Going from heathly to being diagnosed with HF

September 25, 2018, in and up in the hospital due not being able to move around without being so short of breath (SOB) just from trying to get dressed or trying to tie my shoes. I had been ignoring the symptoms, SOB, swollen ankles which came and went away, same with my stomach. I just kept pushing myself. There was stress from work, not knowing if we were going to have a job or not.

"Take me to the ER now!"

I just pushed myself until that morning, September 25, 2018. I had my daughter get my cousin to come into my room, I told that I needed to go to the ER. I got to the hospital and I was immediately put in PCU, Echo was done, my EF 10%. (Normal EF is 55-65%). They started me on Lasix IV drip to get rid of the fluid. 80 liters of fluid was taken off my heart. The first few days I didn't really know what was happening, I was sleeping a lot. I was told that I would have to have a heart transplant or a heart pump. But they wanted to start a combination of HF medications to see if we could get my EF up and my heart stronger. I was diagnosed with HF and diabetes. No health issues before this happened. Not on any medications before this happened. I thought I was healthy. I was taking 7 different medications along with two insulins. Was put on oxygen at night. I was told that I had to wear a Lifevest due to my EF being 10%. I knew what a Lifevest was, but as soon as the lady came in with the box, I broke down. The Lifevest was just in case my heart stopped, if that happened I would get shocked. In order for me to handle it, I gave my Lifevest a name, Toby.

My lifevest named Toby

Toby and I had an understanding that I would do everything the doctors told me to do and Toby agreed that he would spit up all that blue stuff all over me and wouldn't shock me. I had to find some humor due to being on my death bed when I got to the hospital. I was in the hospital for over 2 weeks. My doctors wanted to make sure that I was ready to go home, or should I say that my body was ready. I had to learn how to take my sugar levels and give myself shots three times a day. I went home, some things had to change, had a home health nurse come in once a week for about two months. I had to weigh myself every morning and if I gained 3 pounds a day or 5 pounds in a week, I was instructed to call my doctor right away. I will tell you that I followed every single thing that my doctors told me to do. I took my medication faithfully, watch everything I eat, stay away from sugar, exercise, and I asked a lot of questions even if they sounded dumb.

Lifestlye changes had to be made

I couldn't do the things that I did before without being SOB or tried. I had to learn that I might not be 100% like I was before all this happened. I had to learn to pace myself. I got frustrated because I couldn't do what I did before. I started cardiac rehab, I was the youngest in the group, but I went through the class getting my heart stronger. Two weeks before Christmas, my EF was up to 50%. I had to see a doctor at MUSC who specializes in HF patients, if needed he would be doing a heart transplant. My second visit with him, I am to see him as needed, to stay on three HF medications. In February of 2019, on the way to cardiac rehab, I started feeling chest pains and was SOB. I knew something wasn't right. I told the staff at cardiac rehab what was going on, I was immediately sent to the ER and taken back right away. I ended having to have a stress test which showed a blockage.

Listened to my body

So I was scheduled for a cath which ended up with a stent. I have learned to listen to my body and not ignore the symptoms. To ask questions, even if dumb. Who knew that a cold I got in March 2018, which lingered up until I went into the hospital in September. It just wouldn't go away. A virus from the cold attacked my heart and caused all of that. I was told that if I hadn't come to the hospital when I did, I might not be alive today. God had plans for me. He wasn't ready for me just yet. I do believe that. It brought my girls and me closer. It has also help me to talk to others that may have heart issues and have doubts about having a cath, a stress test, an echo or just talking to their doctor.

My lasting advice

My best advice these days is you have to take care of yourself first in order to be able to take care of your family, your job, your life. We are all guilty of not taking care of ourselves especially doing it first before everything else. But I'm telling you from my experience, take care of yourself first. It's not being selfish, it's being able to be there to enjoy your family and your life. I learned to do a lot of things differently, which some haven't been easy for me. I have had a great support system of family and friends.

My healthcare team

Also, have an awesome group of doctors working together with each other and with me to get me back to where I am today. I have a cardiologist, specialize HF cardiologists, family doctor, diabetic doctor, Ob doctor, surgeon, a pulmonologist. This is my team and we all work together. And I love them all. I have had three of them call me personally to check on me, which meant a lot to me. This is my story. I am still following orders and taking my medications as told.

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