On 15th April 2015, I suffered what turned out to be the first of three heart attacks over a period of 12 days caused by Spontaneous Cardio Artery Dissection - SCAD. The first heart attack went completely undiagnosed, the second just 4 days later occurred when I was a long way from home in Liverpool and it was there that the Cardiologists diagnosed SCAD, the third happened 3 days after I returned home, in the middle of the night. It was the worst of the three and a very frightening experience not just for me but also my husband who called the ambulance and followed me to hospital.
The accumulative impact of those 12 days is now very hard to put into words. I was very frightened, very confused, physically very weak and emotionally extremely fragile. And perhaps more than anything I didn’t really understand what had happened or why.
I was very fortunate that one of the Cardiologists I saw in Liverpool was aware of the SCAD Research Project just getting underway in Leicester and suggested I self refer, which I did. Five weeks after my last SCAD I attended my Research day.
The day started with a long conversation with Dr Abi and an opportunity for me to explain how I felt, my fears, my concerns. She then explained exactly what was going to happen during the day. She was very understanding and patient to answer my questions and this really put me at my ease. There was a whole battery of tests from head to toe spread over 5 hours. It was an intense day which I found pretty gruelling and by the time the last test has been completed I was drained both physically and emotionally. However, when my husband and I sat with Dr Abi to review the test results and the end of the day, for the very first time we were able to get some answers to our questions and some reassurances to ease our fears and concerns. When Dr Abi was able to show us the MRI visual on the screen which pinpointed exactly where the dissection had occurred some 7 weeks earlier, and compared it with the one taken that day, we could already see that the flow had been restored indicating that the healing process to repair dissection had already started to occur. She was also able to identify the area of the heart which had been damaged and this was minimal. Dr Abi took the time to clarify anything we didn’t understand first time - there was a lot to take in - she didn’t rush us or set a time when the session finished, she answered every question. When we left both my husband and I felt very reassured, as if a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders. We could start looking forward and not back over our shoulders just in case it was going to happen again. I was exhausted after a very long day but so very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Research Project - that day was integral to my healing process, both physical and emotional and it gave me the confidence to start getting back to normal and finding my old self again.