Creative tailor (Mouscron, France)

Amandine, 34 years old

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I’m the proud mom of Eléa, our little eight-month-old medical miracle who arrived naturally after four years of failure with Medically Assisted Procreation and several failed in vitro fertilization attempts.
I don’t drink. I smoke a little, around a dozen cigarettes per day. I started smoking again after breastfeeding Eléa, but it wasn’t a big deal.
A few years prior, I had lost my father after several heart attacks.
One day, it was really hot and we were spending the day outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. The kids were playing in the little pool we’d set up in the yard to cool off. I thought to myself, “What a marvelous day. I’m so lucky to have my spouse, our daughter, sunshine, family…”
On this August 11, 2020, I didn’t know it yet, but my life was going to change that night.
I’d been exhausted for a few days, but figured since I had an eight-month-old baby and was putting a lot of energy into trying to start my tailoring business, it was normal to be tired.
I had some pain in my left shoulder, but since I'm right handed and was carrying my baby around all the time with my left arm, I figured it was just sore from that.
I’d been having trouble breathing, but didn’t think much of it because I’m asthmatic and allergic to pollen. It was so hot at the time that there was no air movement and we could literally see the pollen floating around. So, it made sense that I was having trouble breathing. But that evening, Ventolin wasn’t working. It was true that when we walked back home after this incredible day, I had to stop and sit down to get my breath back, but I figured I’d be better after a good night’s sleep. It was 1:30 a.m. when my spouse and I got ready for bed. He was worried but I reassured him that I was fine and just needed to sleep. He asked if he should call the paramedics. I told him to relax, that I was just tired. We lay down and then I felt afraid. I was afraid because I’d often heard my dad complain that he felt like a burp was stuck in his throat and wouldn’t come out. And that’s exactly what I was feeling. I was afraid because I didn’t feel well at all when I was laying down. I was afraid because I started to feel my jaw tighten and I knew exactly what that meant. It was my turn… I was having a heart attack at two in the morning. I said, “My love, stay calm please, but something is going on. I want you to call 911, please.” I thought to myself, don’t panic, you’ll be taken in and taken care of and he can stay with the little one. Don’t panic, he needs to be reassured.
He called and I told myself that I’d be taken care of quickly, that everything was fine. I felt reassured. He was telling the dispatcher about my family history and symptoms. He put the call on speaker and I heard her soft voice. I thought, she’ll recognize my symptoms and send the EMTs right away, I'm sure. I was reassured until I heard her say, “But, sir, don’t worry, she’s just having a panic attack.” Oh no! Fear gripped me again.
My spouse spent 20 minutes trying to negotiate with the dispatcher so she would send the EMTs. She kept repeating that it was just a panic attack. I grabbed the phone and asked if she was really sure. Was she prepared to risk her career on this because if she didn’t send the EMTs now and I was really having a heart attack, she was going to lose everything. I had to threaten her to get her to send help. I got angry and felt my chest tighten. I wondered how could things could have come to this.
We were lucky that the station is near our house. By 2:30 a.m., the firefighters had arrived. They asked me to lay down on the couch and explain everything again. I complied. Meanwhile, they attached electrodes and did an ECG, then took two vials of blood.
They also told me that it was nothing more than a panic attack. The ECG didn’t show anything in particular, a blocked artery, but that’s fairly common, they said. That was it for me. I burst into tears and told them that I was sure, that I knew deep down that I was having a heart attack and they had to help me.
At 2:50 a.m., they finally offered to take me to the emergency department and I arrived there around 3:00 a.m.
I was taken to a room, attached to a monitor and left alone. I was terrified. I overheard someone in the office next door say they were sending my blood vials for analysis, but I would be out in two hours. Since when do people not listen to patients anymore?
Time rolled around to 5:10 a.m. Since my arrival, I'd only seen one nurse who’d come to give me a COVID test. Then from the office I heard a sudden movement and a loud voice: “Get an emergency echocardiogram and a second analysis!” A man came into my room and introduced himself as the on-duty emergency physician. They had received my initial results and the cardiac troponins were through the roof. They needed to take my blood again to check. He stuck me and said these analyses should go faster because they were going to stipulate that it was an emergency. He kept talking, but I wasn’t listening any more. I started crying. I had told them what was going on!
An hour later, the second analysis arrived. The rate had almost doubled in three hours. I was in cardiac distress. I was finally sent for a coronary angiography at 10 a.m. and a stent was put in place immediately afterwards. Eighty percent blockage in my left coronary artery. But according to the 911 dispatcher, I was just having a panic attack…




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