My Heart is Broken

It is New Year’s Eve, 2019. I’m at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and have just gotten diagnosed with the flu.

I’m not here because of the flu; I am here because I have a mass in my heart and a carotid artery that is 90% blocked. My heart really is broken.

Two days after Christmas (which was nice despite the thought of it possibly being my last one), I received a call from my doctor telling me that I had to go to the ER stat. He had sent me for an MRI of my brain on December 26th as a precautionary measure due to the weeklong series of migraines that I experienced earlier in the month after my latest surgery to remove the tumor in my back. At the time, I had thought the migraines were possibly a reaction to the recent surgery and medications that I was prescribed.

My doctor assured me that there was probably nothing to worry about but given my medical history, he thought it would be wise to err on the side of caution.

The MRI report showed that I had suffered two strokes. I didn’t believe the doctor, I told him that I felt fine but he kept insisting that I had to go to the hospital while I kept insisting that I wasn’t going to go. Something had to be wrong, I felt fine; I even managed to exercise that morning. I defied him by repeatedly telling him no, no, no!!! That’s when I lost it; I hung up and I started screaming through my tears, no more, no more! I can’t do this anymore…how much more can I take?

I went as instructed to the emergency room at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ along with my husband and two sons. I didn’t even pack my phone charger or clothes; there must be some mistake. There is no way that I had two strokes; I feel fine!

I was there for four days as they performed various tests including a very unpleasant TEE (trans esophageal echocardiogram). That was when I learned about the mass. Since this is not a common occurrence, they told me that they needed to send me to another hospital where they can perform a cardiac MRI along with other tests.

I was transported by ambulance yesterday to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. It was the longest, loneliest and scariest ride of my life.

There are more tests that will have to be performed before we know anything for sure. They don’t know if they can operate, so they have to see about possibly radiating my heart. I was informed that if they operate, it will take a long time to recover. I’m so afraid of having heart surgery.

I hate seeing my family suffer. I’m just trying to prepare myself mentally and hang on to my faith. That’s all I can do.

After everything that I went through in 2019; all that I lost, losing my mother and brother, and having surgery after surgery practically bi-monthly, I really thought 2020 was going to be a better year. I can’t even begin to contemplate what’s in store for me. I’m trying to stay positive but I am struggling.

With all of my running and healthy eating habits, I always felt that I never had to worry about my heart. But all the running and healthy eating could not prevent this mass from growing.

I really thought that I was going to beat it. I never thought that my heart would be what takes me out. Never.


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