the arm pain would come and go. The feeling of lock jaw was then joined by waves of nausea, extreme dizziness and confusion. For a bit there, I didn’t even know where I was. I took four baby aspirin and tried again to go to sleep, thinking that I was having some sort of panic attack.

The symptoms went away, for the most part.

I got up around 8 and tried to begin my day. I felt like a limp noodle. No energy, confusion still present, massive headache and sweats and chills. I couldn’t stop coughing and my hands were alternating numbness. My heart was still in weird rhythms. I slept most of the day, waking every now and again with various issues mentioned above. When I got up it was afternoon. I felt tired, but okay.

Then I went to talk to a neighbour. My right arm began to tingle and the uncomfortable sensation spread to my jaw and spine. My heart began beating erratically again. I went down, face first in the drive. Off to the ER.

Without boring you to death with all the minor details, not that this hasn’t been boring enough, I went to the hostpital, got hooked up to every monitoring device know to man, had a series of blood tests done (I’m immune to Vampires.) X-rays of my chest and EEG, EKG, ECG as well as other tests I don’t even have an abbreviation for.

The labs came back during the ECG/EKG. Want to talk about timing? I was already in the midst of the SECOND HEART ATTACK when the labs came back confirming the first. You know–that thing I ignored really early that morning. Turns out a blood clot was responsible for the first one. Since I didn’t call 911 and I didn’t move fast to get help, there is now damage to the left chambers of my heart. And that is my fault.

The second one was more of the same, but I was there and they were able to help me. I will now be on blood thinners to prevent this from happening. I also get a cocktail of downers (Adavan and such) to keep my stress levels and anxiety down. I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, so meds for that too. I will see a specialist next week to decide if the 40 percent damage I did will require surgical intervention.

Now here’s the important part:

Ladies, (Sorry men but you guys have different symptoms.)

I am 32 years old. It happened to me.

If you feel any of these things happening to you and that voice inside your head says “Something isn’t right,” get to the hospital right away. Don’t wait. You aren’t being silly. You aren’t overreacting. Reacting will save your life. It is better to be wrong and be safe, than to not go and suffer worse consequences.

It is not always a “movie heart attack” that will strike you down. I really had very little pain, mostly just discomfort.

One more important thing.

This cardiac room had lots of machines, including Fred, my heart monitor and newest pet. I have to take him on a leash everywhere I go. That wasn’t the important thing though. This room has no telly. That wasn’t either.

Okay really. This made me put everything in perspective. We stress out a lot about little things in our lives that we turn into big crisis. We show anger before we show love and affection. We take for granted the ones who are closest to us and offer us the most support. We are never guaranteed a tomorrow. Never.

Think on that.

If you need me, I’ll be blowing up gloves and making balloon animals.

Love you guys.Β  Sorry about the typos. My right hand has no strength yet, so typing is taking forever.

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86 thoughts on “Serious as a heart attack, or two even.

  1. Oh gosh so sorry to hear about that Ionia, that’s awful. I will pray for you. I hope you are able to make a full recovery and take it easy while you do. I’ll be thinking of you. πŸ™‚ (Very few typos BTW. πŸ˜‰ ) Oh and thanks for the advice – I’d never really considered that that could happen to a young woman.

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  2. Whoa. That was a very disturbing read. For all the right reasons. It can’t have been easy to write, either (and not just because of the hand). I hope things get better as soon as they can, and this doesn’t affect your life too much. Get well, and keep writing.

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  3. How scary! This is making me seriously rethink my better half’s middle of the night chest and arm pain. Mind you, I’m a “let’s go to the ER” person, even past midnight. She refused. Due to the vigor and clarity of the refusal, I slept with one eye open and let it slide. I think it’s time to set up her stress test, etc. I hope your recovery is steady and strong, and am sending good, healing thoughts from here. Hugs to you, and thank you for sharing!

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    • Thank you so much. I would definitely say that going in “just in case” is better than waiting until there is a serious problem and it’s too late. Take advice from an idiot who now knows:)

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      • You’re not an idiot, at all. So much of the time, we look at the “norm” for health situations. Plus, I do know that panic attacks and heart attacks are said to be VERY similar while they are happening. In a high-stress life, it’s normal to have anxiety or panic attacks. A heart attack at 32 is not the norm. We all go with the odds and statistics when it comes to health – otherwise, we would drive ourselves crazy with every little glitch our bodies experience.

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  4. I do first aid at my workplace and treated both heart attacks and angina, In both cases people often think that it will pass, only to find that it didn’t and it got worse, after which point I treat them just long enough to calm their nerves and off to the hospital by company car, It’s such a scary thing.

    I’m so glad to hear you’re okay though whew! :O

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  5. OMG Ionia. I am so happy you went to the ER. I am so happy you are writing and will be forced to slow down a little. I am so happy I can write and tell you I’m so happy. You are someone who needs to stay around for a long time. Please get well soon. Prayers to you (and for you)

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  6. Wow, Ionia. Your body is really putting you through the wringer, eh? Good thing you’re stubborn and have a good attitude! Thanks for posting this. Mind if I pray for you over here?

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  7. I;d have had you at the hospital with the cold sweats (assuming you don’t get them every night), the chest pressure and .. were your nail beds blue? Your lips?
    You’re so lucky… I wasn’t allowed to take my baby home from the hospital without infant CPR lessons (he has cardiac issues) so yes, age doesn’t matter. Sometimes we don’t know what problems we were born with, since the tests to find out aren’t routine.
    Take care of yourself, Ionia! We need you around here!

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  8. Take care of yourself Ionia, and listen to your body… I have some idea what you are going through and my symptoms were similar to yours for all four of my heart attacks, if you ever need to talk to someone you know how to reach me

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      • if you follow the proper treatment plan there will be no more dropping of shoes for a great many years… trust me you will be able to do most of what you did before, just at a little slower pace… I’ve had the double bypass and then four stents put in and the bottom left portion of my heart is essentially dead and I am still more active than most people my age… which makes diagnosis hard, doctors are always skeptical, even my last heart attack almost two years ago, the original doctor thought it was anxiety again, same with the paramedics, but my doctor came in and ordered the transfer to another City that has proper cardiac facilities and sure enough it was a major infarction… and if you do need surgery, they’ve gotten very good at it, both of my heart surgeries they gave me a 95% chance of survival… so like I said if you ever need to talk, I’m there for you

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  9. When I was 5 my 25 yr old mother had a blood clot in her hip, her brain, and her uterus. She has been on blood thinners ever since, and at the time she spent over a week in the hospital, including having a full hysterectomy. They told us that she wouldn’t live to see 30. She is now 49, though she has lingering problems with her hip the blood thinner has helped keep her around. My Grandpa is also on blood thinner, and it is helping keep him around for us as well.
    I’ll be praying for a swift recovery and that you are able to get it all under control. Do not make light of blood clots and middle-of-the-night dizziness and pain! We want to keep you around!

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  10. Wow Ionia, that must have been one hell of a scare…and though I’m glad the worst is over and you’re being taken care of now, I wish you much grace as your treatment evolves and continues. Isn’t that the second health scare in the last year or so? Take care – and give yourself some serious TLC my friend, mind body and soul. Healthy, Happy hugs and blessings, Harula xxx

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  11. I raced through your post thinking, noβ€”she’s going to say it’s a joke. Then I realized the title said it all. And I also realized what an amazing, incredible human you are. Instead of the whine (to which, baby, you are TOTALLY entitled!), your first thought is to help others avoid the same thing. You humble us all.

    I wish you the speediest recovery possible. There aren’t enough people like you out there, so you don’t get to leave.

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  12. This is so frightening, girl! So glad you are okay.It’s a miracle you didn’t lose consciousness with the first one. Follow your Docs instructions and don’t be afraid of having an angiocath. That should be how they proceed. If you have a blockage or heart damage they should be able to put in stents if the damage is not too great. My BIL had his heart attack on the way into the angiocath room. He really waited far too long to get help and needed a quadruple bypass. I am hoping yours wasn’t that severe. You are in my thoughts and prayers. So scary! And so young. I’m grateful someone was there to call for help. And thanks for getting the word out. Minutes can save lives.

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  13. oh my goodness Ionia! I’m so glad that you’re ok. Being young should keep you from going to the hospital!!! (shame on you) My husband had cancer at 28…it happens. Bad things can happen at any age.
    I hope the damage isn’t so bad that you need surgery! Take care of yourself and let us know from time to time how you’re doing.

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  14. Pingback: Ionia, I love you | readful things blog

  15. Oh god. I am without words or shall i say words that have not already been said. I learned with a loss of a close friend not to ignore any symptoms. Doesn’t matter how improbable or silly or even ‘overreacting’ – it is always better to be safe than sorry. I use the word overreacting because I have heard people say this but how can overreacting be a bad thing when it involves ones life? You have much to do in this life – we are blessed to have you here. So stay put :). xxxxxx

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  16. Oh my God, Ionia! I’m so glad you got to the hospital and you’re doing all right. So sorry to hear what you went through. Take care of yourself. I’m sending prayers your way. πŸ™‚

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  17. Oh my dear! That’s awful. And in the midst of all this, making sure everyone is aware for themselves – you’re so selfless! I hope your recovery is quick and that the outcomes of everything else is as best as it can be xx

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  18. Sorry to hear about your heart attacks. I had a stroke in January. It started when I was asleep as well. That is the scariest part. My symptoms were bizarre enough by the time I managed to wake up that I went to the hospital right away. It’s great that you are telling people to err on the side of caution. I hope you have a speedy recovery. I will continue to pray for you.

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  19. That sounds terrifying – glad you were able to get help before things turned even worse. I hope they let you go home soon! And thanks for sharing – that can’t have been easy, but you’re doing a great service by sharing this – I’m not much younger than you and it’s telling that I haven’t even thought of the possibility.
    Love and thoughts are with you πŸ™‚

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  20. Pingback: Ionia, I love you | Julian Froment's Blog

  21. Scary, scary stuff. And your thought process through it is likely what mine would have been, too (I’m a year older). I certainly know I’ve had enough panic attacks with similar symptoms, and I’m always worried about “overreacting” or being called a hypochondriac. But better to be labeled than to lose my life. I love you and my heart stopped when I read this, but started again when I knew you were okay. *hugs*

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  22. All I could think when CHarles told me was, “is ske okay?!” I can’t imagine what you went through, though I’ve also had panic attacks and similar symptoms. I say better to cause a ruckus and have it be nothing than the reverse. You can survive egg on your face. I’m glad youre feeling better and take good care of yourself. *hugs*

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  23. I’m only ‘liking’ this because you have, as ever, been so generous in an important message. I certainly do not like to hear you have suffered this, or the ongoing consequences of it. All my prayers are with you my friend, take care, you are too precious to be so assaulted by the vagaries of time and health. πŸ™‚ xxx

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  24. How absolutely terrifying for you! I’m blown away at you being right here more concerned about not letting someone else have this happen to them, than about yourself. You are an awesomely amazing soul, and I hope you get to munching and reclining and getting yourself better. You really rock being cool Ionia. Much love to you. X

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  25. I know that I’m late to the news, but “Oh My God!”, please take care of yourself and I hope that you hopeful news from your specialists. Get some rest, relax and a prescription of no stress is in order. Get better and get back to us as soon as you can.

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      • Eh, hanging in there. Back on the weight loss training, eat right, exercising, how boring! But it’s working. It always does. Just working a lot, trying to get down my debt, made the decision to go back to school in January to get a Bachelors Degree in Communication and hopefully find a new career, I just can’t do mine anymore. My heart isn’t in it anymore. But it’s hard to go from the public to private sector when you don’t have a Bachelors Degree in ANYTHING. So back to school I go! I will certainly not be online as much when I go back. 8 week terms and taking 7 or 8 credits per term. I should be done by June 2016.

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      • That is so awesome though! I know what you mean about not being into your job anymore. I went through that before I was doing what I am now. It’s hard to keep feeling motivated when you aren’t really feeling it.

        New diet for me too. Seeing a dietician next week. Worried about my tendency toward reese’s pb cups:)

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