The Big One

On May 2, 2019, I suffered a heart attack. The big one. The one known as “The Widow Maker”. A life changing event that I had no idea was coming. The doctor tells me I did everything right that day. That’s why I’m here and that’s why there was minimal damage done to my heart. I was lucky and I’m so blessed. I’m so glad I had my wits about me that day. There were a few warning signs, I realize now that I look back. For a few weeks prior, I had been experiencing pain in my throat when climbing stairs or when anxiety set in. Nothing too terrible and it never occurred to me it would be connected to my heart because the pain was closer to my throat, not my chest. Well, I know now that I was wrong.

The day of my heart attack, I was working. A cook by trade, I was doing what I normally did on any given Thursday, cooking meals for my 15 residents. It wasn’t until I was serving my last few dinner plates that the pain set in. The pain in my throat started first. Then I noticed some jaw pain setting in. Not bad, but noticeable. By the time I served my last plate, pain had started in both arms. I calmly walked to the bathroom to cool off and catch my breath. Once inside however, my breathing only got worse. The pain in my jaws and arms had also increased dramatically. Scared, I quickly exited the bathroom, grabbed my purse and the phone, then immediately dialed 911.

The ambulance arrived within five minutes, which was a blessing because they are located just across the street from where I work. Even though I was in a tremendous amount of pain, I was trying to convince myself I was only having a panic attack. I even told the paramedics that I was feeling a bit better. Something was still urging me to get on that stretcher and let them load me into that ambulance. I went with my gut feeling.

Once inside, the paramedics gave me baby aspirin to chew on, nitroglycerin for under my tongue, hooked me up to machines, gave me oxygen, and within minutes told me I was not going to our local hospital, but a hospital that specializes in heart conditions, located about an hour away. I tried to relax and take comfort knowing I was in good hands. It worked for a few minutes until they turned on the sirens and we went bouncing towards Nashville. A very rough ride but one I’m thankful I got to experience and talk about today. I need to find out the names of those two paramedics because they were so good to me and really cared.

Once inside the emergency room, everything happened so quick. The nurse even told me things would be super speedy, but if I had any questions, please ask. I stripped, got on the table, heard one nurse say to the other “crash cart”, and was immediately wheeled out of that room, down a few hallways, and into an elevator I think. Suddenly, I was in an operating room of sorts. Still not sure what they called it. It was dim, cool, and looked like a theater. I will be forever grateful for the lively mood the nurses and doctor were in that day. They made me laugh during the scariest moment of my life. The doctor introduced himself, quickly told me he was going to clean out my “widow maker” and insert a stent. He looked at my wrist, said it was good to go and went to work. After about five to ten minutes, he said he was done and told me he was going to remove the catheter in my arm and that I needed to be prepared because it was really going to hurt. He counted to three, and I waited for the excruciating pain to come. He laughed and I realized there was no pain. Laughing, I thanked the man that saved my life, Dr. Andrew Goodman, even though I couldn’t see his face because I’m assuming the movie was about to start.

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