Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart

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.

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Stress and Congestive Heart Failure

As a heart patient my doctor often reminds me to avoid stress. He also has me on medications that keep my blood pressure and heart rate nice and low. I usually tease him by saying "Dracula could jump out of the closet and I probably wouldn't flinch because you keep my blood pressure so low."

I am pretty good at keeping my stress under control. I choose my battles and try to avoid conflict.

It's been four years since my heart attack, and while these last few years have been challenging, it wasn't until I received the news about my baby daughter that I realized how hard it is to handle extreme stress with congestive heart failure.

I was pregnant when I had my heart attack. The baby and I survived and when we were released I was told to give her pediatrician a paper that explained all that she had been through, both before and after her delivery. It was a list of medications she was exposed to while I was still pregnant and test that she had to take after she was born.

I gave the form to her pediatrician and I never really thought much of it because she seemed so healthy.

Through the years I noticed some issues, but nothing major. She did seem to fall often, but then again, kids fall. I also noticed that she seemed to have a hard time holding a pencil, but I thought it was because she was on the iPad too often. I always mentioned these concerns at her check-ups, but it was never a big deal.

This year I decided to send her to pre-school. My town has an amazing program that allows the local children to attend full time pre-school within the elementary school, so it was perfect.

Everything seemed to go well, but I noticed grass stains on the knees of her pants every day. I asked the teacher if she was falling a lot and the teacher confirmed that yes, she was, but pre-schoolers fall. Again, no big deal.

A few days later, I saw it. She was standing near me and she relaxed her left leg -- it bowed backwards as if there were no ligiments or tendons holding it in place. My little girl's leg was almost dislocating itself.

Of course I went straight to the doctor's office. By then my blood pressure elevated despite the medication because I had an instant horrible headache. I felt sick to my stomach and my hands and feet were swelling.

The doctor was very comforting and recommended several tests to determine what was wrong. I set up appointments to have the tests performed as soon as possible.

That night I had worked myself up so badly I couldn't sleep because of the coughing from the excess fluid brought on by the extreme stress.

I was awake all night and the next morning I was supposed to take her to her different appointments for testing. I had worked myself up so badly I could hardly breathe. With the help of my family we got all of her tests done, and by the end of that week she was fitted for leg braces which will help to hold her knee in place. It was a bitter sweet moment -- I knew she would feel better with the leg brace because she could play without the leg bending to far backwards, but no one wants to see their baby in leg braces.

The point of my story is simple: Life goes on, with or without heart disease. Although I did have a set back with my symptoms, I made it through this challenge and will likely have to work hard to deal with similar challenges in the future. As a heart patient and as a mother, I need to take care of myself, not just for the sake of my own health and well-being, but for my family's as well. 

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Tags: Learning Limitations

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About the Author

After surviving a heart attack, Nefertari has devoted her life to promoting heart health awareness.

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