healthy and 29 years old with heart failure?!?!
On February 9th, 2015, my beautiful baby boy was born! It was my first pregnancy and everything about it was perfect! I was in hard labor for almost 24 hours and eventually had to have an emergency C-section. I became very swollen after the surgery, but was told by the Doctors and Nurses that it was normal and it would probably get a bit worse. I was discharged after two days and I was so happy to be going home with my husband and perfect new baby.
Once I was home I became more and more swollen, I was bigger and weighed more than I did before I gave birth. When I would try to lay down to go to sleep I was struggling to breathe and felt a heaviness on my chest. So I propped myself up and figured it was still all because of the c-section surgery. When I woke up in the morning I felt okay and carried on like nothing was wrong. The next night I had the same problem, but it felt even worse. I thought maybe it was anxiety and I was having panic attacks. My mother came over to watch the baby while my husband took me to the hospital to have it checked out.
The Doctor working in the emergency that evening sent me for an X-ray and came back to tell me I had pneumonia or a blood clot in my lungs. But I had pneumonia a month or so before I got pregnant and did not feel the same at all. So they looked at my previous X-ray and compared the two, realizing this was not similar AT ALL! All of a sudden my heart rate started going crazy, and the doctor and nurses told me I was being transferred to another city hospital....I was rushed by ambulance to the next hospital and was still so confused with what was happening, when I arrived at emergency things started to get really scary, really fast.
A doctor came in and pulled my husband aside, I could see my husband starting to tear up and I knew something bad was happening. The doctor came in and told me my heart was failing and they werent sure why, but to try and "hang in there" because they were sending in a Cardiologist from Vancouver to see me. They hooked me up to the IV and gave me diuretic (lasix) and started doing blood tests and sent me for an echocardiogram. My ejection fraction was at 20%. I was moved from emergency to the cardiac care unit. I remember staring at the blank white walls, surrounded by doctors, my mother and mother inlaw and holding my husbands hand so tightly. No one said much, my family was crying and I thought I was dying. I was so scared, and I just wanted to hold my baby. After a few blurry hours the cardiologist told my husband that they wanted to send me to St. Pauls Hospital in Vancouver because they had the top cardiologists and heart clinic...but they werent sure if I would make it there. They finally made the decison to rush me there and my family followed.
I was admitted to the Intesive Cardiac Care Unit at St Pauls Hospital on February 16th, 2015. As soon as I was admitted I remember being surrounded by doctors and nurses, I was hooked up to all sorts of machines and my immediate family started arriving. Finally after a few hours a doctor came and started talking to my family and I about PPCM, but said they werent sure if that was what was causing the heart failure. He started talking about transplants, and mechanical stuff and said because I was so young and a new mother that I was a candidate. I just remember thinking...."holy shit, I was a super healthy 29 year old and now I have heart failure?!?!?!"
I spent over a week in the intesive care unit, they did a week of testing and monitoring and I was started on medications. Then they decided I was stable enough to be moved out of intesive care and I was transferred to the cardiac unit. They did an angiogram and I had zero blockages, they did a heart biopsy and it came back clear. They did an MRI and it showed some tissue damage...but not enough to be considered scar tissue. I was tested for a rare cancer, everything kept coming back clear and negative.....but because of the MRI and the tissue damage some of the doctors didn't agree that it was PPCM. I remember feeling so discouraged and so confused, I was scared and soooooo sad. I just wanted to be home with my new little family. One morning a new group of doctors came in, they were the electrical doctors. They told me I was having dangerous heartbeats while I was sleeping and they were thinking of putting in an Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator...I really broke down this time. Was I ever going to be home with my baby? I was put on the list for the ICD and was told once it was in then I could go home.
After three weeks in the hospital I was finally able to go home to my baby and husband. It has now been four months since this all happened, and I have no idea what is going on with my heart. I still have not been oficially "diagnosed"...they said only time will tell, depending on how and if my heart starts to heal...and by ruling out other possibilities. I have not had another echo to see what my ejection fraction is at and my team of cardiolosit at the heart function clinic have said they wont do one for another 5 or 6 months. I am on the "perfect" medication cocktail for heart failure....beta blockers, ace inhibitors, dijoxin, and spironalactone....I FEEL GREAT!!! sometimes Ialmost feel like nothing ever happened, but then sometimes i get paranoid that i am getting worse and could die at any minute. But I am so happy to be home with my baby and cherish every minute I have with him....it breaks my heart knowing I missed the first weeks of his life and all those special bonding moments, and because I was told that it it not wise to have another pregnancy....I feel an unexplainable sadness .... but everything is perfect now. I am right where I belong.