Michelle Demeuse Wisconsin
I was in the eighth grade and was sitting at home doing homework and watching my mother make fried chicken. I had watched her paced back and forth from the kitchen to the bathroom and finally into our formal living room where she was holding her left arm, perspiring and asking for me to find a pillow and help her lie down. Even for a little a girl, I knew that something was wrong with my mother. She was having a heart attack. That was 1986. She had 5 bypass surgery and barely made it out alive. Between 1986 and 2003, my mom was in and out of the hospital having a pace maker put in, a stroke, shocking her heart back into place and changing medication by IV every six months. Also, my father had 5 bypass surgery during those years and so did my brother at the age of 38.
My total existence has been centered around hospitals and knowing about heart disease and what it can do to a family. I lived in fear wondering when my dear mother would pass away from her heart failing. She was always in the hospital, on medication and seeing her cardiologist. It all just became part of my every day life.
My dear brother now is in his late 50's and has had his fair share of heart problems and even on the verge of being on the heart transplant list.
So in my family, it is all hereditary. I am now 39 years old, and I have had my first appointment with my own cardiologist and had a day filled with cardio testing. Today is a whole lot different then when my mom had heart problems. She was told it was stress, or diet or smoking, but at her age, it couldn't be her heart. I went in and my doctors were very concerned for my well being and that they had so many new tests to try on me since that days of my mom.
I had my calcium score done and a nuclear stress done. All because of the knowledge and the funding that the American Heart Association and now the cardiologists take heart health seriously.
My mother passed away in 2003 of congestive heart failure when I was 29 years old. I miss her her so much, but I am proud of her and knowing of my family's heart history doesn't scare me any more. My cardiologist told me that if new testing becomes available they will let me know, but as of now, I show a healthy heart and will be monitored and taken seriously from now on.
Thanks to the American Heart Association for taking my fear of heart disease and turning it into a time of hope and peace!!!