of our car balled up in the fetal position,” she said. “I had
nightmares for months.”
Outpatient physical therapy helped Gabby regain some of
her strength and introduced her to other heart patients.
“Everybody’s story is different,” she said. However, a
frightening realization was that some of her fellow patients had
suffered subsequent heart attacks. She experienced two panic
attacks that put her back in the hospital.
For months after her release, she was at a complete loss.
There were so many medications and doctor visits, it was
hard to keep everything straight. “I went into total panic if my
prescriptions were not called in on time,” she said. “For the next
six months I cried at the drop of a hat. No one could give me
answers.” She finally met with a psychologist and a psychiatrist
to grasp what was happening, that such a traumatic event
changes the body’s chemical balance. “I will never really be
the person I was prior to my heart attack,” she said. “Once I
understood that, I have been able to live and function without
the fear of another heart attack.”
Today she remains on several medications and sees a
cardiologist every four months. The stent continues to do its
job. Gabby doesn’t have quite as much stamina as she once
did and has trouble sleeping.
But the most difficult lingering effect of her heart attack has
been coping with depression and anxiety.
“People don’t understand the mental state of having a heart
attack,” she explained. She went through what she calls the
“roller coaster of emotion.”
It took two years to feel normal, and life has changed. “I
don’t ignore warning signs or pains anymore. I make sure I see
my doctors regularly, and I ask questions,” she said. She hopes
other survivors will do the same. “Ask to see the results of your
tests; ask for explanations. That is so important.”
It is also important for women to be educated about
warning signs for heart attack. “My only warning sign was bad
heart burn so I ignored it. I had no idea. I wouldn’t be here
today if I hadn’t had my heart attack walking into the ER. I was
very lucky. I encourage women to take charge of their health.”
Her why? “The entire time I was going through cardiac
arrest I could feel the power of God and my family’s prayers
working,” she said. “My faith and my family are the most
important things in my life. Without them, I would be nothing.”
Everyone has a reason to live
a longer and healthier life.
TELL US YOURS.
Moms united can make a difference.