“My name is Mel, I’m now 41yrs old, & 2 years ago… I had a SCAD heart attack. 2 days prior I was in the kitchen & felt this pain in my chest it lasted about 5min I sat down in my lounge room, home alone & I didn’t think it could be a heart attack I was only 39 & healthy, so I’d convinced myself that it was an anxiety/panic attack, afterwards I felt an overwhelming despair & began to cry, I didn’t think for a minute it was the first stages of a heart attack, then 2 days later I was having a shower getting ready for work when I felt this pain in the middle of my back, I knew something was wrong, I’d never felt this pain before & it just wasn’t going away it started in my back then went through to my chest, so I got out of the shower got dressed & I told my husband something is wrong I don’t feel. Well, I have this pain in my back & its going through me to my chest it was weird to explain, he asked me a few questions then all of a sudden I felt nauseous & like I was going to vomit, & I felt clamy & then my left arm started to hurt, I didn’t know what was going on, I was trying not to panic, or be over dramatic & my husband called an ambulance & they said to sit comfortably & dont move, an ambulance was on it’s way.
I sat on our bed, crying, trying not to panic as my 5year old daughter was sitting next to me, asking if I was ok, I didn’t want to scare her & she was rubbing my back telling me it was ok, I even got a favourite toy to cuddle.
The ambulance arrived & they put ECG sensors on me & said that something was going on but they weren’t sure & it was best I go to the hospital, I was terrified & I still didn’t think I could be having a heart attack, i was internally panicking trying not to freak out my family I was trying to stay calm, I packed my bag & got into the ambulance.
We sat there for a minute while they hooked me up to the monitors & said they were taking me to Blacktown hospital, I said ok, then a minute or so later they said “honey you need to go to Westmead & there’s a specialist team that’s gonna ride with you & take you there, I didn’t know what was happening, I said can you tell my husband, & then a new paramedic arrived & said she’d take care of me, the pain was still there, so she gave me a tablet to put under my tongue, I ended up having about 5 of them later I found out they helped to open my blood vessels.
We started off to the hospital & I was beside myself, the paramedic was asking me all sorts of questions & then I asked “am I going to die, she told me no & held my hand, I said I can’t die my daughter just turned 5 & she needs me, please dont let me die, she told me my heart was having a hissy fit & that I was in good hands it still didn’t hit me that I was having a heart attack.
We got to Westmead hospital, & in emergency they told me I was going to have an angiogram & was I allergic to contrast, I didn’t know so I said call my mum she’ll know for sure, that’s when the nurse said “your daughter is having a heart attack we need to know if she’s allergic to anything, I couldn’t believe it, I said ‘what im having a heart attack’, the nurse apologised she thought I knew, maybe deep down I did, but I was thinking about my family & how I didn’t want to leave them, that’s all I was worried about. I went up to theatre for my angiogram where a catheter was put into my arm up to my heart, it hurt a little but I just couldn’t comprehend what was going on, it was too much & too much was going on in my brain.
I spent 6 days in hospital, 2 days in the cardiac unit then in recovery, I was on pain killers for the first 2 days, the pain was considerably less the next day but still a dull ache, I had lovely nurses, but it was hard not having any visitors due to COVID, my husband called to seek approval for visits the day the ambulance came & was denied visits, it was also the first time I’d ever been away from my daughter, so it was very hard on her, so I spent the week looking at pictures in my wallet from my daughter, photos & videos on my phone & on video calls to my family telling them how much I loved them & that everything will be ok, so that if I did die, they’d remember & know how much I loved them, it’s hard thinking of a lifetimes worth of conversations & loving words to say in a week when your not sure if you’ll get that lifetime to say them, luckily & gratefully, I had no permanent heart damage & my cardiologist explained to me I’d had a SCAD heart attack which isn’t like a normal heart attack & will heal on its own, he said, we aren’t sure what causes it, & it mostly affects young women, I was put on a few medications, which I still take & I have an annual echocardiogram which still makes me nervous but two years on & all is good, it’s taken me awhile to recover from the fear of it all & the emotional & mental repercussions of my SCAD event, I was terrified of overdoing it & hyper aware of any little ache, twinge, pain in my chest, I still am but the anxiety has subsided, cardiac rehab was done over the phone again because of COVID but that helped, I had an amazing GP & the support of my family.
Two years on & I’m back at work & moving past it, although it still sits in the back of my mind, but dosent stop me from living my life now, I’m so grateful that I’m here & alive.”