In 1990, I was having trouble taking a deep breath of air. That was my complaint. However, this simple complaint was affecting my life. If I had been a man in his mid 40's the doctors would have done a full heart work-up. But, I was a woman. I was diagnosed with asthma. Not one doctor took the time to just squeeze my lower leg... Yes, I was retaining fluid. I had full blown congestive heart failure. I had all the symptoms... They were overlooked because I was a woman. It didn't matter that a variety of inhalers gave me no relief. It didn't matter that I would have energetic days and then sluggish days. In 2004, my heart started beating irregularly. Oh, that's because you're menopausal... All of these doctors knew I had aortic valve stenosis, also referred to as a heart murmur. My left ventrical had been working so hard for so long with a valve that was the size of a pin hole. And yet, the cardiologist, my regular doctor and the asthma doctor told me not to worry. I remember looking that cardiologist in the eye and using my teacher voice said, "There is an elephant sitting on my chest! I can't take a deep breath of air! Are you sure my heart is okay?" He told me I had nothing to worry about. My asthma was just acting up along with the irregular heart beats!!! Can you believe that? Did he do any test for congestive heart failure? NO! I WAS A WOMAN AND WOMEN DON'T GET HEART DISEASE!
I did everything right! I went to doctors and spoke up. I walked in with a list of what should be discussed. I tried to find answers. I even went to a new cardiologist... a woman. Bless her heart, she did diagnose the congestive heart failure. She put me on lasics and my body got rid of that fluid. I was able to take a deep breath. Wow, I loved her. However, she didn't think I needed to have my aortic valve replaced. I'm thinking at the time that I have congestive heart failure with a valve the size of a pin hole trying to get blood out to my body. Wouldn't it be easier on my heart if the valve was replaced? Isn't that just common sense? Shouldn't she be doing something about this? My own GP sent me to a cardiac surgeon for a second opinion. He didn't think I needed surgery yet, but would someday. He was an idiot!!! He didn't even listen to my heart!
Thank God for the internet! I researched everything... valves, medication, surgeons, hospitals... I saved my life that day. That was a Saturday morning. I emailed the head cardio surgeon who had done the most successful surgeries with the latest and greatest valve. That sweet man called me within a few hours and chatted with me. By the following Wednesday, my husband and I traveled the five hours to meet with him. The following Tuesday I had a new valve! He told me later that I was in serious trouble and was a walking time bomb. Besides the valve being bad, the main aorta and aortic arch were shredded and ready to burst! When he walked his residents through the ICU the day after my surgery, he told them I was his "Walk-in miracle" He told them I had saved my own life.
LADIES... DON'T BE A STATISTIC! BE BRAVE! ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS!
DEMAND THE BEST FOR YOUR HEART!
Since going through all that I have become very assertive when health is involved. Recently my Type 2 Diabetic husband was having too many lows. Local doctors thought it was because he was controlling his diet too strictly. I searched on-line for the best endocrinologist I could find at the university/research level. We now have a fabulous doctor who has restructured his meds, and no more lows!
Seek out the very best medical help you can find. Find doctors at major universities and hospitals.
I'm going to close with this one tip...
Email the doctor directly! In the email explain your symptoms and test numbers/details.
Be sure to include your phone number!
You'll bypass the secretary and get in to see the doctor much sooner!
SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE! TREAT YOUR HEART WITH LOVE!
I'm off to play golf and then sew... Have a great day.
Hugs from Mary