From Healthy to Heart Patient

Women’s health is more than breast cancer.

Last spring, I was training for a half-marathon and found myself getting winded very early on during my runs. I’d get short of breath, and my chest and throat would burn until I rested. At first I chalked it up to a lingering cold, but after a few runs I figured I was simply out of shape and needed to suck it up. I tried to power through the next run – after a few minutes I had to turn around, go home and lie down. I started wondering if something was going on with my heart.

A Google search and the Hope Heart Institute website made it pretty clear I needed to see a doctor.

My regular doctor thought I might have exercise-induced asthma, but initial tests didn’t show anything. So she did an EKG, which led to a cardiologist referral. A stress test showed a blockage in my coronary artery.

There’s nothing like a problem with your heart to remind you of your mortality.

The following Monday an angiogram led to the discovery of a blood clot. The location of the clot made a placing a stent difficult, so I was put on blood thinners and beta blockers to help it break down and allow it to be reabsorbed.

Nine months later, I’m doing well. I’ve started running again and tests indicate my heart is healthy, my arteries are clear. I’m still taking some medications and added an aspirin to my daily vitamins. We don’t know what caused the clot, but I’ve got a great team at the Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute keeping an eye on me.

While this was going on I was taking a digital storytelling class at Antioch. The cathartic power of writing a narrative and creating a movie is amazing. The movie’s a bit rough, but it tells my story in more detail.

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