I was 37 years old when I had my heart attack. I actually thought I had a severe chest cold, never imagined it was a true heart attack. Luckily for me, even after waiting two weeks to go to the Dr. I survived this nightmare with no damage to my heart, but heart muscle tissue damage.
I must tell you some of the symptoms occurred during these two weeks and maybe even longer for some (constant heartburn, and feeling like I needed to have my back cracked). I had constant heartburn and what felt like a knot under my left breast, closer to my heart, which is more centered in the body. I was unable to lay on my back when I slept. I would have trouble relaxing, extreme irritation and an overwhelming sense of doom if I didn’t move to my side or my stomach while trying to sleep. Even when I laid back on the couch, I found it was uncomfortable so I would stand to watch a television show.
Walking up and down the stairs left me panting and I would literally have to sit at the bottom step to catch my breath. Attempting to shovel the snow one early evening lasted about two minutes when the cold and wind pierced through my chest like an agonizing earache. Often times I would feel like I needed my back cracked, the pressure released, to get the elephant off my chest and the ice cream headache back in my head and out of my chest.
After the heart attack I have come accustomed to taking pills on a regular basis to help regulate the sky high levels of my insides. The high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high triglycerides have all returned to normal levels.
I make a conscious decision to walk whenever I can, although when my heart starts to pitter-patter from exertion, I become very aware of my heart attack all over again. I have to always remember to not over do it, that I should be able to maintain a normal conversation with someone while walking or exercising.
I never used to pay attention to what foods I ate or the amount on my plate. Now I look at every thing on the package making sure that I’m not gorging myself until I’m ready to pop out a “food baby” and fall asleep—-well…unless it’s Thanksgiving.
Drinking alcohol or swallowing a pill for pain is something I used to take for granted too. Now I have to pay attention to the ingredients in medicines so they don’t have a bad interaction with my current prescriptions or a simple pain pill.
Studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption helps protect against heart disease by raising HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing plaque accumulations in your arteries. Also it may have a mild anti-coagulating effect, keeping platelets from clumping together to form clots. BUT…drinking more than three drinks a day has a direct toxic effect on the heart. Heavy drinking over time can lead to high blood pressure, damage to the heart, enlarged or weakened heart, congestive heart failure, and stroke. So much for weekend “binge drinking.”
Lastly, the dreaded smoking that has been my friend and foe for the last 28 years is still in my life. I left the hospital with a patch on but soon removed it and started smoking less than 10 cigarettes a day. That lasted for about 6 months. It’s been a roller coaster ride with cigarettes, fully aware of the effects, but unwilling to say good bye for good. On the other hand I’m saying good bye to another heart attack for good.