After surviving a rare coronary artery dissection and massive heart attack while nine months pregnant, Nefertari has devoted her life to uplifting other heart patients and promoting heart health awareness.See all posts »
My Trusty Defibrillator
The day I found out I needed a defibrillator was a very scary time. I knew my heart was weak. I could tell by the way I felt that things were getting bad, but I had no idea that my doctor could have suspected congestive heart failure.
My doctor sent me for blood work and when the results came in, her suspicions were confirmed. She explained that my ejection fraction (a scale that doctors use to measure heart function where 50-75 is considered normal) was very low at 17 percent, which meant that my heart wasn't functioning properly. This left me at risk for sudden death.
To help me, my doctors wanted to implant a small device into my chest called a defibrillator. The device would shock me should my heart stop or begin to beat erratically (which is another cause for sudden death).
When I received the phone call, I really didn't fully understand what was being said. I was told to go to Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey where I would be helped by the cardiologist Dr. Melvin White.
I arrived at the hospital very early in the morning. I knew I was having surgery, but I didn't know any of the details. When I was told that I could return home to my five children the very next day, I felt relieved. I figured it couldn't be that bad if they were sending me home so quickly.
I was right--the surgery was quick. When they brought me back to my room I was given a mirror. I could see a square gauze taped to my chest. That area was numb and I couldn't fight my temptation to touch it. I felt it just below my clavical bone. It was hard to the touch. The area was about half the size of an average cell phone.
My initial reaction was shock. This machine was in my body. How will it look? Will it stick out of my shirt? Will it always be numb? I had a million questions.
Most of my questions and concerns were answered by Dr. White (who still takes care of me today!). But he was honest about other answers when saying that only time could tell. When I asked how soon I'd have feeling again in my chest, he explained that it may take some time and he was right. It still feels a little numb in that area almost four years later.
I received my defibrillator five months after my heart attack which meant I had a five month old baby at home. And where do babies like to snuggle most? On Mommy's chest.
This was my biggest challenge. It took time but my baby began to understand that I had a "boo boo" and needed to recover.
Today, I wear my defibrillator with pride. I consider my scar a badge of honor and a testament to the skills my doctor must possess in his abillity to repair my heart. Wow! The whole process is amazing in my eyes! I am thankful for my little life saving machine and to my doctor for keeping me alive every day.
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