I’ve always been strong and never considered I would have an ongoing
health concern. I’ve been active — I went to Curves for 11 years — ate really well
and read the labels when I shopped. But at my age, 54, you just don’t know: last
year, I became a heart patient and I’ll be a heart patient for the rest of my life.
In April 2010, I had a burning, tight feeling in my chest and pain in my left arm that kept getting
worse. My local doctor, Dr. Joachim Neffgen, sent me to Calgary and it turned out I had a 70-per-
cent blockage in the main artery of my heart. The next day, I had an angioplasty, a stent inserted in
I quit smoking right away. I’d been cutting back for a long time and found it easier than I thought
to give up altogether. By June, Dr. Neffgen said I could go back to brisk walking and cycling. I was
already exercising at the Drumheller Health Centre’s cardiac rehabilitation program. The program
was excellent, and we’re very fortunate to have it, but one day I just couldn’t do it. An overgrowth
of tissue had almost blocked both ends of the stent.
A different stent was inserted and, if it blocks again, I’ll have to have bypass surgery. It’s been an
emotional, stress-filled year. I’ve always been a bit of perfectionist and an Energizer bunny kind of
person, but at the hair salon I own, I’ve cut back an hour a day and try not to worry if something
goes wrong. I’ve learned to chill out — sit down with a book and leave dusting and laundry for
another day. I’ve accepted I’m not Supermom.
My head is not quite around the fact that I’m a heart patient, but I have learned to
give in to being tired and rest my body. I’ve always looked after people, but realize now
is a time to let people, in health care and my family, look after me. — As;told;to;Terry;Bullick