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"I Didn't Know I Had a Heart Attack"

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I Didn't Fit the Profile of a Heart Disease Patient

Alarmed, I called a friend who's a cardiac nurse, and she assured me that it was probably the flu or indigestion. "Sharon, you simply don't fit the profile of a heart disease patient," she told me. "Don't worry! Go back to bed!" So that's what I did. But the next morning, I still didn't feel right. I called my doctor, who agreed to see me that day. She too thought I was having a bad case of heartburn. But, to be safe, she volunteered to give me an electrocardiogram (EKG).

I remember her looking at the results, confused. "The nurse is new; she must have done this wrong," she said. But a repeat test was nearly identical to the first. "The results are abnormal," she told me. "I'm sending you to the hospital for more complex heart tests." Since I was actually feeling better, I got in the car and drove myself to the ER. My doctor volunteered to phone Hugh while I called my mother to pick up the kids. I actually stopped the car on the way to argue with my mom. She was startled when I told her I'd had an EKG. "That means you had a heart attack!" she yelled. I bellowed right back, "No, you're wrong!"

At the emergency room, denial still reigned. As a nurse gave me my third EKG of the day and took a blood sample, he said, "It's probably indigestion." After all, my blood pressure was normal, my symptoms were mostly gone, and I was able to walk and talk. So I was floored when a few minutes later a cardiologist appeared at my bedside, telling me that I'd had a heart attack.

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