My Story Part III
July 14, 2017
June 4, 2016 (Back Then)
The lessons started in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy while I was in Resp Rehab but I didn’t fully grasp the concept of it. My daughter, who is my savior, encouraged me and reminded me to be mindful of my actions and my environment as a means of returning to life.
She had been teaching me Mindfulness to manage stress, encouraging me to journal, to meditate, to stay in the moment and enjoy the moment as it is without trying to change it.
When I walk around the block every day, I am not reading or listening to music but being Mindful. I am mindful of the flowers and the trees, mindful of the cracks in the sidewalk, of the sights, sounds and the smells. I was drinking it all in and enjoying my new-found mindful freedom. I walked and walked like Forest Gump had run. I was feeling encouraged and grateful. I was grateful for life, for the family that is supporting me to get better and to return to them. Mindfulness helped me to return to the same life although now with a few restrictions.
That morning I had walked my usual mile around the block and talked to a few neighbours, who hadn’t seen me since my cardiac event. I sat in my walker and watched my husband gardening. Then I came in to lie down for a few minutes to get ready for the evening. I was very excited to be back to the land of the living as I was resuming activities I used to take for granted. Since I had vowed to start leaving the house socially, this weekend would be Cocktails and Canvas with the girls.
I was just about ready to go and I began to feel a pulse in my neck. It continued and I started feeling palpitations in my chest and I called my daughter. She asked me if I felt like I needed an ambulance and I said no, let’s wait, I so did not want it to be that again. My heart rate was increasing and I didn’t know how to control it, so I agreed to have her call and get the paramedics to check it out. And a good thing I did because by the time the paramedics got here I was, once again, vital signs absent.
Bam, I was right back in ICU. I woke to intubation. It was not nice. I felt like it was Groundhog Day. It happened again at the same place, in my kitchen. I had been saved a second time, as I would find out later; by the same paramedic team. I really do thank God for them every day; however, this time when I woke I was a little less grateful. I’m not totally ungrateful but really….. Is this going to keep happening every 6 months?
As I became conscious, and before I lost my mind, I started to use the lessons from Mindfulness and it got me through that first night. I wasn’t thinking about the future or about what happened but of my walks and the sights and sound and smell that I love. I can feel every crack and bump in the sidewalk as if I was right there. Thank God for Mindfulness and for the calming voice of my daughter that I heard playing over and over again in my head. It saved my sanity that night.
I wasn’t put into a coma this time and was conscious in about 8 hours. But it was a long night and I had a tube in so I couldn’t communicate. The nurse came to see and said my family had just left. Damn, my daughter would make them take the tube out, but she just left. Relax, go for a walk in your mind and tomorrow will come soon enough. Thank God that nurse gave me a sedative to help my drift off until daylight.
When I woke my family was there, and the tube was removed. I was transferred that day to the step down ward and then to a real ward. Doctors had not clued into what to do with me. For now I was on Telemetry and they could monitor my heart.
One doctor who was a cardio specialist came in to visit me and told me this attack was my fault for not using oxygen. I told him I was not prescribed oxygen but I had been on and off of it earlier in the year. He said he was not prepared to do anything for me. My daughter was there and that’s when the fight began. From the days of my first admission I had kept in touch with one of the ICU nurses and so I contacted her and asked for her advice on how to proceed.
It wasn’t easy because I wasn’t in a fighting mood but fight I did to see another Cardio doctor. I had the staff doctor talk to the paramedics and they, thankfully told them what had happened before they could get a strip to prove it. My daughter fought with me and I finally was granted an audience with a top specialist. He said that he would set me up an MRI of my heart and then he and his team would go over the results to see if they could do anything to help me find a solution. It sounded encouraging but I was so claustrophobic that I had a hard time thinking of being in the MRI. Mindfulness came into play once again.
After a 3 week wait and still a guest at that hospital I finally got my answer. The Cardio team would be willing to implant
an Implantable Cardio Defibrillator (ICD) with a pacer.
The ICD would offset any further SCA’s and allow me to continue fighting the good fight with COPD. Doctors did not know how or if the two were connected but they did know that I had stage 3 COPD and was treating me for that.
Once the decision was made the surgery was scheduled pretty quickly and I was transferred to another hospital to have the surgery. I was expected to be discharged that same day.
However,being very drug sensitive Beta Blockers had a double effect on me so ended up with no heartbeat and I spent another two days in hospital.
I would end up spending the total of one month in hospital I was OK and on the path to healing and I was very happy to be coming home once more.