‘Little Things’ Mean Much More After Heart Attack

Texas Health Resources is a proud sponsor of the 2014 Go Red for Women campaign. We often share personal stories of several North Texas women who have faced heart disease and the inspiration they have become. If your life has been impacted by heart disease and want to share your story, please contact us.

“I wasn’t aware of any heart problems. Now I know not to ignore the little things.”

Brigette Johns

Brigette Johns

A week prior to my heart attack, I was very tired. Just exhausted. Then, a few days later, I started having this severe headache. By Sunday, my head was still killing me, but I went to church. During the service, my head was pounding, so I grabbed some coffee in the foyer. As I took the last sip, it felt like a knife went into the left side of my breast and I started to vomit.

My parents attend the same church, and they drove me to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth immediately.

In the car, the pain started going up my arm, up into my jaw, then back down the side of my left arm. It was excruciating.

Once at the ER, I went back to trauma, and they gave me an instant blood thinner, nitroglycerin and morphine to handle the pain. On a pain scale, I went from a ten to a two. At the time, I still thought this was caused by my headache, but the doctors informed me that it was a heart attack.

I got to say goodbye to my family before they did a procedure to look for blockage in my heart. I had to be awake for the test, but it was just silent. So I started talking and shared my family’s life story. The doctor knows all about my husband now.

I had great care at Texas Health Fort Worth. I was scared and my doctor looked at me and said, “Do I look scared?” “No,” I said. “Well, if I look scared, then you can get scared. But I’m not scared.” I found it very reassuring.

I spent four days in ICU, still with some chest pain and difficulties. My medications were adjusted and I had to take things easy for about three months. Then I started cardiac rehab. I had to rest and heal because the apex part of my heart died. So during rehab, I was exhausted for a while, until a couple months ago. My doctor said from the tests you would never know I had a heart attack.

It took me about five months before I actually started to feel like my old self again. I felt like a baby during recovery, but my family has been excellent and not allowed me to push myself more than I should. And now I’m feeling much better.

Before my heart attack, I wasn’t aware of any heart problems. But now I know not to ignore the little things. Feeling out of breath, being so tired. I should have pushed a little harder to say something was wrong, and then I might not have had a heart attack. Those are not regular feelings. If I ever had a headache like that again, I’d know what to do.

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