“On Wednesday 26 August 2020 I suffered 2 x heart attacks from SCAD. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. It was life changing. I picked up my son from school and chatted to friends. Once home I was working at my desk and I got a very intense heaviness in the middle of my chest, right between my breasts. I thought maybe it was anxiety or indigestion. I had some water, went to the toilet and made a cup of tea. Within 10 mins it was very intense, was radiating into my back between my shoulder blades and my arms were heavy. I told my husband I didn’t feel right and suggested he call the ambulance. I had googled the symptoms and was hoping it wasn’t anything but my instinct told me I needed help. I had started to feel nauseous and clammy. The ambulance came quite quickly and got me in the back within minutes. They connected me to the ECG and told me very calmly that it was my heart and they would send the results directly to the cardiologist at the hospital. He called a few moments later and must have told them to get there quickly! They advised my husband it was cardiac, and he and my son told me they loved me and waved goodbye. I was so calm yet so scared.
The paramedic gave me a tablet to dissolve under my tongue and an aspirin. He was so kind and held my hand the whole way there. He told me it would be a noisy and fast trip!
Upon arrival I was greeted in the ED by a number of nurses and doctors. It was very overwhelming. The cardiologist asked me if I was sure I was having chest pain as I looked extremely well! He then advised me that they would be taking me straight to the lab to perform an angiogram and they may need to put stents in or there could be a need for emergency open heart surgery. I lost it at this point. I was so scared. All of the nurses were so kind and caring and reassuring.
I remember the paramedic wheeling me up to the lab and having to nearly run to keep up with the cardiologist! They kept saying that time was very important.
They got me all set up and got to work on the angiogram through my wrist. I watched the whole procedure on the big TV screen which was quite surreal. Once they inserted the balloon and opened up my artery my heart didn’t click into normal rhythm. They asked me to cough and got the shock machine ready. Lucky a few coughs got it back to normal. Hearing the team work together, measuring the stents and inserting them. I could feel a weird sensation every time they inserted one across my chest.
1 hr and 20mins later they were finished and happy. I had 4 stents in my circumflex artery. I was then told that I had SCAD. Once I was back in the Coronary Care Unit my cardiologist came to see me. He gave me some info on SCAD and said the good news was that all the other arteries looked very healthy.
About 2 hrs later I started to have the same chest pains. I buzzed the nurses 3 times and they quickly took an ECG and within 5 mins I had a team of ‘friends’ surrounding me. 4 doctors, ICU nurse, 2 guys with a defibrillator. Bloods were taken and my cardiologist was called. Apparently this was normal after the procedure I had so they gave me the tablet under my tongue, some morphine for the pain and kept monitoring me. My cardiologist ordered a chest CT scan to check my heart. They also took an ECG every 30 mins. At midnight my friends escorted me to have my CT scan. All was looking good however the ECG had now changed and my cardiologist was on his way in. They were taking me back in for another angiogram at 2am! It was the same team of nurses and I apologized for waking them. This time they went in via the groin. I was so tired but I do remember looking at the screen and seeing a tear in my artery, it was just flapping around. This was a second tear in a different artery. 2 stents were put into my left anterior descending artery. After this procedure the head cardiologist told me I was very unique. It’s a rare condition, I had a large tear in the first artery and then I had a second tear in another artery. He told me I was very lucky. I could have died. What a whirlwind of a day.
I spent 5 nights in the Coronary Care Unit being monitored and had various other scans and blood tests taken. At this stage it doesn’t look like I have any other arteries of concern or FMD. I’ve seen my cardiologist a few times and had a heart echo. There’s no permanent damage which he was very happy about given I had 2 heart attacks.
The first week home wasn’t great with varying pain and discomfort and just being plain scared! I started the cardiac rehab program quite quickly and am working with a psychologist now. I’ve gone off the cholesterol Statin tablet as it was giving me bad side effects of really sore and stiff muscles and joints. I’ve started working with an Exercise Physiologist to get moving again as well.
Today I am feeling good. Well even. I think I will always celebrate life now!”