“I just blacked out with no warning.”

Heart Healthcare Story

It’s a day that I will never forget.

I went into work a little late after my wife, and I picked her friend up at the airport. Little did we know she would be spending her entire week’s holiday in the waiting area at the hospital.

My wife dropped me off at work. I was standing in a doorway when I turned to go into my office. That is the last thing I remember until waking up in emergency a couple of hours later. I just blacked out with no warning.

I was later told a colleague started CPR while staff called emergency. The paramedics had a defibrillator with them. The second shock restored my heart rhythm.

They stabilised me and transported me to the nearest emergency. That is where I woke up feeling pain in my left ankle. X-rays showed a fracture just above the ankle from my fall when I passed out. All I could think of was that fracture and the fact I couldn’t play golf for a while.

A day later my surgeon was implanting an internal defibrillator in my chest. It is hard to conceive of such an amazing device, that is so small yet has the power to save a life over and over.

My ICD fired four times in the first year. I remember each date because that is four more times I would have died if not for the technology we now have.

It sure does make every new day just a little bit more special for me.

– Bob, 47

“I didn’t want to worry my family so I didn’t make a fuss.”

Heart Healthcare Story

When people find out I have heart disease, they are often surprised.

I have a very active life. I was an aerobics instructor, I’m involved in yoga, and one of my favorite things to do is jump rope. I always made an effort to eat right and take care of myself.

I do have a family history of heart disease, but I thought because I didn’t look like the type of person who gets heart disease, I was fine. I wanted to avoid the many health problems my mother faced.

As my mother got older, her health began to decline, and I became her caregiver. She has undergone multiple surgeries for her heart disease, but it continues to progress. I became determined to live a different, healthier lifestyle.

I thought I was doing everything right, but as many women do, I put off getting a physical. Too often women tend to everyone else’s needs and ignore their own.

Even with all the exercise and healthy eating, I was leaving out an important step towards truly taking care of myself – seeing my doctor on a regular basis.

I started to find I was tired a lot of the time. I was getting headaches and having neck pain. I brushed all of these aside as symptoms of something else – menopause, previous injuries flaring up, or just stress.

I didn’t want to worry my family so I didn’t make a fuss. I was taking four medications for my headaches and trying to fit in time for weekly massages to deal with the pain I was experiencing. I never thought these could be signs my heart was struggling.

I never make New Year’s resolutions, but last year I decided I would finally get that physical I had been putting off for so long. I’m rarely sick, and it had been so long since I’d seen my doctor, that when I went to book the appointment, she was no longer working at the clinic.

I had to go through the process of finding a new doctor. It was such a hassle I almost gave up several times.

I told myself I was healthy, and there was nothing to worry about. But I’d made this New Year’s resolution so I felt like I should see it through to the end.

When I finally saw a new doctor and had the physical examination, she noticed on my paper work there was a family history of heart disease. She decided to run some additional tests and found some abnormalities.

I told myself it was nothing. I truly believed there was no way anything could be wrong with my heart.

The doctor did an angiogram and saw I had a 90 percent blockage on the left side of my heart and a 20 percent blockage on the other.

So, even though it was something I never saw coming, I’m so glad I invested the time to complete that resolution and to get a check up.

If I had given up, who knows what could have happened or how much time I had left.

– Debbie, 57