Thursday, February 5, 2009

Five Year Anniversary - Lots To Celebrate!

Five years ago today, February 5, I quit smoking. I also had a heart attack, and that was the reason I quit smoking. The smoking was one of the main contributors to my heart attack; stress and a lousy diet were other contributing factors. A vicious circle to say the least.

The day started out as any other; got up, showered, went to work. Came home from work and hubby suggested we go out to dinner. I thought it was a good idea, but by the time he got home from work, I wasn't feeling well and decided to stay home. Nothing unusual happened, just sat around and relaxed, took a nice long bubble bath and got ready for bed.

I was laying in bed, about 9pm, when I started to have what I thought was a hot flash. Usually they would come and go and a cool cloth on my chest would help it ease up, but this one didn't go away. In fact, it started feeling like someone was dragging molten hot barbed wire across my chest. When they say a woman has different symptoms than a man during a heart attack, they aren't kidding. I didn't have the numbness in my arm, or the pain in my shoulder, jaw or anything else that is considered a common symptom of a heart attack. I had a burning sensation in my chest, and an upset stomach. Then the headache started. OH MY GOD!!! Excruciating, crushing headache, like none I've ever experienced before. By the time the paramedics arrived, my head felt like it would explode, but the burning in my chest had subsided, or maybe I just didn't notice it anymore because of the headache. They put me on oxygen, slipped a nitro under my tongue and rushed me to the hospital.

There, they hooked me up for an EKG, drew some blood, and told me that I had had a heart attack and would require more tests to see how severe and what damage, if any, had been done to my heart. I was admitted to the cardiac unit upstairs, hooked up to a telemetry unit and confined to bed. My husband was there as was my mom and my son, and I finally convinced them that they should go home and rest. Of course I didn't get any rest; every five or ten minutes someone came in to get answers, blood, urine, blood pressure, glucose levels, EKG readings, you name it, I gave it. By the end of the first day they had blown just about every vein in both my arms, and the only way to get blood from me was to dig. OUCH! Finally they put one of those central lines in me so I didn't have to get poked everytime they wanted to draw something, or inject something.
As it turned out, I had an 80% blockage in the left main coronary artery where it meets the aorta. There was another smaller blockage a little further down the artery.
I required a double bypass instead of stents because the placement of the stents couldn't be performed due to the location of the blockage.
Surgery was on February 11, and I was home on February 15.
Strange as it may sound, February 5, 2004 was also a Thursday, just like it is this year.
I'm doing good, haven't had a cigarette since then. Still have some weight to lose, also found out 2 years ago that I have Type 2 Diabetes. I have to take medication daily for blood pressure, Diabetes, and acid reflux disease, but it's better than the alternative.
Women suffer more heart attacks and have a higher risk for heart disease than most men, and the symptoms in women are so different from the ones that men experience, that more women's heart disease goes undetected until it's too late. I was one of the lucky ones.


  1. WE are the lucky ones... because we still have YOU! Im so glad you're here!

  2. Thanks Tammy! I'm glad I'm here because I wouldn't know you and our other sisters if I wasn't.

  3. Wow! Karen, I knew you had a heart attack, but I didn't know you had double bypass surgery. Thank God you were smart and called for help. And thank God you are here for us to love and enjoy! You have made me think today, how what goes on inside is not always perceived until it is a crisis. Thank you for this wake up call.
    Love you, Laurie

  4. I'm happy to still be here also. And happy that I've gotten to know you all.
    Thanks for reading and thanks for your kind words.