I had a rare type of heart attack nearly four years ago.
Other than chest pain, I had no symptoms and no risk factors. Sure, I was a few pounds over the ideal weight for my height, but it wasn’t to the point of risk for heart disease. Not because I’m special, but because I participated in activities that addressed the disease risks. I registered for races and used my training as my exercise and the exercise lowered my risks.
But in December of 2013, I had a heart attack named SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection).
I walked around all day with chest pain. I visited doctors in the morning and all their tests came back normal. I apologized for the interruption, thinking I wasted everyone’s time, and got set to leave. The doctor I saw in place of my primary physician suggested one more test – a blood test. Hating needles, I reluctantly agreed to let them stick me. Always a talker, I convinced the doctor to let me go home to await the results, figuring they’d be normal like all the others.
Truth was, I was feeling a bit foolish, plus I left home that morning rushing and hadn’t showered. (Deep down, I knew the time limit on the previous day’s shower was almost up.) Besides that, my pooch was home alone and I was anxious to get back to him.
I staggered down the street to the ATM to get car fare back home.
Later that afternoon, the pain subsided as long as I was still. I finished out my work day at my computer and decided to walk Hershey and take a nap. I know now, that may have been my last nap.
The fact was, something was happening in my body, specifically my heart, to destroy it. But only my blood – the life source of my heart – could tell the story.
The blood test is why the doctor called and told me to get to the emergency room.
The blood test is why they took me into the triage area before others who’d been waiting longer.
The blood test provoked further tests, some of which were as inconclusive as the ones that morning. However, the blood test wouldn’t let them send me home.
The blood test is how I ended up in ICU and why I received specialized treatment and went home two days later.
My story had a happy ending only after I had a blood test that signaled something dangerous happening in my heart.
When’s the last time you had a blood test? A test that allows people caring for you to see what’s happening in your heart? Sure, everything looks fine on the outside and despite some pain and staggering, you can function. However, if you don’t get properly triaged and treated, you’re risking death or irreparable damage.
If you think you may have a heart condition, don’t let your fear of needles – becoming vulnerable – prolong your care. Get a blood test.