Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Today I am writing to you by the Grace of God. I had a heart attack last week and almost died.  Those of you who are sweet enough to read my blog all the time, know I have not felt well for months now.  Apparently I had a ticking time bomb in my chest for a good long time now.  From what the Docs found I had a heart attack in the last 5 to 7 yrs from one of my main coronary arteries being blocked 100%. It was long enough ago that small capularies have grown to bridge the gap in the artery blockage.  For the last last 3-4 months I have barely been able to get around to do housework or crafts or anything. I would do a little, cook a meal, put a load of dishes to washing or a load of clothes and then have to sit or lay down and rest. Last week it got the worse it has been.  Friday I could hardly to anything.  Saturday morning I got up around 5 am because I just couldn't stay in the bed I hurt so much.  About 6 am it started thundering and I checked to weather on line and sure enough a big storm was headed straight at us.  Friday nite Don had cut a lot of grass (and because it WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO RAIN!!) he left the lawn mower uncovered to finish cutting Sat.  I went outside and rolled it under the tarp and got it ready for the storm. I walked back in the house and barely made it in. I sat down and felt like a huge weight was sitting across my collar bones, like a huge fist was buried between my shoulder blades in the back, and a tingling down my left arm this time all the way to my finger tips. I felt like I was going to throw up and felt some pains shooting up thru both sides of my neck. I could barely breath. I sat there for several minutes ~mostly because I couldn't do anything else. Move or breathe or anything. just holding on to the chair. Then it started to ease a little and finally I was able to stand up and moved several feet to my recliner. I guess you are wondering why I didn't call my husband and have him get me to the hospital. I don't have any insurance to cover anything.  I have not gone to the dr because I couldn't pay him. I knew if i went to the ER I would run up a bill of thousands of dollars in just a few hours if I lived or not. Honestly a funeral is cheaper than a hospital. I do have a little life insurance. Since the pain backed off a little I decided to stick it out a little longer and see what happened. When Don got up he was very angry because I didn't call him.  The truth is I don't think I had the strength to call him anyway. I stuck it out a little longer during the day and about mid afternoon I tried again to lay down and rest and hurt worse laying down than sitting up and I gave in to Don to go to the hospital.  The irony is my Medicare will start in just 6 weeks.
Thus started an adventure. The folks in the ER were sweet. I told them I didn't have any insurance and frankly do not have the means to ever pay the the bill in this life time. The folks at Shelby Baptist Medical Center treated my like any other patient. They slapped me on a stretcher and wired me up like the Space Shuttle. I couldn't have run away if I felt like it.  I think they were moinitering everything but my thoughts and they might have been checking those out ~ who knows with that many wires and screens. Of course the vampires decended to draw all my blood out to play with. Then the 'hurry up and wait' began as we waited for all the results to be read, debated, discussed and voted on.  They shot me up with Morphine and I was floating somewhere up in the ceiling tiles watching everything without a whole lot of interest. Just watching. Every 5 min someone would come in a ask how I felt, poke and push a little and go back out. Meanwhile all the screens were shooting out numbers and graphs and such except the only one my husband understood ~ the TV. Believe it or not for a long time the only thing he could get on it was the cartoon channel and I think it was Daffy Duck. Like I said I was floating up in the ceiling tiles.  If I answered any of their question by telling them I hurt even a little bit they stuck that needle back in the IV line and I floated a little higher.
Finally they came in and said the heart Dr (or rather his assistant ) was coming and it was decided to ship me to the floor and admit me. That 'yes sir indeed, Mrs Albrethsen You have had a heart attack and you will be spending some sighnificant bonding time with us.' Those are my words not theirs. LOL but you have laugh a little bit.  And that was the gist of what they said. I slept pretty much the next day except when the vampires came to draw any of my blood they might have missed. I will say this for them one and all they didn't hurt. And of course that nurse kept shooting me up with morphine ~ I asked her if they didn't have something between morphine and an asperine that I could take because to be honest I just don't like floating like that and she said NO we want to keep you a pain free as possible so you won't make the heart attack worse from the stress of hurting. So I floated til Monday morning and I got my guided tour of the cath lab from flat of my back. I know what cath labs look like ~ my brother installs and services them and has for about 20 plus years. I have worked in a hospital and my job was to pick up the cath charts for medical records each nite and I could talk to the guys and got to watch a little of some caths. But let me tell you it is different when you are the patient and they have strapped down to make sure you don't float off. It didn't hurt, they kept giving me a little more Versed every few minutes and finally I lost interest in watching the screen of my heart and closed my eyes. Next thing I knew they were sliding me off the table and on to my bed to go back to my room. Now I have to tell you about the new backboard they used to move me from the bed to the table and from the table to the bed again. Everyone has seen the backboards that paramedics use ~thick and strong ~ well this one was about the thinkness of the plastic cutting board you buy at the dollar stores. It was full size but paper thin.  They took the sheet I was laying on and kinda rolled me up in it and over a little to one side and slid that thing under me and this one guy (that weighed about 170 and looked EXACTLY like Johnny Depp in Pirates etc) pulled a little toward him and I slid over to the table like greased lightening and he kinda pulled the board up and I slid off and I was on that table with NO EFFORT OR STRAINING OR ANYTHING!! on my part. I am not a small woman I weigh well over 250 (only my Dr knows exactly how much) and am 5'7". That board must be teflon coated or something ~ it was slick as glass and as flexible as paper.
Anyway the Docs say I am in pretty good shape to go now and if I take care of myself and stay in touch with the Docs and let them do their thing to keep me going I should keep on going for a while.  They are going to watch the artery that is still 100% blocked and decide later whether to do any thing about it since my body is doing its own patch up by growing capularies around the blockage. I really do feel much much better. I still have a twinge every now and then and when the Doc asked today how I felt, I told him I am going to have to figure out what my NEW NORMAL feeling is. It has been so long since I have times that I didn't hurt at all that it is hard to decide whether a pain means nothing or something.
I received a lot of prayers this week end from my church and family and close friends. I still need prayers. 
The reason I went into so much detail about how I felt before and during the heart attack is women don't have the same pains men do, I mean who would think that pain between your back shoulder blades could mean a heart attack.
I thank God for being with me and guiding my doctors and nurses. May God's blessings be on each of you.
Hugs and Love


Hope Filled Living said...

Oh my goodness Mary. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I'm so happy that you got to the hospital and let them take care of you. How frightening! More women need to share their stories so we know what to look for.
Rest and get well.

Sheila said...

Thank goodness you are okay!! Keep on taking it easy and healing. So glad you are feeling better!

Trisha said...

I am so glad to hear that you survived this whole ordeal! I will keep you in my prayers and hope that you continue to get better. Take care of yourself!


Leaping Frog Design's said...

Hello Mary...As I read thru your post I kept saying to myself..First. Thank God Mary Survived.and I am really blessed that she became one of my new blog followers. And second. Thank you for the details. Women are different..our bodies do not show the exact same signes men do. All of what you said was so helpful. Thank You!! We need to share these things and you did a fantastic job of telling us exactly what happend. Mary I love your blog!! Thank you so much for finding mine today and becoming one of my new blog friends.

GINA said...

Hello Mary... You have a nice blog. I joined thiw so mutch. You did a fantastic job of telling us exactly what happend. From today you are one of my new blog friends.

Linda M. said...

Mary, Praise God! I'll add you to my prayer list that you continue to get better each day. Darn that health insurance. I'm assuming your birthday is coming soon and you'll reach that magic 65 and qualify for medicare. Thank you for your visit and your comments. Thanks for sharing your story, it has me thinking I need to mention a few things to the doctor at my next appointment. Joyous Wishes, Linda

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

Oh Mary ! So glad I checked in. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Take care of yourself.