I'm sharing my story because as many of you have shared heart disease in women is often misdiagnosed resulting in devastating consequences. I'm sharing my story because I strongly believe my job as an ICU nurse saved my life but even my "event" was almost missed!
On March 24, 2010 I awoke feeling more tired than I'd ever been in my entire life. I'd just turned 40 11 days prior but felt 90. I had been short of breath for several months with minimal activity (I am a former college volleyball player, triathlete, soccer player). I thought i was just out of shape. I'd also had episodes of chest pain i thought were heartburn off and on for a week or two until that fateful day.
I had to go to work as it was too late to call in sick so I dragged my butt to work. I'm the assistant nurse manager in a very busy ICU in a large Veteran's hospital. At approx. 9:30 am my chest pain started again and, thinking it was heartburn I had a cup of coffee and a pop tart (typical ICU nurse). It progressed for the next hour and a half and I tried ignoring it and going about my job. I was in charge that day and we were completely full with just a code bed open. At 11 am I finally told a co-worker how I was feeling and she checked my pulse and had me go lay down in the code bed while she checked my vitals and did an EKG. Before I knew it I was surrounded by 3 RNs and a couple of our ICU doctors. They were scratching their heads as none of this was making sense, a previously fit, healthy 40 year old nurse having chest pain, nausea, and sweating. One started an IV on me, they gave me an aspirin, a beta blocker, and a nitro tablet. The nitro helped but the pain came back a few minutes later. They did another 12 lead and called our cardiologist (a woman) and she immediately came to see me. I've been friends with her for years and she used to live down the street from me and here I was laying in bed with her holding my hand telling me this was my heart and I needed an angiogram stat!
I was crying and began vomiting and thought I was going to die. I was having short runs of V-tach and PVCs and truly thought it was game over. I was rushed to the cath lab where they found I had an extremely rare coronary artery anomaly (anomalous right coronary artery originating off my left main). Technically I only have one coronary artery feeding my whole heart instead of two! The next thing I know is our surgeon (and another doc whom I've worked with for 15 years) is consenting me for bypass surgery and telling me I'm a miracle and I should have never survived college sports or childbirth with this anomaly!
I was in surgery the next morning for a CABG x 1 and have gone on to make a full recovery although I still suffer from Prinzmetal's angina (coronary vasospasm).
s/p CABG x 1 (3/25/10)
Live life to the fullest, you never know when you'll be knockin on Heaven's door!
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