Recognize the symptoms

Dan's story - how listening to his body (and his wife) saved his life

Dan shares his story to illustrate just how important it is to recognize the symptoms of heart disease.

I got up on Sunday morning and played 18 holes of golf. When I finished, I was a little tired, but that was not unusual as I had been telling my wife that at age 48, I was starting to finally feel older.

Some early signs

That same day, it was a nice afternoon so I decided to head out bow hunting. My step-brother and I headed out to our place and arrived a couple of hours before sunset. I headed to my tree stand which was an easy walk across a picked bean field and only about 400 yards. I was half way across when I felt a pain in the center of my chest. I slowed down, thinking "that was kind of strange." I also had some tingling in my fingers of the left hand, but thought that was from carrying my bow by the bowstring on that hand. With a shrug of the shoulders, I continued to my stand.

Upon arriving at the base of my tree, I was still in pain and sweating. I sat down at the base of the tree to rest. Five minutes later I was feeling fine, so up the tree I went to finish my hunt. I managed to take a nice 8-point buck right at dusk and waited until full dark to get done from my tree stand.

Was I having a heart attack?

My step-brother was only about 300 yards away, so I headed for his tree stand. As I was walking over to him, the pain returned. When I got to where he was waiting I dropped to my knees and told him that I felt like I was having a heart attack. We just stayed right there and talked for a bit as we told each other about the night's activities.

About 10 minutes later, he asked me what I wanted to do. I said let's just slowly walk back to the truck and we will see how I feel. We got back to the truck without anymore pain, so I said lets go take care of my deer. We dressed the buck out, threw it in the back of the truck, and went home.

The next morning I got up and took the deer to the processor and returned home. I took a mid-day nap and decided to mow my lawn. While mowing the front lawn, the pain returned. I finished the front, then shut the mower off and sat down in the garage. Again, five minutes later, I was feeling fine. Started the mower back up and headed for the backyard. Just as I entered, it started to pour rain. I quickly headed back to the garage.

She likely saved my life!

My wife came down to the garage when she heard the rain. She found me leaning against my boat and asked if I was all right. I told her what had happened and she said, "We are going to the emergency room!" (we live 5 blocks from a hospital).

Three days later I was having a triple bypass.

I certainly learned that you should listen to your body. If the rain had not started, I could have had a heart attack in my backyard while mowing. As it was, I feel lucky that I went to the hospital before I had any heart damage.

Did you recognize the symptoms when it was happening to you? Share your story.

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