Good News. Bad News.
My first inclination I had any problem was in 2006. I passed out in the shower. It was kind of a shocker. I woke up on the floor thinking, “I have a crick in my neck.” I then opened my eyes and realized I was still in the shower. It was scary, but they checked me out at the emergency room and said, “Sometimes people pass out. It’s no big deal.” Two weeks later, I passed out at work. A family friend whose father was a cardiologist said, “You should go see my dad.” He did tons of tests and hooked me up with Dr. Theresa Menendez on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas. She’s fantastic. She told me “Good news, your heart’s really healthy. Bad news, we’re pretty sure it’s electrical but need to actually catch it in the act.”
Fast forward two years. They tried lots of different approaches, and they just couldn’t catch it when I had an episode. So they finally gave me a reveal monitor, which looks like a little flash drive. It’s implanted right under the skin and has a cool little computer. In August 2008, I had another episode where I lost consciousness. I went in the next morning to see Dr. Menendez. She walked in and said, “Well, we finally caught it. Your heart rate dropped to 20 beats a minute, and we’re putting in a pacemaker. Tomorrow. You’re lucky to be alive.” I was really happy and relieved they finally found an answer. So I got a pacemaker, and it’s been fantastic. I’ve felt 100 percent pretty much since, and I haven’t had any problems. It’s amazing they have access to such awesome technology.
At the end of the day, when someone tells you, “You’re lucky to be alive,” it’s a gut check. I started living more in the moment. And I started advocating for women and heart disease, helping them know how important it is to get checked and check numbers and know what the symptoms are for a heart attack and other problems. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that. I hope I can inspire women to keep up with their health because so many don’t know heart disease is the number one killer of women — which is crazy. And why I really try to live in the moment now. I try to be aware of doing things now and not putting them off. I am also more cognizant of my health. I’ve always been a bit of a health and fitness fanatic — very active and always try to eat right. But knowing you need to keep track of your blood pressure, your cholesterol and other health issues, issues that sometimes don’t readily show themselves — that’s key.
In closing, I’d just like to do my rah-rah-rah for Texas Health Dallas, which I truly think is great. I mean, seriously, the nurses are fantastic. What’s really funny is since I was there initially, I’ve been in and out of the cardiac floor at Texas Health Dallas several times, and perhaps because I’m a little younger than the typical patient there, the nurses still remember me. It was like two years later, I came in to have the reveal monitor taken out, and they’re like, “Oh, how are you doing? What’s going on?” They were so wonderful and took such good care of me. To have someone remember you and remember your name — even a couple of years later — that's just amazing service. So that’s really cool. And like I said earlier, I just can’t say enough about Dr. Menendez. She’s just amazing.