The Perfect Storm – I’m having a Heart Attack?

August 9th, Sarah and I

August 9th, Sarah and I

On October 14, 2014, one week ago today, I found myself in the emergency room.  A friend, Alissa, insisted that I go with the assurance that she would take care of my kids, the house and the dogs!  She dropped my son and I off and then headed to my daughter’s school.  The emergency room was full of waiting patients when the man behind the counter asked me what was wrong-tightness in my chest and difficulty breathing.  I was whisked away into a room.  After an incredibly brief EKG was completed I was taken into another room where I faced a doctor.

He asked me how long I had been having these symptoms, I looked down at the ground and told him a couple of days.  The doctor looked at me in astonishment.  I was afraid that he didn’t believe me, and afraid that my son would rat me out.  I looked down at the ground again, and recanted my statement and told him it had been a couple of weeks off and on.  “It comes and goes,” I explained.  Another gentleman appeared around the corner and asked the doctor if he had time to do some intake paperwork and get my signatures.  The doctor replied sternly, “NO!”  I burst into tears knowing that I really was having a heart attack.

For months, all of my personality traits worked against me;  stubbornness, independence, responsibility, fear of leaving my children, fear of leaving my dogs.  But more than that was my lack of knowledge of what a heart attack should feel like.  That  combined with my incredible tolerance to pain, denial and fear, created a perfect storm.

While in the emergency room before transport to Florida Hospital Ormond, the doctor kept asking me to rate my pain.  Zero I said.  Seriously?  The nurses and staff all turned and looked at me as they watched my heart on the monitor.  Seriously?  So I gave them a 2 with the caveat that it was 20 an hour ago.  Yes, seriously –  I felt fine as part of my heart was dying.  Unbelievable!

It wasn’t until after it was all over, and I was resting in the hospital room, that I realized that the first time I had a symptom was on August 2nd.  I was sitting on the front porch with Lisa Rose when I mentioned that my left arm felt “lazy” and the tightness in my chest was making it difficult for me to breathe.  It went away.

These episodes continued to come and go, sometimes lingering, but they always went away.  Never did I feel pain, like you see in the movies.  My arm was never “numb” and I never felt the pins and needles.  The portrayal of a heart attack like in Hollywood movies is totally incorrect.  I thought of the Superman Movie where Clark Kent’s father checks his pulse and drops dead instantly.

October 12th, Ryan and I headed to Camden County, GA

October 12th, Ryan and I headed to Camden County, GA

During the months that followed August 2nd, I traveled to Georgia twice, and conducted business as usual while having the symptoms.  That Tuesday morning, I went to the Vet and adopted Shasta.  I warned the folks at Newman that I was going to the emergency room, in case they couldn’t reach me.  Never did I think I was having a heart attack.

Since then, I have learned a lot about how a heart attack presents himself.  You may feel pain in your jaw, your shoulder, or simply feel like you have the flu.

Did you know you can go to any fire department and ask them to check you out if you think you have having a heart attack?  So if you’re driving around with a friend who is as stubborn and pig headed as I am, just pull into the nearest fire department and rat them out!  

I am incredibly lucky to be alive, a hospital chaplain believes that God isn’t ready for me yet, and I have work to do here on earth!  I have many people to thank, my children, my friend Alissa and many TDL peeps for taking care of everything while I recovered.  I specifically would like to thank Sarah and Johanna for taking over my emails, which is no easy task and everyone who brought over healthy goodies for my family!

I’m not out of the woods yet.  Two surgeries are in my near future, and that will alter our rescue efforts.  Will this bump in the road change The Dog Liberator?  I’m sure it will.  Now more than ever we need volunteers to help us continue our mission.  Volunteers to help transport, foster, and virtual fosters.

We welcome your comments and insight regarding heart disease, you never know – someone might read this post and save a life!

Again, thank you for your support and prayers.  ~ Gisele

 

Update:  Here is more information provided by Heart.org that I found very useful. I only wish I would’ve reviewed this site months ago!

Warning Signs

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Update:  I found a handy handy mobile app to help me find my meds super cheap, along with coupons and other offers, I couldn’t believe how affordable they were.  From your mobile phone, find GoodRX Mobile.  Type in your prescription and enter your zip code.  It’s easy and it saved me a ton!

You should also, visit NeedyMeds.org if you need help with your medications.

 

Email us for more information: TheDogLiberator@gmail.com







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10 Comments

  1. Sent to me by Al:
    So sorry to hear of your health problems. Apparently you are one of the lucky ones. As a Chicago Fire Department Paramedic I saw many who were not so lucky including my father. In 2001 I had a bad toothache and went to the dentist. He examined me and told me to immediately see a cardiologist. He made arrangements for me to go just across the hall from his practice to see one. Without going into all the details I saw the cardiologist who called in a cardio/thoracic surgeon and I was on the table the very next day with a triple by-pass. No symptoms except pain in the jaw like a toothache. No problems since.

  2. Debbie Ankiel

    10.21.2014

    Giselle,

    It’s so ironic in a way that you posted this today. I have had two abnormal EKGs in the past month with inverted T lines (whatever that means) and am going to a cardiologist tomorrow. I have not had any symptoms, work out every day and try and eat healthy but my dad died of a heart attack at the age of 60.

    I am pretty anxious about the visit tomorrow but I have to feel that if anything was seriously wrong they would have had me go immediately and tell me not to travel, etc.

    What did your EKG show?

    Take care of yourself and feel better.

    Debbie

    • Judging on the looks of their faces, my EKG was showing I was having a full blown heart attack!

      The actual EKG paper was only about five inches long before they stopped the machine, ripped the paper off, and took the thingies off my chest. I thought that was good news! It wasn’t!

      They kept asking me what my pain level was on a scale from 0 to 10. I kept saying 0, and they kept looking at me like I was insane! So to make them happy, I said 2! To be honest, the pain on the way to the hospital was a 20! My blood pressure was something crazy like 235/130. Let’s just say the team around me was very nervous!

  3. Mary Moriarty-cook

    10.21.2014

    Hey! Hey! Hey! Giselle, you need to pamper yourself. You have far too many people (dogs are people!) who love and need you to crap out on up now! Get the surgeries and follow doctors orders. My hubby had a quintuple (that’s 5) bypass a couple of years ago, even though he “felt fine”! Thanks for sharing your experience. I wish thou a speedy recovery.

  4. Christa Dickerson

    10.21.2014

    Gisele~

    I want to thank you and all TDL volunteers for everything yall do! Your dedication and compassion is admirable! From the bottom of all our hearts, thank you for allowing our family to adopt Ginny! She has only been here a few days but has already been a huge blessing! If there is ever anything I can do for TDL, please do not hesitate to contact me- especially when you go through your surgeries! I’ll be praying for your full recovery and health.

  5. Hi, Gisele, I hope you are feeling better, and that all
    your upcoming procedures go well. I had heart surgery in 2007. I too was so busy helping others that I forgot to care for myself! You are just like that, I can tell. Take it easy. The dogs need you, but you must be healthy! Don’t be rushing back into things before you are ready, and know when to say no. I have found that things can wait till another day, most of the time.

    On a bright note, Curtis and “Lady” are a perfect match! They are so happy, it brings tears to my eyes just seeing them together. I am SO glad I found you, and through you found the perfect little dog for him! They need each other.

    Please take good care of yourself! ~ Dr. Elaine Clifford

  6. Candy

    10.21.2014

    Wow, so sorry to read this. So very happy you are here to tell your story. Please take care of yourself and thank you to all who were there, stepped up and helped!

  7. Debbie Ankiel

    10.21.2014

    Wow! What type of surgeries are you going to have? You should really take it easy and learn to delegate!!! I am not in a position to foster, or transport, but I will definitely be donating on a regular basis to try and help. You do such wonderful work, I always tell everyone I know about your organization. I know everything will work out fine but please take care of yourself.

  8. Dianne & Jon Cheney

    10.22.2014

    Dear Giselle,
    We are both so sorry to hear about your health problems. You are right, you definitely need to focus on regaining your health for yourself and your family. You have helped so very many dogs. Give yourself permission to be content with that at this time and concentrate on getting well.
    Frasier and Angel send wet kisses.
    Our prayers are with you and your children.

  9. Pamela Gardner

    06.03.2016

    Thank you so much for this article and I am hoping you are feeling better. I believe many of us involved in rescue are at risk as what we do is so, so stressful at times…
    God Bless and I hope all of us will be well and take care of ourselves as often I feel that we do not. Blessings!!!

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