Just 3 months before my heart attacks I ran a half marathon. I lost 30 lbs. I flipped my dog in yoga. But here I am recovering from 2 heart attacks at age 31.
I had been abnormally tired for weeks. In fact, so tired that I tried to do an early morning run and fell, hurting my knee. In the process of nursing my knee back to health I also noticed that I developed a cyst on the back of my head. I stopped running, even slept 12 hours a night and nothing seemed to make a difference. Finally I was so frustrated with the fatigue that I broke down in the first 5 minutes of a run that I told myself I could do.
I brought myself to an urgent care who ordered blood work and gave me a neurological consult and sent me home. That afternoon the chest pains began. I had a Sex and the City flashback to when Miranda said she was going to die alone and the cat would eat her face off, so I brought myself to another urgent care that night who gave me a mono test and an EKG. Since both came back fine, I was sent home again.
The pain continued in waves for the next 2 days. I went to my job as a teacher, and went home to go back to sleep. The 4th day I was feeling slightly better until the drive home. Suddenly the pain was worse than before. Thinking it wasn’t a heart attack, I walked the dog and drove myself to the ER. They did an EKG and a chest x-ray, saying I wasn’t having a heart attack. It wasn’t until my Troponin levels came back that anything was suspected. That night in the hospital I had a massive nose bleed and an abnormal EKG, prompting the cardiologist to do a cardiac catheterization.
I will never forget the moment they found the blockage – silence in the room. Then, “she’s only 31,” “she’s a runner,” & “she has no risk factors.” Not only did I have a heart attack, I had 2 and it was due to a 99% blockage in my LAD, aka the Widowmaker. I feel so incredibly lucky. I hope anyone reading this realizes that you don’t have to have any of the risk factors to go through this, but that a good lifestyle might mean the difference between life and death. I want to spread this message to my students, parents, co-workers, family and friends. Trust your instincts, follow your heart, have hope for the future.