Post Heart Attack Stun

By far, one of my most popular posts from the old blog was this one.  Post Heart Attack Stun.  Still today, stun comes and goes!  Here is the original post:

Post heart attack stun is what I call the period following the heart attack where everything seems so surreal and you really don’t absorb what has happened.

Once I was out of the cath lab, they wheeled me up to the ICU.  There was lots of talking from the doctors and the nurses. I really didn’t absorb much of it.  Quite honestly, I could hardly believe I’d had a heart attack.  I most certainly could not absorb the seriousness of the situation.  It was much like I would envision an out of body experience.  It was hard to absorb any of it because I knew I’d had a heart attack yet, I didn’t feel like it.  The symptoms I had experienced were nothing like what I thought a heart attack would be.  I never lost consciousness…hell, they didn’t give me anything more than Valium and Versed during my surgery.  I watched it all on the flat screens.  To me, this is not the picture of a massive heart attack.

I know my friends and family had a hard time absorbing it too.  On that Thursday after my husband, ex-husband and kids left and I was alone in the room, it was probably 10:00pm.  I called my friend Deb and this is how our conversation goes:


Deb:  “Hey, what are you up to?”

Me:   “I just had a heart attack.”

Deb:  “Over what?”

Me:  “Seriously, I just had a heart attack and I just got out of the cath lab. I’m      

           in the ICU.”

Deb:  Stunned silence.

This is how most of my conversations went immediately following the heart attack. I was 42 and so are most of them.  I can picture just what they were feeling.  Jodi is 42, so am I.  That is too young.  That is what I thought too.

As the sun came up Friday morning, I had a steady stream of docs, nurses, counselors, and cardiac rehab folks in and out of my room.  Each one telling me I was very lucky and I had done everything right.  At this point, I still have no idea of the seriousness of the heart attack I had suffered.  No one used the term “widow-maker”.  Even if they had used that term, I wouldn’t have understood.  Friday night, they moved me out of the ICU and into a regular room.  I got to go home on Saturday and refused all pain and anxiety meds when I went home.

By Tuesday, I made an appointment with my family doctor because I desperately needed the pain meds.  The femoral artery incision site and all of the surrounding bruising turned out to be very, very painful. He has access to the hospital records but didn’t realize I’d had a heart attack.  When he looked at the records, he said, “Oh boy, you survived the widow-maker.  Did you know only 20% of women survive it?”  This was my first indication that I could actually absorb of what had really happened.  He spent much more time with me than I know he had scheduled and I will forever appreciate it.  We went back over all of my test results from my physical that I had just had about 7 weeks prior to the heart attack.  He was just as surprised as me.

What really brought me out of the post heart attack stun and into a change mode was a show I watched in November.  I watched CNN’s “The Last Heart Attack.”  What I watched there truly frightened me.  It was then that I started researching everything that had happened to me.  I was mostly frightened by the things I came across.  I made the decision to drastically alter my lifestyle and go plant based on January 1, 2012.(No need to set myself up to fail over the holidays.)

Once I was able to emerge from the stun, I was able to take control of my life and make the decision not to let this happen to me again.  It has been very liberating.  As of today, the scale is down 30 lbs and I weigh exactly what I did the day I got married almost four years ago.  I have 23 more pounds and will have hit the goal weight of being in a healthy BMI for my height.  The skinny bitch is in sight!

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