There is no other way to say it than to just say it. In the early hours of March 7, 2016 I had a heart attack. I'm fine. Honestly. Because I knew the early warning signs, which are very different in women, I got to the hospital in plenty of time to avoid permanent damage to my heart.
I won't go into all the gory details, just suffice it to say that the monstrous heart burn and jaw pain were enough early warning to have me concerned. The nausea and lightheadedness that followed sealed the deal.
The five minute drive to the hospital gave me just enough time to consider my mortality and be grateful for matching (and clean) underwear (not that anyone besides me noticed). Just mention chest pain and you won't be wearing much very quickly.
The first blood test was inconclusive, the second blood test changed all that, and the third blood test had me bundled off to the cath lab for some quality time with a balloon and a stent to repair a completely blocked right artery.
Within 36 hours my blood enzyme levels had returned to normal levels and I was sent home to start my new life as a heart attack survivor. Because we got there so early in the attack I have nearly no damage to my heart. It's funny, on one hand I don't feel any different at all. I'm still me, and yet everything has changed. I'm shopping for stylish medical alert bracelets and nitro pill holders.
The hardest part was telling my family. To be honest, I felt pretty ashamed, certain that I had brought this on myself. The marvelous cardiac care nurses assured me that being embarrassed was a waste of good energy. I don't have any underlying conditions, despite being overweight, my blood pressure and cholesterol are just fine. Let's face it: my sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. If just one woman's heart is also spared because of what happened to me then I've done my job.
I made sure to call my sons myself. I didn't want them to have even a moment's panic while Kent got from "Mom had a heart attack" to "but she's okay". I figured if they heard my voice they would already be reassured. My youngest son assured me that I couldn't die, I didn't have the most fabric yet. (Yeah, he's a keeper.)
I'll be on special meds for at least a year while my body gets comfortable with the stent. It will take a little while to get all of my energy back and to get past that feeling of fragility that comes when a crucial body part misbehaves.
It seems that having such a great outcome means there must be something left for me to do in this world, hopefully still a long way off. What ever it might be, I'm already back to putting the finishing touches on A Fine Romance. I think I can be forgiven for missing the Tuesday deadline for basting the thing. I was in the hospital with a heart attack after all. (I plan to claim "heart attack" now anytime I feel the need to princess out, I'm going to milk it for all its worth.)
If you're a woman, or love a woman, please make sure you understand what a heart attack looks like so you can have the same great outcome as I have. Just google it and read several articles. It might just save your life too.