Tag Archives: stent

Meeting 2 of My Doctors aka Heroes

I had an incredibly special day recently where Orlando Health was able to arrange a meet and greet for me with 2 of the doctors who saved my life the night of my heart attack.  There were actually 3 doctors, but the 3rd has become my primary cardiologist.  He wasn’t able to make it to this meet and greet.

I anxiously awaited this day for many months…wondering how it would be – what questions would I ask, what would I say, would I get emotional, how would I react, and most importantly…what would I wear?  The outfit of the day was not hard to figure out.  I hit a sale at the Converse outlet and found the most perfect shoes (have I mentioned before that I collect Converse?).  These were red glittered Converse low-tops.  PERFECT!  Now, I just needed a cool shirt with a sparkly heart.  I googled shirts and found a super cute one with a big red sequined heart that only cost about $185 (have you noticed I have expensive taste?).  I couldn’t afford it, and I couldn’t find another one I liked that was cheap enough, so my friend gave me the idea of buying a sequined heart appliqué and making my own.  I went to Michael’s, they had one left, I used a coupon, and I bought it.  The heart wasn’t as big and humungous as I would have liked, but it was red, sequined, and shiny.  PERFECT!  I then went to Target and quickly found the perfect shirt that I had in mind for the appliqué.  So, I came home and “made” my shirt!  It turned out so cute!!

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I really loved my outfit so much that I wore it to work all day instead of changing into it after work before going to the meet and greet.  🙂

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Neither of my besties or my siblings were able to make it to the meet and greet, so it was just me and my parents.  We made it to the Heart Institute on time and met with someone from the hospital who led us to the doctor’s lounge to wait until the meeting was finished.  My mom took a pic of me and my dad while we were waiting.  Notice that we are both wearing my LoveYourHeartBlog awareness wristbands!!!

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And then they walked in.  First, Dr. Steiner, followed by Dr. Garcia.  At first, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I shook hands with Dr. Steiner and then shook hands with Dr. Garcia who then hugged me.  They both said that I looked great and asked how I was doing and how I was feeling.  I proceeded to give them a quick update/recap of how I’ve been doing and my progress thus far with cardiac rehab, running, etc.  I spent almost an hour talking to them.  It was so great.  I was able to say everything I had wanted to say to them.  They seemed very appreciative and grateful that I had made the effort to meet with them personally to say thank you.  We took a few pictures, I gave each of them one of my blog bracelets, and told them about this blog.

I felt so incredible after the meeting.  I had been waiting so long to see them, and it was almost like it had brought me some sort of closure.  When I was in the hospital, each of these doctors had to leave very soon after my procedure for vacations and I never got to spend as much time as I had hoped to with them.  Dr. Steiner is who placed my stent.  I remember he left the next day for a vacation, I think.  Dr. Garcia is the one who placed my balloon pump and I remember him being the one I was asking questions to on the way to the cath lab that night.  He is also the one who took my balloon pump back out (which was extremely painful).  He said he was surprised at how calm I was when he took the pump out…but what was I supposed to do?  I really wanted the pump out so I could move my leg and get out of bed to go use the bathroom!  LOL.  The pump had been in over 2 days and I could not move my right leg the entire time for fear that it would rip out of my leg, and I would bleed to death.  It made it very uncomfortable.  Once that pump was out, I was able to leave ICU and move into a regular room.  That pump was so weird.

So rather than bore you with details of everything we talked about, I think I will keep those conversations to myself to cherish.  It was such a very special time for me.

I hope this reminds people to always remember their hospital staff, doctors, nurses, etc. when they are being treated.  It truly takes an entire team of people to take care of you when you are sick, and they probably don’t always receive the thanks and recognition they deserve.  If you have been on the receiving end of their care, please take the time to say thank you, whether it be face-to-face, by sending a card, a letter, etc.  Thanking my doctors has been great therapy for me, too, in my healing process.  I feel like I have a larger support system out there in my doctors because they remember me and remember that night and what I went through.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…2 OF MY 3 HEROES FROM THAT NIGHT:

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My Story.

On Monday, June 16, I had what I thought was a gall bladder attack.  Two weeks earlier, I was diagnosed as having gall stones, so I scheduled an appointment to have my gall bladder removed.  (This would be my very first surgery ever, and I was so nervous.)  The pain was unbearable.  It started out as severe burning in my chest, like heartburn, and engulfed the entire top half of my body.  I couldn’t find a position that would make the pain go away.  Then I broke out into a sweat and started shaking.  I knew something was not right, and fearing for the worst, I contacted a colleague (I was staying in a local hotel for work) who dialed 911.  Once the paramedics arrived, most of the pain had gone away.  They took my vitals and checked my heart, and they dismissed it as a gall bladder attack.  They gave me the choice to go with them in the ambulance or come to the hospital later if I started feeling bad again.  I chose not to be transported by ambulance, and the paramedics left.  A friend of mine bought some heartburn medicine for me, which I took immediately.  However, the pain came back.  I concentrated really hard to make the pain go away again, and it did…mostly.  I contacted my GI doctor to get seen immediately.  I could hardly walk and couldn’t drive, so another colleague drove me to the doctor’s office.  There, I was prescribed heartburn medicine, pain medicine, and sent for blood work.  I also rescheduled my gall bladder surgery to Friday, June 20 (originally scheduled Wednesday, June 25, due to my work schedule).

The pain medicine seemed to help, and by the next morning, I felt I was okay to go into work and just take it easy most of the day.  That idea was quickly squashed, as another attack came on mid-morning!  This time, the pain was centered to my sternum and had moved to the left.  I also had shortness of breath, and it hurt to breathe deeply.  I immediately contacted my GI doctor who told me that my blood work had come back with elevated levels of WBCs, therefore, I had an infection.  We contacted the GI surgeon to see if he could work me in that day, which he did.  My surgery was scheduled for 4:00pm.  Before leaving for the outpatient facility, the surgeon contacted me and said he didn’t feel right about sending me to the outpatient facility in case something went wrong – since we already knew there was an infection – so he wanted me to be admitted to the hospital instead.  He would do my surgery at 4:00pm and I would spend the night so they could check and make sure all was okay before releasing me the next morning.  This would be my first surgery AND my first hospital stay ever!  I’m really nervous.

I had two of my friends drive me to the hospital to get checked in.  My breathing was very shallow and labored.  I was weak, didn’t feel well, was in pain, and my eye sight started getting blurry.  Once I was in the surgery prep room, I let all of the doctors and nurses know about my painful and shallow breathing.  All assured me that wasn’t a problem, and I would be feeling better in no time.  I don’t even remember being put to sleep with anesthesia.  The only thing I remember next was waking up after the surgery.

I was in recovery, and I woke up, very groggy, so someone saying my name, “Kim!”  I was then left alone and began to feel excruciating pain in the upper half of both arms.  I also felt nauseous.  I started to moan and groan and shake my arms and call for someone to please help me that I was nauseous and my arms were hurting really bad.  I think I was dozing in and out.  Someone asked me how long I’d had a heart problem.  I went into fighter mode and became very defensive.  I said, “I don’t have a heart problem!”  Someone else asked me if I knew I had a heart problem.  I said, “I don’t have a problem with my heart!  What is going on?”  The next thing I knew, people were all around me.  I heard whispers of “heart condition” but no one ever told me what was wrong.  Then someone started doing an echo of my heart and asking me about my “heart condition”.  Again, I exclaimed that nothing was wrong with my heart.  I remember a Dr. going around and thanking each person individually for staying late to help me.  Then I remember looking up and seeing a priest!  “Why is there a priest?!” I yelled out.  “Is the priest here for me????!!!”  Someone answered that there were normally lots of people around for surgeries.  But that made me mad that there was a priest!  Was I dying?  Did they think I was going to die??  And no one was telling me what was going on?

I remember being taken into another surgery.  I was afraid they might be cracking my chest for open heart surgery.  I asked, “am I going in for another surgery?”  “Yes,” was the reply from someone.  “Am I having 1 or 2 more surgeries?” I asked.  “Hopefully just 1,” someone replied.  “Will I need anesthesia?” I asked.  “No, you only need a local anesthetic for this procedure,” I heard.  And then I was moved to a hard and narrow operating table.  I was able to turn my head enough to see the X-ray monitor that showed everything that was going on!  I remember seeing my artery…with a large plaque that was broken up…and the balloon and stent being pushed through my artery to that area with the plaque.  Unbelievable!  I heard someone say there was a blockage.  I asked what percentage and was told 80%.  And then I started coughing.  I coughed so hard, and I was coughing up fluid…so much fluid!!  I was almost choking and gagging there was so much fluid that was gushing up through my throat from the coughing!!  It tasted so gross.  And the next thing I remember is being in ICU with a Cpap on my face and being yelled at to let it breathe for me.  But I felt suffocated.  Finally, I was able to relax and found my rhythm with this Cpap.  All of my family was there.  Why?  This was a simple gall bladder surgery that went horribly wrong, right?

I learned later that I wasn’t expected to survive throughout the first night.  The damage to my heart was about 50%.  My prognosis was grim.  When I was coughing in the OR, it was pulmonary edema, and my lungs were filling with fluid from heart failure!!  Heart failure?  I had had a heart attack!  My medical record is official – Myocardial Infarction!  What?  I had suffered a massive heart attack in the widow-maker – LAD – a large plaque had burst and collapsed my artery.  The doctors were called in and were at my side working on me within 5-7 minutes.  The cath lab was 2 doors down.  Every minute was critical to saving my life.  I was supposed to be at an outpatient facility!  I wasn’t even supposed to be in the hospital!  The cardiologists did not even practice in the hospital – they were there for a seminar!!  The heart attack was completely independent of the gall bladder surgery, so it would have happened no matter where I was at that time on that day.  Thankfully, all of the stars were aligned, and I was given a second chance at life…

The doctors had lots of questions for me the next day – what were my symptoms, where did it hurt, etc. They say I’m the luckiest person they’ve ever met.  This heart attack normally kills people instantly.  They said that most of my gall bladder symptoms were most likely heart attack symptoms.  Thank goodness I had a bad gall bladder problem to get me to the hospital!

With my new lease on life, I must now live a different way, eat a certain way, and exercise a certain way.  It has been a life-changing event, and I welcome you to follow me on my journey.  xoxo