Mathilde, 28 years old

Computer Scientist (Lille, France)

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“I’ve had a heart problem since I was three months old. When I got pregnant last year, I knew things wouldn’t go like they do for other women. My cardiologist informed me of several things. First, my child would come early because my delivery had to be by c-section due to the condition of my heart. If there were complications, I risked having a defibrillator afterwards. I had a fairly smooth pregnancy. i had to be careful not to gain too much weight, not to carry anything, not to allow my legs to swell. In the beginning, I had an appointment every 15 days at University Hospital of Lille’s heart and lung institute, then every week. It was reassuring to know I was being monitored and listened to. My friends and family also looked after me. I held out – well, my heart held out – until the thirty-second week, which was longer than expected. I had a pulmonary edema. I don’t remember much about what happened the rest of the night. My baby and I were in danger for a good part of the night. When I woke up early in the morning, the doctors decided to start delivery. There were at least 15 people in the delivery room (impressive...) for a c-section under general anesthesia. When I woke up, I learned that my son was doing well and that he was in the neonatal intensive care unit. I wasn’t able to see him the first day. My spouse was with him. It was pretty difficult to have become a mother without being able to see him or touch him or even experience the delivery. When the nurses took me to see him in the following days, I felt a mixture of joy and disbelief. My baby stayed in intensive care for a few days. I was also in the same department. Just a week after giving birth, I had to have an operation to have a cardiac defibrillator implanted. When the cardiologists explained what that meant, I cried all night long. I box next to my breast and a probe along my chest. The operation went well. I spent the first day motionless and the second going through post-operative verifications and being discharged. I had pain near the box that disappeared after three months. In the first few months, I couldn’t lay on the side with the box or on my back. One day, I had a shock while holding my son. It was a very strange sensation, like a firework going off inside me. After reviewing the transmitted data, the telecardiologist informed me that it was an “inappropriate” shock due to prolonged pressure on the probe. With the coronavirus, everything has slowed down. Fear and anxiety got a hold of me. I was panicking about the idea of going to bed, about having to go back to the hospital with an edema even though I had a defibrillator, about the different symptoms that I might have. The doctors had talked to me about going to an exercise rehabilitation center. Which I finally did. I went there for 10 days of non-stop bicycling, cardio, hydrotherapy, muscle strengthening and walking. And a carefully controlled, salt-free diet. This helped me feel more confident about doing all kinds of activities. Of course, I always have to watch out for gaining weight, feeling out of breath, feeling tired or swelling. These days, I’ve started to accept the defibrillator. I don’t pay much attention to it anymore. I've gone back to work. I still go walking and exercise like I did at the center. My life is starting to get back on track. I wanted to tell my story on the Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation website to share hope with other women and to show solidarity.”




Charlotte, 26 years old

Student in Paris

“I was at Roissy airport after a long-haul flight. While waiting in the endless customs line, I had trouble moving my left leg. It felt terribly heavy and painful. It was worse than having my leg fall asleep. I had been drinking water and walking often during the eight-hour flight. I figured this [...]



Chantal, 70 years old

There’s a BEFORE and an AFTER. For a number of years, I suffered from an arrhythmia. Despite an electric shock and medications, I was having more and more episodes lasting longer each time. At 68 years of age, I was unable to plan activities, an outing or even accept an invitation because of my [...]



Marie, 59 years old

Administrative Assistant (Paris, France)

Last summer during the heatwave, I had difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, even though walking was my favorite pastime. I lead a healthy life and eat a balanced diet. I decided to see my doctor because of the chronic fatigue and shortness of breath. I was worried about light pain in my arm [...]


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