Ripley Believe it or Not: Reality with Heart Failure Diagnosis

Last updated: April 2022

On a Sunday afternoon, I started having a pain in my back. So unusual, it kept getting stronger. I was going to drive to the ER, yet by the time I got down to the street, it was so intense. I called 911 and flagged them down like a taxi. I told them I thought I was having a heart attack.

Getting a diagnosis in the ER

When I got to ER, I told the nurse the same thing. EKGs all showed normal. They then thought I had carbon monoxide poisoning and tested me for that. When labs came back, I had been in the ER for a long time (2 hours) and reflecting on heart distress. Then they rushed me to the cath lab and put two stents in my left artery. They said it was 100% blocked. Afterward, in the ICU, the surgeon said I made it by 30 seconds. I was in the ICU and was told I had congestive heart failure for life. I did not know what that was at the time.

Another heart attack

They said to go to cardiac rehab. I went there after a week in the hospital. After 4 days, I was doing exercises with the PT nurse and I said, "Stop, I’m having another heart attack." She pressed some buttons, alarms went off, and I was rushed back to the hospital. Yes, I had another heart attack doing rehab and got another stent in the left artery.

This heart failure progressed and I would get tired in the afternoon and had to get a nap. It was depressing, as my life changed so much in what I could plan and do.

Then I found a community

It was at that depressing point that I found this wonderful support group online. Someone wrote about the same problem of trying to explain to people that while you may look ok, you need to curtail your activities and rest whenever you need it. Like when your cell phone runs out of battery, you can’t use it unless you charge it. My naps are my chargers. Sometimes the fatigue is so strong that I can hardly do anything. It’s been 2.5 years since this all happened.

So thank you to everyone who writes on this site. You may not know that you are helping others the moment they read your story.

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