I didn’t want to ignore the symptoms.
I remember sitting at my desk when my left arm went numb. I knew that the symptoms for a heart attack were different for women than men, but I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I’m not really an alarmist, but I didn’t want to ignore something that might be wrong, so I went to the emergency room. After examining me the doctor asked who my cardiologist was. I said, “I didn’t have one” and he said, “You do now.”
Turns out I had an irregular heartbeat. To be more specific, a micro valve prolapse. I probably had it all my life and didn’t even know it. The doctor said I’d need to have surgery at some point in my life. That turned out to be 5 years later.
It was a long road to recovery, but the cardiac rehab staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital was there for me. The people were very professional and caring. It was such an uplifting experience. The nurses, exercise trainers and volunteers were genuinely concerned with my health and helping me get better. They set me up with a daily routine of walking, exercising, and stretching. Before I’d start, the nurses would take my blood pressure so I felt like I had a safety net. There’s a comfort to having nurses around after you’ve had a serious heart procedure. Each day I was exhausted, but couldn’t wait to go back.
At the end of my rehab, I was a whole new person. I wanted to give something back so I signed up to be a cardiac rehab volunteer. It’s been a wonderful experience. Every cardiac rehab volunteer has gone through some type of heart procedure. So we can relate to the patient and their family. One of the things I enjoy most is getting to know the patients and their families. I see people who arrive in wheelchairs and by the time they leave, they have a skip in their walk. It’s just a very, very happy place. They truly made a difference in my life. Now I’m making a difference in the lives of others.