Postpartum spontaneous coronary artery dissection
(China Grove North Carolina)
I am a 36 year old female, good health, and May 31st 2009, gave birth to my fourth baby.
Pregnancy was uneventful and birth was normal and things were as good as it could be. I had been feeling short of breath and sick to my stomach the last month of pregnancy, but chalked it up to my huge baby belly!!
Went home and enjoyed 2 whole days with my new baby and family, except feeling very tired. I was so tired that my husband had to feed the baby during the night. I felt very guilty about that, but just could not muster up the strength.
Third evening home with new baby, around 7 p.m. felt a sudden burning, tearing, pressure in my chest. I broke out in a cold sweat, and could not take a deep breath.
We immediately went to the e.r. where my blood pressure was 190/150...I was told that I had had a heart attack.
They immediately did the tests and told me that I had had a spontaneous coronary artery dissection of the left main descending artery and they could not stent it since the tear was so high up on the heart, they would have to bypass it three ways.
I would have to have open heart surgery.
But, wait...I have a new baby and three other children at home. This was one of the only times in my life when I did not have any sense of control.
I had to do this or die.
I had never even had a strained muscle, broken bone, or anything in my life!! Just a few hours later, my family is there and they are wheeling me off to the scariest experience of my life.
I woke to the
nurse telling me to cough and pulling something from out of my throat. Time had been replaced with confusion...but, I was alive and they told me later things had not looked good for me for awhile. Morphine pump was my friend for a few days.
It has been a little over a year since THE SURGERY and I have heart damage, but the doc says that my heart works on the low side of normal...so, hey, it's still within normal limits. He said that most cases like mine arrive at hospital in cardiac arrest, so I was lucky.
I feel very blessed that I was spared, so that I can be a mother to my children and a wife to my husband.
I was really depressed after the surgery and on top of that having postpartum blues!! I think having an infant to take care of afterward, made me have something to focus on besides myself. You don't know what a challenge it is to not be able to lift your two week old baby. But, we made it through, and things get easier every day.
Although, I do have to talk myself out of panic attacks, I have anxiety about any twinge of pain in my chest. As far as the scar...well, I have my ups and downs about that. Some days I just don't care if anyone sees it, and sometimes I want to hide it. The scars on my leg don't bother me at all.
I wear shorts, and even spent a week at the beach and wore a bathing suit. It is my life...I don't want it to be controlled by my heart, my scars, my anxiety, my lowered confidence in my body, my damn heart sonograms!!! But, sometimes it is.