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Teresa Williams, Alabama

by Julie H. on Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teresa Williams, You're the Cure advocate, shares her personal story with heart disease.

I'm a mother to five children, ranging in ages from 9 to 25, and a grandmother to two little boys, 1 years old and six years old. I am also a heart attack survivor.

On October 5, 2012, I woke up to a pain in my back. This was nothing new; I've had back problems for years. Shortly after I started moving around, I began having pains in my upper arms. My arms felt like they were broken. I felt as if electricity was running through my legs and I started pouring sweat. I managed to tell my husband that something was wrong and he called an ambulance.

I was rushed to the nearest emergency room, where I received the necessary medicine to survive long enough to make it to the hospital that was equipped to deal with a heart attack. My blood pressure was dropping and I had to have a stent implanted immediately. I spent three days in ICU and another day in a regular room. I was released and told to follow up with my primary care physician and my new heart doctor.

But I didn't have insurance, so I didn't have a primary care physician. It took me four months to be able to afford one. In the meantime, I was told to see the heart doctor every month for a few months. I could only afford to see him twice. Most of my medicine was around $150.00, except for the most important one and it was $700.00 for a month's supply. Luckily, I begged samples from my doctor.

I applied for Medicaid and was turned down because I exceeded the income limits. Since I received $400.00 a month in child support, I didn't qualify for Medicaid. Finally, I gave up my child support in order to qualify. Unfortunately, that was after my hospital stay and several calls that resulted in the EMTs coming to my house at $1,889.00 a visit. My doctor visits have cost me around $500.00, plus another $500.00 in medication cost.

I've been told that my condition would have been preventable had I been going to the doctor regularly. As a matter of fact, I was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat about five years ago. The doctor I was seeing at the time ordered some tests to be performed, but my health care coverage ran out before I was able to have them done.

Now, I have another blockage, a stent and permanent heart damage. I know I'm lucky to have survived, but I really wish It could have been prevented in the first place.