I’m A Survivor!
I'm a survivor. LeAnn Swiney With this being the American Association Heart disease awareness month I thought share my story..In October 2012 I walked off a plane from Equador after a romantic honeymoon that we Never got.. And walked right into heart failure. My husband and I after 22 years of marriage, three daughters, one that passed away January 1990 from sudden infant death syndrome, and life, finally were able to go on the honeymoon we never got. Why Equador you ask? Equador kinda chose us! In our search to find the perfect place, Equador kept calling to us, We wanted an adventure, to go somewhere no one had ever been before. Equador was amazing. Unbelievably amazing, it was everything we had hoped for and much more.
I was a caregiver for hospice at the time, busy mom, busy wife and probably the most healthiest I had ever been.. Or so I thought. My husband's father had recently passed after a year of caregiving for him, and we ready for our dream vacation. I at the time was a kickboxing gym rat! Just as we were to fly to Equador, I started to notice that my ankles were swelling, which had never happened before, I noticed I was very short of breathe.. Unable to finish my workouts, and more than was normal fatigue.
I chalked it all up to my smoking habit and my crazy busy lifestyle. Although I have to admit, it was in the back of my mind that something wasn't right, there was no way I was going to let anything stop me from my dream vacation. I pushed to the back of mind and off we went. In two weeks we crammed in horseback riding on the beaches of Equador, hiking in the Amazon, whale watching, zip lining, and snorkeling. I was having so much fun that I barely noticed how swollen I was. Or that I couldn't catch my breathe. I promised myself I would see my doctor when I got home.
I never made it home. As I walked of the plane.. I collapsed. I was rushed to the emergency room, where I met an angel. I was angry at my husband for calling an ambulance. I wanted to go home after being away from my girls for two weeks.
I was fine. But I couldn't breathe. I mean I really couldn't catch my breathe. As I pouted, I suddenly stopped breathing. My amazing nurse, who I will refer to as my angel often flew into action and was able to get me breathing again. The doctors seemed to have no clue as to why I couldn't breathe. I spent 3 days quarantined as the doctors ran every single test they could think of, thinking that I may possibly have caught something while we were in Equador.
On Halloween night, as my nurse and a technician that was giving me a breathing treatment, I once again stopped breathing. I was resuscitated and immediately rush to a Echocardiogram, an ultrasound on my heart, showed that I was in heart failure. They found that I had Rhuematic fever that I had caught as a child, after strep throat that never taken care of. Coupled with a heart murmur that the doctors told my mother was no big deal.. My heart valves were being destroyed and we never knew.
I woke up that morning with chaplain and my doctor looking at me with the saddest looks on their face. They told that my heart valves were severely damaged, and that I was suffocating on my own fluids. I was drowning. My doctors put me on a water pill, explained that due to this.. I had pulmonary hypertension, chronic bronchitis, Congestive heart failure, COPD, and that I would need heart valve surgery. A valve job within the next five to ten years and sent me home.
Exactly 8 months later I was rushed into emergency open heart surgery. Unfortunately the doctors had waited to long, and the damage was severe. I face another surgery in the near future. One year later, on September 2014 I went to sleep as myself, and woke up a total stranger. After some routine dental surgery. I was once again rushed to the hospital suffering from a bleeding stroke and brain anyurism, which led to brain surgery due to a blood infection I caught in my mechanical heart valves after my dental surgery. The doctors told my family that if I survived, I would never be the same.
After 3 months of learning how to walk, talk, chew, swallow, read and write, learning everything all over again, kidney failure Due to antibiotics I was on for the blood infection, the Drs were right about one thing. I would never be the same. Today, l I struggle with short term memory loss, right sided weekends and walk with a can or walker. During surgery my cognitive Thinking and filters were damaged, making it difficult for me to understand body language, blurt things out of talk to loudly at inappropriate times. But I'm surviving. Thank you for reading. Ladies, be good to those hearts. Shotness of breathe, nausea, numbness in face or arms, trouble breathing and chest pains are all stroke and heart disease warnings Please do not ignore them When in doubt, call your doctor asap.