Heather’s Story: Mom, Runner & Heart Attack Survivor

Heather’s Story: Mom, Runner & Heart Attack Survivor

– On October 11, 2015, my daughter got sick in our bed. We had gotten everything cleaned up, put her back to bed, got the sheets in the washing machine and went back to bed. And then got up at a more decent hour. Came out to the kitchen,
and it was flooded. – We got it cleaned up
and got it all kind of the water cleaned up, and we’re starting to troubleshoot and figure out what exactly was wrong with the washing machine. Turned it back on, and
it started shooting water out the front end. I say, “Oh, whoa, whoa, stop, stop stop.” And Heather, like, jumped and caught herself and started
talking about feeling funny. – I came back out to the living room. I was like, “I’m just gonna sit down. “This was gonna go away. It’s nothing.” Put my feet up. But it just kept getting worse. More like pressure around my chest. Like someone was tightening a corset. It started to radiate down both arms to the point where my hands
started to get tingly. – She got kind of wobbly,
and I grabbed her hand. And her hand was ice cold. And I was like, “Okay, there’s
something not right here.” – In the back of my mind, I thought this is, like, a heart attack. But I was 34, I had been
training for a half marathon, I had two kids. I was healthy, but it
just wouldn’t go away. Finally, I told him yes. Call an ambulance, ’cause I
didn’t know what was going on. – That 10 minutes, you know, it took for them to get there was forever. And when they finally got there, they ran the EKG, and
I saw in their faces. You know, it’s like, and I was, like, oh, oh, no. – It was irregular, and they told me, “Yes, Heather, you’re
having a heart attack.” – And, you know, one
of them said something. “Okay, we’re calling the hospital. “We’re gonna bring her in the paramedics. “And Nick said no. “We need a helicopter here. “We need a helicopter here.”
(helicopter blades whirring) – The whole time, the only thing I could
think about was my kids. They were one and three at the time. And they needed their mommy. (voice breaking) Now I’m 34. I am young, I’m healthy. I can’t be be having a heart attack. That’s not possible. When we got to the Caflod, the doctor came in and told us that I had what was called a spontaneous
coronary artery dissection. There was talk of bypass
surgery right right away, but the cardiologist had talked with another surgeon
that had said, you know, it’d be better if we could wait. – The doctors were always
looking for this ray of hope. You know, okay, maybe
it’s gonna heal itself. Okay, it’s gonna hopefully
itself, and she’s gonna be okay. And the scar tissue is gonna be stronger, and they didn’t to do surgery. So, I remember thinking, okay, you know, we’re not gonna have surgery. We’re gonna heal. And then that didn’t happen. I remember that being really hard. I broke down then. – We did another catheterization. And they found that it had actually occluded farther down the LAD. So the tear was getting worse. The next morning, I went in
for a double bypass surgery. I didn’t really have lots of visitors. (laughs) But the kids came every few days. Bo, he was one. Almost two at the time. He was scared ’cause I
did have a heart monitor on all the time, NIVs. – Eloise was various curious
about what was going on. She still asks, you know, “Daddy, why is mommy’s heart broken?” The question gets easier now. But I remember the first couple
times I heard it, you know, it always got me ’cause I didn’t know. – Even though they had both
had 30 years of experience, I was their first SCAD that either of the cardiologists
or the surgeon had had. It’s not a common problem. This can happen to anyone. And it does mostly happen
to young, healthy woman that are moms and sisters and wives. If I can just share that
story with one other person so that they know, you
know, listen to your body. And know that if something’s
wrong, you need to do something about it. I did the right thing, and
I had my husband call 911. So the doctors, the nurses, they told me that I don’t
know how many times. You know, whatever those EMTs, however they got that helicopter there, thank God they did because I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t. – I’m thankful that our
washing machine exploded and I had to clean up all that water. I really think that if it hadn’t, it could have happened
when she was out running and it wouldn’t be talking
about being a survivor. It would have been much different. – Giving to the American
Heart Association, it goes to research, and that to me is huge just because SCAD and the things that I
had are very uncommon. There’s not a lot of research out there, and that research is
funded by those things. And the more research there is, the more doctors will be aware, and it hopefully won’t happen
to somebody else later. It won’t happen to my daughter. But if it does, doctors will be aware. And recognize it. And more people will live. – There’s lots of people
that owe their lives to the American Heart Association and the research they’ve done, including my wife. And I thank them for that. And doing the donations
really helps that happen, and I thank you from
the bottom of my heart. (soft piano music)

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