Self Care is Why

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Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. Periodically, we’ll have survivors, caregivers and others share their “whys.”

By Guest Blogger Kay Storey

 My life before I had my heart attack was very, very busy. I probably would have been labeled a triple type-A kind of person. I had an incredibly busy job, traveled often and helped care for my ailing mother. I never got the rest or time off I needed. I pushed and pushed and pushed. On July 12, 2008, I had my first heart attack. I was 59. Thankfully, due to a persistent and thorough team of physicians and a remarkable ICD, I was given a second chance at life—a re-birthday.

Heart attack wasn’t on my radar. I was healthy, thin and active. Even though my father died at age 39 of a heart attack, I didn’t imagine it could happen to me. But it did.

It was a warm summer night and I had just laid down in bed. I noticed a tiny little tingle in my chest. It wasn’t alarming, just odd. I got out of bed and walked down the hallway. I started sweating profusely and became nauseous. I was having a heart attack. I closed my eyes and woke up in the hospital. I was rushed to the angio lab and a stent was placed in my left coronary artery. There, on the table, my heart went into ventricular fibrillation or V-fib. I had to be shocked six times. But somehow, for some reason, I survived.

Another stent was placed that evening. The next morning, I had another heart attack. I seemed to be teetering on borrowed time. Yet again, another stent was placed. Days later, lying in my hospital bed watching television, my heart stopped beating and went into V-fib again. V-fib causes sudden cardiac arrest and often sudden cardiac death. Thankfully I was in the hospital when it happened. I cheated death once again.

That’s when my care team decided I needed an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). My ICD has allowed me to regain my life. After I left the hospital with my ICD, I knew things had to change. Not because of any limitation of my cardiac device, but because I wanted more than just rushing through life stressed and worried.

Today, I’m a different person. My life is nothing like it was before. It’s a lot calmer. I’m a lot calmer. I don’t rush around like I used to do. I take time to exercise. I go for walks with my dog every day. I am truly enjoying life. I couldn’t do this without my ICD. It’s kept me alive and has changed my life in every way possible.

The one message I would like to get across to people, especially women, is this: take care of YOUR health first. If you don’t take care of your own health, you will not be able to take care of your children, your parents, or anyone else you want to help. This spring, I’m walking in the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Walk. I want to show other people that you can still be healthy and active when you have heart disease. I want to encourage women to take care of themselves, to take time for themselves and to live active, healthy lifestyles.

Learn more about Kay’s story here.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Tell us what your “why” is? Visit Share Your Story

Information and opinions expressed within our Guest Posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the American Heart Association|American Stroke Association; nor does the Association endorse any products or services represented in this blog. In addition, these blogs are not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. The American Heart Association|American Stroke Association recommends you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters.

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