Sharing a story from the heart is powerful. Hearing survival stories from women living with heart disease make the facts and figures we read come to life. Mia Albert, account liaison for Heartland Hospice serving North Central Indiana, shares her story to help educate women on risk and what to look for in case of a heart attack:
“I went to the ER for nausea, vomiting and pain between my shoulder blades. I thought I was having a gallbladder attack, but imaging showed my gallbladder looked fine. They did end up finding a kidney stone, so I was sent to a urologist who said he didn’t know what was going on with my symptoms but that it wasn’t a kidney stone.
Three days after I was released from the hospital with no real answer to my symptoms, I was back in the ER with excruciating neck and jaw pain. My EKG was normal, but when they drew cardiac indicators, my troponin was elevated which pointed them to the suspicion of a heart attack. They did a cardiac catheterization and not only confirmed I had a heart attack, but that I had multiple arteries that would require bypasses.
Unfortunately, this all happened in April 2020 and COVID-19 restrictions were very heavy. I waited two days in the hospital alone for my open heart surgery. My husband could come in for one hour before the surgery and got to wait for updates during surgery. But I spent the rest of my hospital stay without any friends and family. I was very fortunate to have many staff members who had heard my story through mutual friends. They came in my room to visit and pass along their support and prayers. A good friend of ours is a runner and he would run laps around the hospital and wave to me through my window as he passed by. I returned home a few days later after surgery where my husband, son and family took care of me. We were lucky enough to have meals delivered to our porch from our friends and church family.
To me, it is very important to share my story, especially with other women. When I saw the statistic that women are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed when having a heart attack, I had this urgency to share everything I went through. I’m doing this for every woman who was ever told her life-threatening heart condition was stress, anxiety, her weight or all in her head. As women, and especially for myself as a mother, we tend to get so busy taking care of others that we don’t always recognize when we need cared for. We definitely have to advocate for ourselves, too. My story is the same story as too many other women and it IS costing us our lives.”