January 22, 2010

USA: "I Never Should Have Had a Heart Attack, But I Did!"

. CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia / Newswise.com / January 22, 2010 I am a 52-year-old woman with no history of heart disease! However, I survived a heart attack and had six stents placed in my heart June 22, 2009 at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. People would say, myself included, that this can not be true. I had lived my life being active and fit. I had been living a healthful and happy life, trying to set a good example for those around me. No one had a clue this could happen to me, and here's why. I am a swim instructor at Michael Phelps Swim School and masters swim coach at Meadowbrook. I am a former tri-athlete, competitive swimmer, lacrosse and field hockey player. I used to coach sports and teach physical education in Baltimore and in Alaska. My family spends our summers hiking and kayaking in Alaska’s wilderness. I swim regularly and train year round for the “health of it” and to ride in 65 and 100 miler day bike tours. As you can imagine, my heart attack has changed my life completely. It is the scariest thing I have ever experienced, but I was lucky. I was at the right place at the right time. After riding in Baltimore’s 65 mile Tour Dem Parks Ride two weeks prior and a 37 mile solo ride, I was wading in a pool when I felt a severe burning in my chest, as if I had inhaled toxic fumes! Looking around at the other people in the pool, I knew no one else was experiencing discomfort. The moment became surreal. I looked at the lifeguard on the stand and told her I didn’t feel right. A sip of water did not rid me of this sensation and the pressure beneath my sternum began gradually. The assistant lifeguard was sent to check on me. I told her, “I’ll be okay, let me call my sister, who is a nurse in Virginia Beach.” But at that point, the insightful, well-trained guard had already called 9-1-1. My sister also advised that I go to the hospital. The pressure was growing. I was having a heart attack. With the help of the E-M-Ts, hospital staff, doctors at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, family, work, fitness buddies, book club, neighbors, friends and the LifeBridge Cardiac Rehabilitation program, I continue to get healthier each day. Having a heart attack was like a death to me. I lost who I was. I was in a sort of mourning for months afterwards. I was very scared. I did not want to leave my daughter! It took a physical and emotional toll on me that a change in lifestyle has helped me overcome. I have taken all medical and health advice to heart. I strictly follow my doctor, Stacy Fisher, MD's orders and take my medicine religiously. I monitor my heart rate and keep a check on my blood sugar level. With Dr. Fisher's blessing, I began swimming and biking within two to three weeks after surgery. I train under the target heart rate guidelines that she has set for me. Over the course of the last seven months, my target heart rate been raised, and my workout intensity levels have increased. Exercise helps my heart and helps my stress levels. My diet restrictions were red meat and fried foods, but I have chosen to eliminate refined foods and eat as much fiber in the way of grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables that I can. My mom would be proud of this! I have traded sugary snacks for protein that keeps my blood sugars in check. I eat several small meals throughout my day to fill me and keep my energy levels up. I avoid high fat, high cholesterol foods. I feel great and have lost 15 + pounds! In July, I was hiking gradual mountain trails in Alaska. In October, I rode in my 4th annual Sea Gull Century completing… 79.6 miles of the 100. Next year I will do 100 again! I am stronger, healthier and more confident than ever! Telling my story is very important to me. I want you to know that you should never second-guess how you are feeling. When in doubt…Check it out! I have returned to the emergency room twice since my event because I just didn’t feel right and was not sure. I was fine but everyone was glad I came in. I hope my story can help save a life or help anyone make a small change or upgrade in their lifestyle. You are in charge. Take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of the ones you love! [rc] Source: LifeBridge Health ©2010 Newswise, Inc