A Change of Events

So a few months ago, I had a little bit of a life changing event. My life ceased to exist as I had once known it to be and everything changed and I do mean everything. I had been having chest pains but being the 'supermom' that I often acted like, I overlooked the pains for many months, just putting it to the fact that I did over do things from time to time and that I am over weight. I do not look it most of the time, but I am a good bit. Being that was so, I figured, walking up and down hills and up and down our stairs on a normal basis and only having pain every once in a while was ok. WRONG. But then the pains became more frequent and I could hardly breathe and would have to sit down and let the pain ease up and go away. Not normal of course but I was still putting off going to the doctor. Till one week, when the kids had been hounding me over and over about going to see the doc, I had had many, multiple pains, several days in a row for nearly a week. It was making it where it was interrupting my normal every day life and that was not ok.

So, grudgingly I went to the doctor, actually the free clinic, and they were highly worried. Of course I had been putting off going to see the doctor because we have a family history of heart problems. My dad had to have two triple bypasses and passed away when he was just 58 years old. My uncle, his brother, had to have bypass surgery as well and died in the recovery room. My grandmother (his mom) died of complication with her heart or a heart attack or stroke when she was in her 60's. So, of course, I was a wee bit (well hell, a LOT) nervous about going to see the doctor and low and behold, I had a real reason to be. I just knew something would be going on, I just didn't know what, but I listened to my children, went to the doctor and from there, everything happened like a whirlwind.

The doctor at the clinic said she wanted me to have a heart catheter done to see if I had any blockages. She pushed the issue till I was able to get in through a doctor that was recommended from the clinic. He agreed right off the bat and a two weeks later on September 1st, 2011, I went in to the Lewis Gale Medical Center to have the Heart Catheter done. I don't remember most of the testing that was done, even though I was supposed to be able to be awake and remember. What I do remember, very vividly, is coming out, wide awake, waiting on the doctor to come speak to us so I could get dressed and go home and what he said to us. He immediately said, you have a blockage that is a 99% blocked artery and I suggest you get it taken care of as soon as possible. In fact, there is a cardiac surgeon there on the floor whom he would recommend to have the surgery done by. With in minutes the other doctor shows up, is looking at my chart and is like ok, this is what needs to be done, do you want to do it? We asked if it was really serious and needed to be done and he was like yes, absolutely. So there you have it, I was getting scheduled for bypass surgery the next morning. Just like that, my life was being changed in an instant.

I don't remember a lot about the night before, except I ate a sub from subway and the next morning my hubby told me that I was joking and carrying on like everything was going to be ok. Little did I know how very much this surgery was going to change our lives. I had already stopped smoking a few weeks before to help with the healing process but so much more was going to have to change and bless my family, they have been right here with me, helping out, making sure that I get to live a little bit longer, thanks to these changes.

My hospital stay was fuzzy on the most part, except the last day or so. I was on morphine most of the time because of the pain but my husband demanded I be took off of it and put on another pain medication because it was knocking me out and I would never end up leaving the hospital if they didn't change it. It worked. The meds they gave me helped to manage my pain levels but I was awake enough to be able to finally get up out of bed and start walking. I had to be able to walk, a good bit and have all of my tubes and wires taken off of me by the doctors before I could leave. I felt so much better off of the morphine; its amazing how much of a difference the different pain medications have on a person.

Once home, my family babied me for a good long time. I could not sleep on the couch at all like I was used to. I had to sleep in a recliner and even then I did not sleep well. I would sleep for an hour or two and then wake up during the night and I slept a lot during the day too. They cleaned the house from top to bottom, from the first day I got home till I was about 2 months into healing or more, maybe 3. They cooked, cleaned AND smoked OUTSIDE ONLY. Which has been a big change for them but it is for ME; for my health and it amazes me that anyone can love someone as much as they love me, to do such a thing. To be cold, freeze, in the rain and bad weather, to go outside to do their smoking, instead of still doing it in the house, to protect me. They are an AMAZING family!!

We had to change the way we eat too. Oh now that has been hard, really hard but we are making it. You would be surprised in how much sodium is in any given food, other than the natural foods, like fresh veggies and fruits. Anything that is pre-packaged, carries a LOT of sodium on the most part. Things are getting better and technology is making it where foods can be made without little or no sodium in them, and still taste good; which is a true shocker to me. Going on a low sodium diet, is hard. I was told to try to stick at 1500mg of sodium a day and no more than 22-2300 a day on my 'cheat' days. That on occasion I can go out to eat, but not to make it and every day habit and don't make it something I did a LOT (like multiple times a week). So we eat a lot of chicken and we bought a new convection oven that cooks quicker and healthier than our regular stove/oven. We use a lot of Mrs. Dash products and we only drink decaf tea and coffee. In fact my husband has noticed a big difference in his heartburn since we have went to decaf only. We eat more fresh veggies or frozen, very few canned foods unless we have to and very little foods like mac-n-cheese or stuffing, etc. Oh and one of our favorite staple foods was oodles of noodles and canned soups, which are most definitely out of the question on the most part with the amount of sodium that they contain.

So, no smoking, eating healthier and a new life on my heart. You would think that life is getting better right? Ehhh, it was, for a while, to a point. I was actually able to start working out ten minutes a day on my elliptical and then I started feeling poorly again. I would get very winded when walking to the mail box again and when working out it was just too much to make the workouts effective with as much slowing down I had to do. I have started getting exhausted again; tired from just standing and doing dishes or sitting here at the computer, which I am doing now, eyes getting heavy, feeling sleepy. Going to have to get up soon so I gotta get this finished. So yeah, cooking and doing dishes and doing laundry and even my job sitting here at my desk, are tiring and at times, causing extreme exhaustion. We don't know what is causing it yet but I am scheduled for a stress test tomorrow and hopefully, it will show something about what is going on, although I am not looking forward to my heart beating out of my chest, thumping and carrying on, ready to jump right out. I will most definitely keep my nitro handy for tomorrow and even though I have never had to use it, I can only imagine I may tomorrow if they don't watch how much they incline that treadmill they want to put me on.

At one time, I never thought not twice about eating donuts, about eating spaghetti (which was a favorite meal for us) or about if I would survive to 50 or not. I have been married for 25 years. My children are 21 and 23 and my grand baby is 3. I have had a very good life so far and if, for any reason I would have to go, if my time came up, well, even though I know hearts would be broken here on earth, I know that my life would go on and that I have had a good life, enough to pass on those thoughts and feelings and life experience to make my life worthwhile. I have passed on experience and memories to my own children and lived over half of my life with the man whom i love more than breathing itself. If I had a choice, I will live as long as I can, with my hubby and my family nearby; loving them all for loving me as much as they do now and as much as they always have been. You just never know how much people mean to you, how much your life means to you, how much life in general means, until you may not live a few more days, without surgery. Oh and by the way, my hubby had went to one of the local restaurants to get him and my daughter and her fiance something to eat one day while I was in the hospital. He was telling the person there about what had been going on and what the doctors had told him about my surgery and the clerk just looked at him and went "wow!"..."your wife just survived the widow maker". He went on to tell my hubby about how either him or one of his friends had went through the same type of experience and almost lost their loved one too. The artery I had that was 99% blocked was considered a 'widow maker'. From this article, it better explains about the Widow Maker.

" The LAD coronary artery usually supplies a very large part of the heart muscle, so narrowings in this artery are especially worrisome. Indeed, a narrowing in the first part of the LAD is commonly referred to as “the widow maker.” About the Widow Maker

and from here is more information on the 'widow maker': Wikipedia About the Widow Maker

If you get a chance to do so, check out those links and also if you want to learn more, you can look up 'the heart "widow maker" ' and you can find more information out about what it is and how rare it is to happen to a 42 year old woman who was in fairly decent health, based on at least 50% of all americans and how they eat, exercise and live their daily lives. Little did I know, my family history was going against me and at my young chipper age, I was taken down a few steps/notches and am having to learn how to live differently, in all type/kinds of ways. It will continually be a work in progress and I Look forward to sharing it all with you. :-)

Till we meet again :-)