Kirsty's Story

Published Wed, 25 Oct 2017 by SCAD Admin

I am a 42 year old gastroenterology nurse specialist, wife to Gary and mum to Millie (8) and Archie (5). I considered myself reasonably fit and well: non smoker, no medication, no risk factors in myself or family.... except perhaps carrying a few pounds too many and enjoyed a glass of wine or two (still do!). I had taken up running in August 2013, ironically to improve my fitness and to lose some excess pounds. I was really enjoying it, totally had the running bug and regularly ran three or four times a week, at least 5k each run.

On Monday 4th November 2013, I was out on a 6.5k run with my running club. I was into my 5th k on a reasonable incline when my chest felt really tight and hot and I was struggling to run. I just thought it was because I was breathing hard and it was really cold that night - minus 1. I carried on running and both my arms felt really heavy and dead, but I excused that as being short of oxygen due to running. I then had to stop at the side of the road to be sick as massive waves of nausea came over me. I tried to walk for a bit but that actually made me feel worse and I just wanted the run finished so just walked/ran the rest of the run.

It would be fair to say I felt dreadful but I didn't want to make a fuss in front of my running friends. I then drove myself home feeling really lightheaded and generally unwell. When I arrived home I told my husband I didn't feel well and took two aspirin (something must have registered somewhere) and an antacid and went to bed. I remember feeling really scared to go to sleep but the next day I wrote it off as a bad dream.

I went to work as normal the next day and then watched the fireworks with the kids that night as it was Guy Fawkes Night. On Wednesday 6th November, I was at work again as normal and decided I would go for a run that night. I did mention to a medical consultant colleague about the incident on the Monday just as point of conversation and he insisted I have an ECG immediately. Fortunately, being in an acute teaching hospital, within ten minutes I had an ECG, fully expecting it to be normal. My ECG was not normal at all and my consultant friend had me admitted immediately for blood tests including troponin. Bloods were elevated and I was transferred to cardiology ward. I was booked for an angiogram the next day and I was so lucky as after chatting with me my consultant cardiologist did say prior to the angio 'I wonder if this is a dissection'. At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. My angio did indeed show a dissection, very distal in the LAD and the decision was made to medically manage this.

Home I went the next day, pretty shell shocked and with a whole load of medications I had administered to others never dreaming I would need to take them at my age! Over that weekend I was re admitted to coronary care unit (CCU) as I had a horrible dragging pain in my chest and shoulder. This was explained as post angio pain as my bloods were ok and ECG and echo were fine. I was discharged home again on the Monday morning.

All fine until Tuesday evening, attending my kids parents evening, as I walked up to the school I had severe crushing central chest pain, I told myself I was panicking and it would pass. I sat through chats with both of the kids teachers feeling awful and as we left the school my husband brought the car to the school gate as walking made my pain worse. We drove home and as things were not easing, I told my husband to call ambulance when we got in. I now had severe chest pain, horrendous nausea and heavy dead feeling arms.

The ambulance arrived and they immediately did ECG and then e-mailed it to CCU who then advised to take me straight to them and the 24 hr angio team were standing waiting for me on my arrival 20 minutes later. The consultant on call for the team that night was my own consultant so that made things really reassuring. Within 10 minutes of arrival in CCU I was in the angio lab. My LAD was completely occluded and dissected and 3 stents were inserted. I have a small area of damage in my heart but I am so lucky that the function is not affected. I spent several more days recovering in CCU then came home.

I am still recovering but I think my ongoing issues are psychological and medication related. I just wish I could feel normal again, however, on reading others stories I realise how fantastic the service I received at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee was and I will always be truly grateful to them all.