Rose Madrid-Swetman

— Random Thoughts, Stories of Life, and Questions about the Journey —


June 3, 2016

Heart Attack – What?

Category: All Posts,Stories of Life – Rose – 4:00 pm

“I don’t think you ever had bronchitis, I think you had a heart attack.” Everything the cardiologist said after that pretty much sounded like, “blah, blah, blah.” I was in shock. It was Monday, April 4th. I had a heart attack on Friday, February 19th. Later every doctor and nurse that talked with me always ended with, “You are very lucky to still be with us.”

On Thursday night February 18th I woke up in the night with coughing fits. Dry coughing fits that woke me several times. The next morning I went to a seminar I was attending at The Seattle School. I was not feeling well and getting worse as the day went on. At dinnertime, we were walking up a hill. I walked a half of block and was out of breath and couldn’t go on. I went to dinner and then home. That night as I went to bed, laying down I could hear myself wheezing so loud I sounded like a coffee pot percolating. I was coughing and at one point felt tightening in my chest. I felt the same tightening I had become accustomed to over the past year. I thought it was anxiety. I tend to carry anxiety in my chest. All I remember was it was a horrible night. I could not lay flat, I could not sleep and I was coughing all night. I stayed home on Friday thinking I must have the flu or something. I went to the doctor on Monday the 22nd. The doctor spent about five minutes with me and diagnosed me with acute bronchitis. He prescribed antibiotics and told me that acute bronchitis takes a long time to get over.

March 1st I had new insurance and had to see a different doctor. I went in to follow up because I was not getting better and I was leaving March 18th for ten days on a trip to Thailand. On March 4th I saw my new doctor. She worked off of the diagnosis of acute bronchitis, listened to my lungs, etc. and prescribed inhalers to help me breathe.
The day I was leaving for Thailand, March 18th, I called my doctor and told her my breathing was getting worse. I wondered if she could prescribe antibiotics for my trip in case it kept getting worse. She had me come in for a chest x-ray to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia. Her assistant called me late in the afternoon and told me I was clear of having pneumonia but the x-ray showed my heart was enlarged compared to a test I had seventeen months prior. She wanted me to follow up as soon as I got back from Thailand.

I went to Thailand hoping the sun and rest would help clear up the bronchitis. My breathing got worse every day. I would have shortness of breath just walking a few feet.
I got home on Easter Sunday evening – called my doctor on Monday went in for an exam and she ordered more tests. The labs came back and said something was going on which then led to the echocardiogram on Monday, April 4th and the result being I had a heart attack, I never had bronchitis. The cardiologist that read the report said my heart was at 15% capacity meaning when pumping the release was only 15% – normal is 55-60%.
I was admitted to the hospital and basically told, “a) You are lucky you survived the heart attack and, b) You are lucky you survived traveling to Thailand and back, you are lucky to be alive.”
They immediately gave me meds to drain the fluids that had built up (I was literally drowning) and within five hours I lost six pounds of fluid. The next morning, I had another echocardiogram and it showed my heart at 20%.
On Friday, the 8th I had surgery to insert a defibrillator and a pacemaker. I did not need bypass surgery as the original blockage had healed itself. The damage was around how my heart was pumping and the rhythms. The doctors have said that this is all they can do for me. That we will know in a few weeks, months if I am improving, staying the same or getting worse.

I have been home a couple of days and I think it is really just dawning on me how serious this is and how my life has been spared. I am praying, reflecting and thinking about those words I heard over and over again over the past week, “You are lucky to be alive.”

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