Like Jennifer, I’ve had to make two separate trips to the cardiac cath lab to undergo radial access angio procedures, but my own post-op wound care instructions clearly forgot to include those chainsaw warnings. Just imagine what could have happened had I gone out on my ATV to chop down a bunch of trees with my chainsaw? It could been catastophic. . . if I owned either of those two things. . . and if I could have even lifted a chainsaw at that time.
Another reader known as MEO from the UK had her painful coronary microvascular disease symptoms misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia for three whole years before she was finally appropriately diagnosed. Although there’s nothing remotely funny about that story, I did laugh right out loud at her description of her first visit with a new family physician:
“A change of address led to a new GP who was also dismissive. She questioned the accuracy of my pain perception. I wanted to poke her in the eye to see if she perceived that as painful!”
One of my readers who has taken many ambulance trips to her local ER during her years as a heart patient told me of her unusual strategy for picking out what she plans to wear each day:
“While you are getting dressed in the morning, you consider which clothes you wouldn’t be too upset about having cut off you with scissors by the E.R. staff!”
Speaking of getting dressed, my reader C. McKinney would not go to the E.R. in mid-heart attack until she changed her clothes. Here’s why:
“I was trying on my Dr. Seuss ‘Thing One’ Halloween costume the night of my classic-symptom widowmaker heart attack. But I refused to go to the E.R. until I changed out of my costume, reasoning: ‘They won’t take me seriously wearing this!’”
Meanwhile, a heart patient from Australia lives with heart failure, an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) and familial dilated cardiomyopathy. She tells us this story:
“My husband swears this groggy conversation actually happened while I was in the in the ICU:
- Cardiologist: ”And what brought you to hospital?”
- Me : “An ambulance.”
- Cardiologist : “No, why are you here?”
- Me: “Isn’t this the Hilton?”
- Cardiologist to other cardiologist: “We have a live one here!”
- Me: “Gosh, I hope so. Let’s try and keep it that way.”
When I was at Mayo Clinic in 2008 (attending the WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium for Women With Heart Disease), we were discussing the issue of calling 911 during a heart attack one morning over breakfast (all 45 of us were heart patients, many who had been on more than one emergency ambulance ride to the E.R. over the years). A woman at our table that day was describing experiencing her second heart attack at home, and awaiting the ambulance arrival after her hubby had called 911 for her. Her husband left the room to get their coats, and when he returned, he was alarmed to find his wife gone. He found her in the bathroom, one leg perched up on the toilet seat, shaving her legs! “I can’t go to the E.R. with these hairy legs!!!” she explained. . . (And yes, every female heart patient I know would get that!)
Q: Did anything funny happen to you during your cardiac event?
NOTE FROM CAROLYN: I wrote much more about incidents like these in my book “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease“ (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). You can ask for this book at your local bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from Johns Hopkins University Press (use their code HTWN to save 30% off the list price when you order).
Finding the funny when the diagnosis isn’t
How life’s worst tragedies turn into great speech material
How humour can help – or hurt – your heart attack recovery
Resilience: it’s hard to feel like a victim when you’re laughing
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters