Sunday, August 04, 2013

I Thought I had the Flu ...

About a month ago, I had a heart attack while on my morning run (aka jog). I'm writing about it now in hopes that others will learn some helpful things from my experience (and mistakes).

So on my run that morning, I noticed that both of my shoulders felt tight and stressed. Not uncommon for my right shoulder because of all the computer work I do, but this time my left shoulder ached as well. Missed cue number 1.

Instead of questioning this unusual pain, I cranked my left arm around a couple of times to loosen it up ~ and then I told myself to push harder, to "stretch it out." Farther down the road that pain in my shoulder worsened and spread to my upper chest. Then I began to get nauseous and an overwhelming pressure dropped over me, sort of like I'd suddenly slipped into a not-so-comfortable suit of armor.

I stopped jogging, of course, even though I was almost to my favorite spot at the beach and my dog continued to yank me forward. But I'd never felt like this before and knew something was terribly wrong. My mind searched for answers ...

Was it last night's pasta?
Too much chocolate for dessert?
Or maybe that glass of Prosecco I'd had with dinner ...

I realized then that I hadn't brought a phone. I've been running for 30 years and have never brought one with me. True, when I began jogging, they hadn't been invented yet, but still. Now I know: It's DUMB not to bring a phone when exercising. Not knowing how I would get back home was both lonely and frightening.

So I started walking back, stooping once to pick up Charlie-the-Dog's poop. Eventually I sat on the wall of an empty house because I felt short of breath and zapped of strength. And I kept dry heaving. And my shoulder ached so much that if not for modesty, I would have pulled off my shirt right then and there (In my increasingly clouded state of mind, I remember thinking that maybe my running bra was just too tight ...).

While I sat on that wall, I asked the Lord (begged, actually) to send me an angel ~ and he sent me two: my neighbors on their golf cart. They were so kind to get me home quickly. So kind that the wife of the pair had to run my dog home since their doggy wasn't keen about allowing another canine to climb aboard. (I have no recollection of what happened to that bag of doggy poopy ...)

At home, my husband Dan tried to call 911, but I fought him, saying, "I just have the flu!" I've since learned via the American Heart Association that women who are in denial often say the same thing! Although I tried to convince him to let me get some sleep, Dan forced me into his car and sped me to the hospital. I will be forever grateful to my husband who followed his instincts ~ starting with ignoring my misguided protests!

The ER docs took it from there ... and I now have new forever friend named, Stent.

Have you seen this video, Just a Little Heart Attack, featuring Elizabeth Banks? Although I didn't experience all the warning signs depicted here, such as sweating and jaw pain, I did have some of them as noted in bold above ~ and like her, found myself dangerously in denial.

Please take care of yourselves, my beachy friends ... wherever you are.


Leanna Ellis said...

Julie! I am so sorry! Praying for you, girlfriend! Hope you are okay now and feeling fine! If I can do anything to help you, let me know! Sending you lots of hugs! So glad you are okay! Love, Le

Sharon (Cook) Leaf said...

I'm so glad you posted this very important information for women of all ages. I'm so glad you are better, but like me, once I had my heart attack at the age of 49 (while I was a volunteer on a WWII ship in Greece), I'm always aware of what my body is telling me. We cannot take these little warning signs lightly. It's better to call 911 and live, rather than go to bed with the 'flu' and die. Just sayin'. Oceans of blessings to you, my beachy friend!

Julie Carobini said...

Thank you, Le. I appreciate you!

And Sharon, I had read your post quite awhile back, but I still fell into denial I guess some of us just need to hear things more than once!

Charmaine T. Davis, author said...

Julie, sorry this happened to you, but I love how you could describe exactly how the pain felt and in what sequence--thanking God for the writer in you and thanking God you are alive to tell the tale. I often have pain in my arms (from typing too much) and I would have thought the same as you.
Heart attacks are so unexpected and it is crucial everyone knows the signs. My brother had one at 21 and thank God my sister had just learned the warning signs and rushed him to the ER or I wouldn't have a brother right now.

Vader's Mom said...

Oh goodness! I glad your neighbors were able to help you out and that your husband is more stubborn than you!!! Thank you for the description that I had not heard before and will make me more aware of what my body is telling me. Glad you are feeling better now!