by Jennifer Donelan, Crime Beat reporter, WJLA TV, Washington, DC
My heart story begins with someone else’s misery. I was investigating a story about a baby who had passed away the night before and whose young mother felt it had taken city rescue crews too long to arrive.
As I pounded away to get the story ready for the evening news, I felt an enormous amount of stress building within me. I am used to working under high levels of pressure, but this was different. After I nailed down the story and did my live shot, I began to feel a distant pain in the center of my chest. I had no idea what it was.
And then it happened. The pain suddenly worsened. My arm went numb. I started sweating. I turned around and uttered to my co-workers who were standing next to the live truck: “I don’t feel so good.” I asked them to call 911 before falling to my knees. Then from that point forward everything around me began to fade.
The young female cardiologist who examined me at the hospital said: “Your EKG shows that you are having a heart attack. Things are about to happen very quickly.” I had suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection - or SCAD - which had caused me to have a heart attack, and I could have died had I not reached the hospital in time. Two stents were inserted into my blocked artery and I survived.
That was the physical part of my ordeal. As difficult as the physical part was, I was not prepared for the emotional and psychological tsunami that would follow. And that is when WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and its SisterMatch program came into the picture and saved my life for the second time.
Read part 2 of Jennifer Donelan’s story!