There is a difference between a Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack

Before I had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest I had no idea that it was or what it meant.  I found out the hard way and feel this need to educate people about it.  So many times the media interchanges these two terms when it comes to articles they write about people and heart events.  I also find family and friends at large don’t know the difference either.

 

For the difference between a cardiac arrest and heart attack, click here.  In my case, my heart is healthy with no abnormalities, no blocked arteries or structural defects.

 

Sometimes a Sudden Cardiac Arrest happens because of an Inherited Arrhythmia, to read about it, click here.  In my case, there is no known cause, there is a slim possibility it is inherited, but DNA testing would need to be done. I have no family history.

 

I have learned more about the heart in the last two years than I ever thought I would, at times when speaking about my heart health I have been asked if I am a nurse.  I have always been one to research and educate myself about things, especially when it comes to my health, I am in no way an expert but it helps me to know and to be able to speak intelligently about it.  My ignorance was such that I had no idea that anyone under the age of 75 could have a device that zapped them back to the land of the living only to find out that there are babies currently living with these devices because they have inherited an arrhythmia.  I tell you, whenever I feel sorry for myself for having to deal with this at my age, I think of the young ones out there who have just started their lives and how it will impact them.

 

My arrhythmia has been diagnosed as Idiopathic, so it has been difficult to treat.  Many of the drugs used to treat my condition haven’t worked in my case, to learn more about those drugs, click here.

 

I don’t have many options left and will be seeing a Heart Transplant doctor in near future to see if I am a candidate.  I have a long list of questions to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m getting bettah…

I am not sure I will ever get used to the fact that I need to have a piece of metal in my chest to help keep me safe and alive.  It’s is still very bizarre to me.

 

It’s been over 2 years since the ICD was implanted into my chest, at times it amazes me with the whole “wonder of modern medicine” thing and at times it depresses the living hell out of me, my life changed forever with the events of January 23, 2012, and I don’t like it one bit.  Mind you, the journey I have been on since that date has been one with lots of terrible lows and not so many highs.  I have dealt with so much.  The physical recovery from the event took a very long time but recovery from the mental aspect has taken much longer and I still very actively deal with it to this day.  I have had to mourn the loss of the life I had before this along with depression and anxiety and PTSD.  I have had to drive myself nuts trying to figure out my life purpose, after all, I came back from the dead, there MUST be a reason.  Then of course, all the woulda, shoulda, couldas, could I have prevented this from happening if I had only made some changes along the way.  There were also really dark times, the times when I wanted to just die and get it all over with, not that I really wanted to leave this earth but I figured it was a lot less painful than what I was having to go through.  I obsessed over dying, I was so afraid that I would be forgotten, that my family and friends would just pick up and carry on without me.  Then I would remember all the times that I thought of loved ones who have left  and I would realize that they go on because I think of them and the interactions I have had with them in my life.  It was with this realization that I decided that I needed to change the kind of person I felt I was, I wanted people to have warm and fuzzy thoughts about me.  I wanted them to know how I felt about them, how much they meant to me in my life, I wanted them to know that I had a happy life and that the love and support they gave me made a difference.  For someone who could hold a grudge for a very long time, this was a whole new way of life for me.  I decided to forgive myself and others for wrongs both real and imagined, and I decided to love myself and to stop the cycle of negative thoughts that reside in my head.  I started being grateful every day for the good things in my life instead of focusing on the bad, I took up meditation and walks in nature and slowly but surely I felt a shift.  I started reading about energy and raising my vibration and healing gemstones and I started accupuncture treatments and I joined a group where we discuss spirituality in a non religious way.  Today, I am a different person, I feel like all of the hard spots that have built up over the years have softened, all I need to do is keep working.

 

I still have challenges, it’s a constant dance of two steps forward, one step back but the steps back aren’t quite as far as they used to be.   I have family and friends and a group of medical professionals who are helping get life back on track  There are times when I get frustrated because I don’t think I am making the progress I should but then I have a day when I realize how very far I have come.  The heart issues are very much interconnected with my mental health, they feed off each other in a circular motion, but I have come to realize that as corny as it sounds, one day at a time.

 

A  friend once described me as cloudy with sunny breaks, today Douglas and I had a conversation about this and he thinks that a more apt description of me these days is sunny with cloudy breaks…now that’s progress and I will take it.

 

“IT” strikes again….

After 14 months of stability, my heart went into V-Fib and I passed out cold on the floor in our kitchen on June 3.  It’s always so confusing coming out of unconsciousness and coming to the realization of what has happened.  The first word out of mouth this particular day was FUCK!  It happened so fast and so randomly. 

 

I was cooking breakfast, it was a Tuesday morning and I felt to the bone tired when I rolled out of bed at 9 a.m.  I kept complaining to my husband that I wanted to go back to bed and get more sleep but I had a pottery class  that I really wanted to attend so I got going with my day.  I was up and down several times to check on the food on the stove and was at the point where I was ready to start putting it in the bowl.  I grabbed the oatmeal, separated it into two bowls then I turned around to grab the cinnamon apples from the stove when I felt my heart turn into a jiggly mass of jelly.  I let Douglas know I was in distress and at this point, I knew I didn’t have enough time to make it somewhere safe to sit down, so I did what my husband and I have always talked about, I started to get down on the floor.  About halfway down, everything faded to black, the next thing I knew, Douglas was standing over me calling my name, I was perched precariously against the cupboards and confused as hell.  We weren’t sure if I was shocked or not, it felt like I had been, my upper left chest and armpit felt like the muscles had been zapped and it took Douglas a couple of seconds to get into the kitchen so he thought he had missed it, he called 911.

 

I stayed on the floor in the kitchen because it was easier, I didn’t have the confidence to stand up and I could feel my heart was still in a whacky rhythm, it was just safer to stay put while Douglas talked to the 911 operator while he waited for the ambulance to arrive at the door.  It’s always tight in our small little apartment when we have to call the paramedics, generally, firefighters are the first to arrive, then general paramedics but since this is my heart, they also send a specially trained cardiac team to take over should there be a need. Then there is all the gear and the stretcher, if it weren’t so serious, it would almost be comical, everyone carefully trying to work around each other, our cat, now awake and curious out sniffing at everyone’s heels and getting in the way.  While the paramedics are taking my vitals, Douglas is stealthily working his way around the apartment trying to pack a bag of the things he anticipates we will need, he has done this so often, he just scratches items off the list in his head.  Finally we are ready to go to the ER. 

It’s always a long, long day, the same questions are asked over and over while we wait for someone from Cardiology to arrive.  I always have an IV started and I can’t eat or drink anything other than water so we sit and wait, and wait.  Finally, sometime mid afternoon I see the Cardiology Resident and he tells me someone will be down with the computer that will read my device so we can see what has happened.  A couple of hours go by, the technician arrives, reads the device only to tell me she has to go and get paper so she can print off the event.  More time passes, we both just want to go home, why is this taking so long?  It’s now dinner time and the headache that was mild a few hours ago is now screaming, my stomach is growling, both of us are getting cranky and I just want to go home.  The technician comes back, prints the event and tells me that there was no shock.  We are so confused…it’s never happened like this before, why didn’t the device shock me? The information I get is vague at best, they tell me I can go home and that an appointment will be scheduled with my regular Electrophysiologist in the coming weeks. All I can think about is getting something to eat.

 

I would get my answers a week after the event when I see my doctor.  It was one extra beat that started it and sixteen seconds, that was all it took, 16 seconds to turn my heart into jello and take me off my feet.  My device was all charged up and ready to go, it would have given me 2 more seconds before hitting my heart with an electrical burst, but for some strange reason, my rhythm corrected on it’s own this time, something it has never done.  Some very small consolation, but because of this event, I have lost much of the mental health progress I had made, my confidence is low.  When I travel anywhere on transit alone, I look around and wonder which one of the strangers riding the bus with me will help me should I need it. I can’t drive for 6 months.  Any hope that I had that our life was getting back to normal is gone and there are so many things we still want to do.  Quality of life is nearly non-existant, we wait for the next event unable to take control over this situation. 

 

There is no rhyme or reason to what is happening to me, there are no answers still.