Patient Stories

Surviving the Widow-Maker

December 3, 2009
CHI Health

Author:

Surviving the Widow-Maker

I had a heart attack on October 25, 2008. It started suddenly with pain in both elbows and no other symptoms at 7 p.m. By 7:15 p.m. I started to go into shock. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew I needed help. In 5 minutes I was at Lakeside ER. The doctor who saved my life asked me several questions, did an EKG and chest X-ray. I never had chest pain, shortness of breath or any other classical symptoms. I lost consciousness. When I regained consciousness a half hour later, I was surrounded by two doctors and several nurses all of whom were grinning from ear to ear.

The doctor told me I had survived a “widow maker” heart attack, 82% of people do not. I was told that I had gone into full cardiac arrest. The ER team had resorted to chest compressions and 5 defibrillation shocks to get me restarted.  I was moved to the cath lab where a stent was placed and by 9:30 p.m. I was moved to my intensive care hospital room. My wife and children visited me briefly.

All three nurses who cared for me during the night came in before they left at the end of their shift to rub my head for good luck. They, and my cardiologist Dr. Stephen O’Connor, who introduced himself Sunday morning, said I was lucky to be alive. I still disagree that it was luck – I think it was the excellent professional care I received and a lot of prayer!

After two days I was sent home to recuperate. I attended cardiac rehab for 6 weeks which allowed me to eventually return to work and heal virtually completely.

I am convinced the care I received not only saved my life, but has allowed me to return to a full productive life. My wife and children think so, too!
-Paul

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