I woke up to the sounds of Cameron giggling on April 13th, 2012. Not knowing how I would feel on the one year anniversary of my SCAD and heart attack, I had taken the day off from work. This was a smart decision. The first stop of day was Cameron's one year check up. Weighing in at 21 lbs and measuring 30 inches, he's in the 50th percentile for both. He handled his four shots and one finger prick like a champ. Like me, he loves being picked at and held quite still as the doctor checked his ears and eyes, listened to his heartbeat and lungs and wiggled his joints.
I figured I would drop Cam off for an abbreviated stay at daycare while I wrapped up the final preparations for my Heartiversary happy hour. The universe had different plans for me. Though I had about a zillion errands to run, I found myself driving to the grocery store. I picked up four sandwiches, some sun chips and two thank you cards - and headed to St. Mary's. It was raining, so I sat in my car and wrote out my message on the two cards - one for the ER and one for Cardiac Rehab. I stopped in Rehab first - only one of my nurses was working and it was GREAT to see her. We caught up for a bit and of course, I had to let her get back to her job. My next stop was the ER. After sharing why I was there, I was greeted by three wonderful staff people I'd never met before. And then the day took a rather unexpected turn.
One of the coordinators looked up my procedure and found a list of all the staff that worked on me. And then - she took me back to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab so I could meet them.
Here's the thing - I walked back there and figured I'd have to introduce myself and tell them how goofy I was being, celebrating my Heartiversary in the same place I had my heart attack. They remembered me. And they remembered Brian and Cameron and how their waiting room was full of my worried family. They shared with me how scared they were the day I came in and that no one had ever seen a case like mine before. They told me about the lack of information available and how (as I'd heard from my doctor) that all the studies they could find related to SCAD were autopsies. One staff recalled how quick-to-act my doctor was, making an immediate decision to operate. They asked to see pictures of Cameron and wanted to know how I was feeling. Apparently - and this was a surprise to me - patients don't really come back to say "thank you". So they were floored that I was there and I was floored that they remembered me. I hadn't seen their faces - I was out for most of my cath procedure. Hearing their memories of the day.... well, it gives me goosebumps still.
I made one more stop at the Cardiac ICU - got totally creeped out when I walked past my room and had the chance to thank the nurse that cared for me while I was there (the one who let me sneak Cam in!) At the time of my stay, she had just returned to work and had a four month old at home and definitely understood the new-mama-away-from-her-baby-thing. Finding the right words to thank her was too much, so I cried instead.
It was this conversation that framed my mindset for Heartiversary. Having the chance to spend a few hours celebrating this milestone with family and friends - this is a whole new level of gratitude. I may have survived my heart attack because of the staff at St. Mary's, but I made it through this year with the support and love and friendship and patience of everyone in that room. As much as I wanted to celebrate my survival, I found myself celebrating all of these people who didn't let me lose it this year :) And I think above all, I'm grateful for Cameron - who was breech and didn't let me go into labor and who fills me with hope and excitement as I look to the future. Our future :)
And Thank YOU, reader, for being a part of this with me.