My Heart Attack Did Everything It Could to Warn Me

My Heart Attack Did Everything It Could to Warn Me January 24, 2018

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by suez92
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by suez92

I wrote a post for the National Catholic Register discussing my latest medical problems. Here it is.

My heart attack did everything it could to warn me, short of standing up, waving its arms and giving a stadium whistle.

Looking back, with that oh-so-clear 20/20 hindsight, I can see that I had been having symptoms for a long time. Then about six months ago, things really kicked into high gear.

I had no idea that this was my heart, trying to warn me. I just thought… well… truth told, I don’t know what, or if, I thought.

That oh-so-clear 20/20 hindsight looks back and sees me, at the beginning of this journey, going “ugh” or something similar when I got hit with a passing symptom, and then immediately forgetting about it as if it hadn’t happened. My thinking brain didn’t pay attention to the early warning symptoms.

I even had a dream in which a friend of mine who died a few years ago came to me and tried to warn me. I know. That’s a bit touchy-feely for most people. But it was so real. I believed it, and I took it seriously.

I joined Weight Watchers and started working out at a gym. I pushed myself as hard as I could in those workouts. Ironically, that was when the symptoms started getting mean.

I wore a Polar heart monitor, complete with chest strap, while I worked out. Instead of using it to keep my heart rate within a safe range, I used it to track how many calories I was burning.

I learned pretty quickly that if I kept the calorie burn high enough I could eat quite a bit more than the diet allowed and still lose a pound a week. That was what I wanted, to burn those calories, so I could eat more and still lose weight, so I poured it to those workouts.

I also had nagging pains in my jaw and chest, but they weren’t all that bad. They were ignorable.

Now, a smart woman would have gone to the doc. I have friends who told me I needed to go to the doc. But I’ve enjoyed medical care these past two years just about as much as I can stand. I’d rather eat dirt that expose myself to more hospital time.

I decided — even though I knew better — to believe that these symptoms were just a reaction to being overweight and out of shape. Instead of backing off, I doubled down on the exercise, took a day off when I got laid out by one of those sudden flutters, and kept on keeping on. I guess my heart got tired of being ignored, because after a couple of months of this, it did something that nobody could ignore.

I’m giving you all the gory details because I want you to know what these things feel like. I’m hoping you won’t be as foolish as I was. It turns out I was lucky. But I could easily have died. (Read the rest here.)

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11 responses to “My Heart Attack Did Everything It Could to Warn Me”

  1. I think you are trying to tell us something. If only I could figure out what you are getting at!

  2. OMG, Rebecca—-what a completely scary and profound experience! I’m so very, very happy you survived this and are now in a program to help you rehab. Know that I will keep you in my thoughts as you go through this 2nd huge situation in your life. You’re a strong woman—-Take care and keep us informed when you can. REST!!

  3. Oh dear me. This was certainly a warning for us all. You definitely were showing all the signs of heart issues. I know it’s not a pleasant experience to go under doctors, but never ignore heart symptoms. My father suffered from heart disease, including severe heart attacks, so I’ve lived it. As I said on the NCR comment, the one positive is you never lost consciousness, and so hopefully that means blood was flowing the whole time, and the heart muscle was not damaged. But I’m no doctor. I’m praying for your full recovering.

  4. Thank you, Manny. As I understand it, if the artery had completely shut off, I would have died. It certainly would have stopped my heart altogether. Evidently, the heart cannot work without this artery, not even for a very short time.

    I need prayers, going forward with this. Even with meds, care and rehab, I’m still having problems.

  5. Rebecca, Rebecca, Rebecca!

    Here I thought I was the most medically resistant human on earth. Lady, you have me beat by a mile.

    That heaviness in your chest means call 911. Those pains in your jaw and arms mean call 911. Any “funny feeling” anywhere in your body mrans… wait for it… call 911.


  6. Just now reading this. Sorry for your continuing health struggles and prayers for continued healing. I’ve learned there’s a lower optimum workout heart rate that is better for fat burning and I guess the heart. Take Care!

  7. Thanks Peggy! Cardiac rehab has been helpful — very! — but it’s also triggered a few “events.” That’s good in the long run, since they see it in real time and that helps them figure it out. They’ve adjusted meds, what I do, etc. It seems to be helping. I need prayer, if you can spare one.