Today is 'Wear Red Day', a day to support the fight against heart disease in women by wearing red. This year, this day has a new meaning for me.
This past November (the day before my birthday), I went out for my usual 4 mile walk. It was a windy day and I was walking into the wind for the first mile, when I started having bad chest pains. I thought maybe it was just from walking into the wind, so I pushed through and finished my walk. The pain in my chest eased up a bit, but never really went away.
The next day, a Sunday, was my 44th birthday and we celebrated by taking a walk around Lake Harriet in the beautiful 60 degree weather and went out for a family dinner that evening. I was still having chest pains and told myself that if I was still having them the next day I would go into Urgent Care. (Really dumb, I know, but I didn't want to ruin my birthday by spending it at the doctor.)
Monday morning arrived and I was feeling a bit better, maybe just a twinge of chest pain. After getting everyone off to school and work, I headed over to Lifetime and worked out on the elliptical for an hour and then came home and jumped in the shower. This is when I started really not feeling well. My chest was really hurting and I started shaking uncontrollably. I was afraid I was going to fall so I sat down and called Pete at work. He was at a client's site but came home and took me to urgent care.
Urgent care ran a bunch of tests: EKG, blood sugar... which all came back normal. My blood pressure was high, but it has been consistently 'borderline high' for the past few years. The doctor thought it would be a good idea to go to the ER to get looked at further given my family history of heart disease. After hours at the ER and many more tests, they still couldn't find a reason for my chest pains. Frustrating but the good news was that there was no signs of a heart attack.
ER scheduled me for a stress test for that Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). The day of the test I was not nervous at all because after all of the other tests done I thought this test would come back normal as well. I started the test by having an echocardiogram (sonogram of the heart) and they immediately paused the test and brought in a doctor. The Dr. looked at the images and told me that my heart appeared to be enlarged. He wanted me to continue with the stress test and would talk to me after about the results.
I was told I have cardiomyopathy which is a weakening of the heart muscle, my heart is enlarged and it can't pump as well as it should. I have been put on 3 different medications, am having some more tests done and am regularly see my cardiologist. Other than fatigue and very low energy, I have been feeling really pretty good as I continue to process my diagnosis.