Just two weeks ago,

On my way to work I experienced severe shortness of breath. When you have COPD, at the advanced stage that I have you get used to shortness of breath.  It happens frequently and I have learned lots of tips and tricks to keep my oxygen levels between 88 and 92.

When I’m at rest it’s usually just a matter of remembering to breathe and taking long deep breaths while practicing (PLB) Pursed Lip Breathing. 

When I exercise or are exerting myself it becomes a little more complicated but is usually remedied with supplemental oxygen.


This day it was really hard to breathe. I was trying one trick after another, using PLB, exhaling longer than I am inhaling, trying to ground myself, and meditating through it. Nothing was working this time.

I am gasping for air, I am unable to get any air in. My air way is closed. It feels like a clamp is embedded in my throat, like my throat is swollen and closed. Or like I don’t have any space left for the air to go in. My intake of air is hitting a brick wall.

I get very hot, begin to sweat and my heart is pounding like crazy.  I can’t breathe, I can’t get air in. My throat is closed. I have my rescue inhaler in my hand but I can’t get a breath out to get it in.

Panic makes it worse and because it is getting worse it’s making me panic more.  My heart is pounding and I sense I am in some trouble here. Thank God I was not alone. The driver had a radio and called for an ambulance.

This is a true Cardiac Arrest. It is like an electrical plug that can’t reach the socket. The heart gets no juice or electricity. It doesn’t cause any lasting damage but without immediate intervention it cause render you dead.

According to an article on Twitter by Alan Moses for Health Magazine,  “One half of all SCA’s will suffer symptoms a week before the actual event.    Men suffer chest pain, while women suffer shortness of breath.  Less than 10 percent will make it and without intervention,  you will die within 10 minutes of having a SCA.”

Getting Help,  Arriving at Hospital, Threatening to Leave Then Deciding to Stay

Nov 2017

The last two times this happened I was revived by Paramedics after presenting with vital signs absent (VSA.) This was the first time I knew enough to ask for help before I lost consciousness.

Once in the hospital, I had a barrage of tests and after checking and rechecking the bad news comes.

The doctor told me that my enzymes called Troponin were extremely elevated and increasing with each test. He was very concerned because he feels that more negative heart activity is imminent.  He had suggested I stay at least overnight.

I was surrounded by kids and my husband, and  I had no choice but to stay.


According to Wikipedia
Troponin, or the troponin complex, is a complex of three regulatory proteins (troponin Ctroponin I, and troponin T) that is integral to muscle contraction[2] in skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle, but not smooth muscle .


Looking Back

After my first Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), I fought hard to get my life back and I proved it by trying to continue my regular schedule.  After being cared for 6 months and completing Respiratory Rehab I was pretty sure I could conquer the world and I set out to do just that.

I suppose it was a bit of denial on my part. I think we all suffer from denial, especially after the first attack. My family wanted things to be the same as they had been and I was eager to show them how to accomplish that.

Nobody wanted to even think of the reality of what might happen or what my new reality could be. We all just held our breath and waited for the other shoe to fall.

And, fall it did.

I returned to work full-time and denied that anything was wrong. I was intent on doing everything I had done in the past. Soon, I slowly came to the realization that my plan was not going to work out in my favour. About 4 weeks after I returned to work, I had a second SCA.

Doctors from the beginning have been torn between my heart or my lungs being the issue in these SCA’s.  We all know and are aware of my COPD diagnosis but COPD rarely renders you VSA with your heart shutting down. Try as they might, they can find no reason for my heart to stop beating.  Angioplasty is normal as are all heart tests.  No blockages or abnormalities.

It is decided that the problem with my heart is an Electrical issue as opposed to a Plumping issue. After spending another month in the hospital, I finally have an ICD implanted. I am sent home with the comfort that this ICD will save my life by shocking me into a normal rhythm from an Arrhythmia.

Another 4 months go by and I once again return to work and attempt to take on full time hours.

That was not to be.

I very soon have to cut back to a part-time basis. At first I was working my normal morning shift from 8 am to 12 pm. I had a terrible time making it on time every morning.

I asked to be changed to afternoon’s from 1 pm to 5 pm. That shift itself was better because I could sleep in in the morning but then I got home so late the night seemed to disappear.

Either way, it seemed that even this was more stress than I could handle right now.  I had a teaser attack about 6 days before this full blown attack as referenced above.

Now What?

One thing about COPD is, every time I have an SCA my body takes a bashing and my lungs respond in kind. I loose muscle mass and things reverse very quickly.  Everything resets to zero. I have to begin over again with my exercise regiment as if I had never exercised before and build up to my previous endurance. It’s getting harder and harder to bounce  back.

I feel the time has come to make the necessary changes so that I can live my life with some semblance of normality but I just can’t bear giving up my old life. I want to be able to do what I did without suffering these consequences.

After these traumatic experiences in my life, I have come to realize that I need to focus more on self healing.

Like most of us baby boomers, I have worked all my life. Since I was 14 years old I have been gainfully employed.

I am left with more questions than answers.

I am mourning  the life that is slipping away from me but I am not ready to throw in the towel quit yet.

I have to figure out how I will once again reinvent myself and find my purpose.




Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!