I was a super healthy 50-year-old woman, working, adulting, and living life, that was until July 20, 2022.
On that Wednesday, the 20th, during dinner I became very nauseous. I rushed to the bathroom thinking that I was going to get sick. I passed out in the bathroom. I attributed it to being extremely hot and my seasonal allergies. The same thing happened again the next evening. I again insisted I was fine and just needed to rest. The furthest thing from my mind was that I was in heart failure and would need a heart transplant!
I did, however, promise my husband if the same thing happened the next day, he would take me to the ER. Well, guess what happened? Yes, I started feeling like I was going to pass out again! We went to the ER, on July 22nd. While I was in the ER my heart rate shot up to 305 beats per minute and I needed to be shocked out of that rhythm with defibrillator paddles. Once I was stabilized, I was transferred to Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City. I spent the next few days having test after test ran on me and once a heart biopsy was done, my amazing team of cardiologists confirmed it was Giant Cell Myocarditis, one of the rarest heart conditions possibly known to man. At this point, I was labeled the sickest person in the hospital and my husband was told my heart was only operating at 5% and that I would need a transplant or I would likely not make it another 24-48 hours. Thanks to my rare blood type, (AB), I am considered a universal recipient and able to accept any organ of any blood type. With me being the sickest person in the hospital at the time, by Friday, July 29th, 2022, they had a heart for me, and I had my transplant!
You would think my story would end there, but wait…there’s more! During my transplant surgery there were some complications. Including several blood clots and what was described to me as a rather large blood clot close to my heart! This resulted in me being sedated for almost a week after my surgery. During this time, my muscles went into atrophy. When I woke up, I was so weak that I couldn’t even scratch an itch on my face. Because I was already facing an uphill battle, I remained at Saint Luke’s for almost a month after my surgery then I was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute at Saint Luke’s in Overland Park, KS for an extreme PT and OT program. I basically had to regain strength to roll over in bed, stand and even walk, among other things. This whole time I was bound and determined to be home by my husband’s 50th birthday on October 8th, and I DID IT! I was actually discharged on October 6th, 2022!
My journey taught me several things, but the most important was that it taught me that I was a much stronger person, physically and mentally, then I ever realized! I had never fought so hard in my life and continue to do so as I adjust to my new normal.
Another thing that it taught me was to listen to my body and never ignore what it is trying to tell you. I was very lucky to have made it to the hospital when I did on that 3rd day of symptoms. Never try to rationalize out things such as lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, a fast or irregular heartbeat. Always have them checked out by the professionals in the ER. Never take anything for granted.