by Anna-Maria Pacella/Swann
(Port St. Lucie, Florida)

I hadn't realized I had a heart condition!

Less than 2 years ago I had a hysterectomy. With that comes many changes in your body-all of those changes I was experiencing. I began putting on weight then most recently it was from one day to the next- three to four pounds!Can you imagine waking up feeling bloated or just fat then getting on the scale & it's right there in front of you. Yep, you went to bed & put on weight. Ugh. I found myself tired more & at times napping. Very out of the ordinary for me.

I even called my GYN's office & spoke with the nurse who informed me that my body will go thru changes after my surgery & it could take up to '2' years to come to normality. These symptoms were not out of the ordinary. Okay, that answered it for me. I thought eventually it should stop being so bad & level out. After all I was taking my bio-identical hormones daily.

Well, while taking my morning showers I started to get winded when I got to shaving my legs. So much so that on more than a few occasions I had to get out of the shower, & sit for a bit. That had me worried.

I finally mentioned it to my sister who is a cardiac nurse & told her what had been going on. With my family history her suggestion was to get a physical & not put it off.

So, on this one Saturday I decided to head to a hospital ER that was notorious for their heart care, Lawnwood Regional(some thing in the back of my head told me to travel the extra miles to go there). We have a hospital just 8 minutes from our home but I drove 20 minutes instead.
I had figured it would be better to go to the ER because unlike a physicians office where if you needed an xray or lab work there were more appointments at different places, so off to the ER they have every machine available for any test I might need.

I have to say, once in the ER it went along quickly. They read my reason for visit & took me in for an EKG which was off so they got me a bed immediately to be seen. I had an xray done in the room, they put in an IV incase I needed medication. I want you to know that at this time I never imagined I had a heart problem. Not me!

Then I had a visit with the ER doctor who went thru my family history-he was concerned about it. Another doctor came in to tell me that I would be a guest there at least for the night & would see a cardiologist the next day. It would be the cardiologist who would sign me out to go home. He came in to see me the next day. I had extensive testing done-nuclear because I have allergies-when I got to the stress test I made it maybe 30 seconds & he took me off the treadmill, told me I had severe blockage & that the following day I would have a heart catherization & possibly stents. He was very thorough in his explanations & very caring. I had & still have faith in him.

So I had the cath done & he told me that he couldn't use the stents. I thought okay, & asked if I just needed medication. He said no, that I had 95%,80% & 60% blockage & that I would need open heart surgery, triple bypass. It would be done the following day. I was shocked. I still find it hard to believe I have been thru this. It was my genetic history that was the culprate. I ate very healthy, never used salt & wasn't fond of fried or greasy foods all of which contribute to the demise of one's heart. Over the years I did put on weight but still kept myself active & looked pretty good considering I wasn't skinny or 19 anymore.

My surgeon was wonderful, another very caring doctor. He talked to me and answered all of my questions and was very reassuring. All my doctors & caretakers were fantastic & helped tremendously with me getting better and able to go home without going to a rehab facility.

I had a hospital bed at the house which was a heaven send. I could never have gotten in & out of my bed. Yes, that heart shaped pillow was my very best friend. I still use it. It's been since April 29 that I had my bypass done going on 3 months. I am told I look really great for someone who's gone thru what I have.

I don't walk as much these days because it's too hot out-I make it a point to walk the plaza where I work 4 days a week because it's a covered walkway all the way around.

I thought I was doing great & I felt great so I over did it one day a couple of weeks ago & hurt myself by lifting a 52lb bag of dog food. The following day I was admitted to the hospital for extensive testing to make sure I hadn't done damage to my heart. It was all muscular. I thank God that's all it was. I will not do that again. Because of that stunt I am not allowed on my treadmill until after I see my doctor (on the 27th) & he says I can do it.

When our weather cools down a bit I will ride a bike & walk the fields where our son practices soccer. I will exercise again if I get the okay next week.

This all has made me very grateful to be alive. My sister was told that had I not gotten in for testing-within 6 months I would've had a major heart attack. OMG, the thought of that scares me still. I was so lucky. I am grateful for my sister. I made the right decision to tell someone what was going on & luckily it was her because she is in the medical field & it's her specialty. If I didn't get winded I would've just blown off the symptoms as being part of my hysterectomy recovery.

I am so very lucky. I hope to never have to go thru this again. I am going to do all I can to get myself in the very best shape, physically & mentally so I can live a long healthy life. I can only tell you to pay attention to your body. If things aren't right, go see your doctor. If your problem doesn't get resolved, go back. I will not take my health for granted. I'm lucky that I don't have to make much of a difference in my eating habits. I will have to give up pasta which I can have once a month, & I will have to give up brie & I can have that once a month. Otherwise I eat healthy enough. I just have to eat my 3 meals everyday & incorporate more vegetables & fruits. I eat lots of fish to begin with so yippee for me! A staple many people could care less about eating even once a week.

My goal is to get down to my best weight of 136-138, that's 30 lbs I've got to lose. It took years to put it on & I will take it off slowly & keep it off.I've already lost 11.5 pounds!

I would also like to set another goal to not need to take medication or a much smaller dosage of beta blocker. Getting my weight down to my goal weight could do just that. I want to make my genetic makeup not a threat to me any more. I can at least make it less of a problem. I am determined!

God Bless

Comments for Anna-Maria

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i had two heart attacks..and understand how you feel
by: sandi

thank you for sharing your story. like you..i was very very shocked to have two heart attacks at age 37. i have lost 40 pounds and quit smoking and am keeping a healthy lifestyle. i know what you mean about eating all the fruits and veggies and fish! its a lot but its important. and the treadmill. i did same thing as you...lifted something too heavy and had to stay off my treadmill for a while too. keep believing in yourself..and when you get those scary moments late at nite or when you feel angina coming on...know that you are not alone..and you will be fine. you were meant to survive! xo

Keep going strong!
by: Wanda

You can do it - just keep up the exercise and healthy living :) My bypass was 7 months ago now and I've lost nearly 30 pounds and am able to jog 3 miles again. You can get back to your healthy life, too.

Take care of yourself. Good luck!

by: Sandra

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Anna-Marie. It's amazing how our lives can change so dramatically, so quickly! Good luck with your goals, and give your sister a big hug. Thank goodness she gave you the advice she did.

Keep in touch!

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