Heart Scare “Gets Real” for the Dr Newton’s Family

Amidst the most horrible circumstances life can throw at you can come a rebirth of sorts. A new beginning.

All too often, we take everyone in our lives for granted.  Recently, this all too often buried awareness rose to the surface for us here at Dr. Newton’s as the reality of heart disease affected one of our own.

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around in it, let it slide like coins through your fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.” – Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

Our Melissa is no stranger to life transition and ambiguity.  As a woman in her mid-50’s she’s seen life at its high and low points many times and has always had the ability to see the beauty in all of those experiences. She strives to be her “best-self” and sees every circumstance as an opportunity to learn and grow.

As a co-worker, she’s one of a kind. Greeting everyone at Dr. Newton’s with kindness and sincerity daily regardless of her mood, she knows how to project empathy and is willing to help whenever it’s needed. Even on her free time and weekends she’s always offering to bring a salad to a BBQ or help someone move.

So it’s no surprise that when she was out on a date, embracing all the fun life has to offer and expressing it through dance, she thought of the person she was with before herself when she began to feel the symptoms of her myocardial infarction, or minor heart episode.

In her words, “I just couldn’t get air. I’d been dancing a lot and I just couldn’t catch my breath!” Her concerned, NEW boyfriend, who had been through a heart issue of his own, took her pulse – and with her heart rate elevated over 100 b.p.m. over a period of 45 minutes, he pushed her to go to the emergency room – despite her insistence to NOT go and “ruin his night.”

Upon arriving at the ER, she was put on an IV for minor dehydration and given an E.K.G. that came back irregular.  Ordered into a sonogram where they discovered 1/3 of her heart wasn’t functioning properly then prompted by her doctor and boyfriend to have an angiogram. And it’s a good thing they did.

The angiogram uncovered a 70% blockage in a posterolateral artery. So after some prep time and rest they brought Melissa into surgery. They went through her femoral artery in her thigh to put in a “stent”. For those who don’t know, a stent is a small, mesh-like device made of metal. When a stent is placed inside of a coronary artery, it acts as a support or scaffold, keeping the vessel open. By keeping the vessel open, the stent helps to improve blood flow to the heart muscle and reduce the pain of angina. Melissa was awake for the procedure and the doctor warned her that the placement of the stint would feel similar to having a heart attack. And boy did it ever!

Post event, her life is forever changed. She will be on a statin drug for the rest of her life and will need to take CoQ10 to replenish her body of this essential co-enzyme that most statin drugs deplete. She will need to be better about her diet, take Omega-3’s, go to rehabilitation and make exercise a priority.

As for Melissa, she sees all this as a gift like she does everything else. Thankful it wasn’t more serious, thankful this happened – forcing her to think differently about where she is in her life.  Her charismatic personality and positive outlook will continue to permeate the walls here at Dr. Newton’s for a long time and for this – I think I speak for everyone here at Dr Newton’s – I am grateful that she was pulled by her baby neck hairs to the ER that night.

More importantly, what would have happened had she not been “forced” to put other people’s feelings aside to put her health first – what would have happened had she NOT gone to the ER that night? Had she not been with someone who had been through a heart issue of his own, would she have gone to the ER or would it have passed until the next time – when it could have been more serious?

What “unknowns” lie ahead for you that will remind you to experience gratefulness?  Don’t wait. Take care of yourself from the inside out.