Carol describes her recovery from heart bypass surgery and her cardiac rehabilitation experience at Banner Heart Hospital.
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Carol: Hi! I am Carol and I am considered a heart survivor and survivor is a good word. And that’s why I try so strongly to get the message out to other women not to do what I did, ignore it, deny it, put it off, just say, “Well, it’s probably this; probably that”. Talk to everybody, “What do you think this could be?” Not a doctor, just my friends, you know, secretaries, friends, you know, “What do you think this could be?” Not the thing to do. You need to address it. Go to your doctor. Go to your primary doctor, have him get a cardiologist for you, look into it, don’t deny it. It’s the greatest gift you can give to yourself is your own life. How Did You Find Out You Had A Heart Problem And Which Symptoms Did You Exhibit? Carol: In 2004, I became a heart patient. Ironically, it started with a pre-call to what I call a gastro guy from my doctor had asked, I had an annual physical and wanted me to have one of things done and he started asking me a lot of questions on, well this is kind of a silly thing to do. One of the questions became, “Have you had any changes in your health or anything you might want to talk about?” Now, that’s really a funny question. So, I started mumbling around and I said, “Well, yeah, I have been having some discomfort and tightness in my chest lately.” And so, he asked more questions and he said, “Well, how often?” I said, “Well, like right now.” He says, “I am not doing anything. You get back to your primary doctor and get this taken care of.” So, that’s where it all began, thanks to him, and eventually, I wound up with a stress test which I failed very badly but in the time from the first doctor to where I had the stress test, I started having really weird symptoms that are not typical of the normal heart attack or heart situation that most people have. One of mine, primarily would start out with like a burning sensation but within seconds I would get hit in the top of the head like somebody hit me with a hammer right on the top of the head. I am like, “Wow! What’s this all about?” And all the medical people after I said that, “You what?” I said, “This is what happens to me.” And I got to where I was actually leaving my front door unlocked and the cell phone by my bed because I didn’t know what was happening. So, I eventually got in for the stress test and told them what was going on and I flunked that immediately. Anyway, a week later, I was with a friend of mine at a bookstore before we were going out to eat and this thing started in again. She got me a couple of aspirin and I said, “Well, maybe just take me home. I’ll go home and put some heat on it,” which is what I had been doing and instead, she drove by the emergency room door to Banner Hospital and stopped the car said, “Get out”. And I did and I wondered in there, I didn’t want to bother anybody and I said, “Well, I flunked the stress test a week ago and I am having a little problem.” They had me in there very quickly and several days later I had a triple bypass. So, to people who ask me about having a heart attack, I say, “No, I did not. I attacked it before it attacked me.” Two years after that, I was feeling great in that two years and two years later, I was in Long Mott with my family and I was standing there and all of a sudden, here comes this again. No, it can’t be; can’t be. About that time, “Bam!” Here came this. So, I finally told my daughter after walking around a store for a couple of hours, we were looking furniture, and I finally told her. So, we decided that I should check into the emergency room and see what’s going on and wound up the next day having the stent replaced, one of the bypasses that had flunked.