Reflections From a 25 years old heart bypass patient

Written by: Rebekah Poindexter

A year already?!?! You may be wondering what happened why I’m asking this. Well let me tell you about my heart disease story of my fears, worries & accomplishments.

October 2011 is the day it all started. I remember having chest pain for a couple weeks thought nothing of it. I remember going on walks with my husband and dog and telling my husband numerous times. My exact words “Why am I having such bad chest pain I have been told I am to young for a heart attack so it can’t be a heart attack right?” he had no answer. We thought maybe it was just because my diabetes was out of control around this time.

Skip ahead a couple weeks. I remember being home alone. I did NOTHING but sleep. I had NO energy. NONE what so ever all I wanted to do was sleep. I would get up and take pictures of me with the reborn I had at the time. I still have those pictures today. I remember continuing to think nothing of it. At this time I was STILL working (Babysitting). Everytime I got up to do something was when I got the chest pain. If I was laying/sitting down relaxing I wouldn’t have it.

Skip ahead another couple days/week. I remember the girls I watched wanted me to go trick or treating with them, their aunt, cousin and their mom. SO I said what the heck why not. Well it was fairly nice out that night so we walked. I thought nothing of it. I thought hey I could use a nice walk. So we started walking and sure enough the chest pain started up . The lady I babysat for worked at the hospital. I remembering bringing up im having chest pain. It wasn’t bad! But I remember bringing it up. She said “Im off duty or something like that and I remember laughing it off. Which I thought was funny because I wasn’t thinking the chest pain was serious. I have had chest pain a lot in my life. So we walked back and I went home and relaxed with hubby and went to bed.
Skip ahead another couple days/week. I remember I had little Ava here (I was babysitting) and I remember I wasn’t feeling good AT all that morning. I remember I got up and go some verners and crackers and went and sat back down on the couch. I got up to get something out of the fridge. The chest pain was the worst it had EVER been. I said to Ava “Get your shoes we are leaving NOW”
Off we went to urgent care about 20 or so minutes give or take away from where I live. When you get to urgent care you have to fill out a form describing why you are wanting to be seen ect. Well I filled out that form and turned it in and the lady said it could be an hr or more before I am seen. I raised HELL “I was like your sign in the lobby says you see people right away with chest pain” She is like well unless it’s a possible heart attack we don’t. So you need to have a seat. I started bursting in tears and walked out and sat in between the 2 double doors. I vaguly remember trying to call my husband. Couldn’t get a hold of him as I was sitting there still crying wondering what do I do. The guy at the door came up to me and I told him what was wrong and he wheeled me back to a room IMMEDIATELY. I was in a room and I had a dr and nurses around me asking me questions. I just remember being so scared I couldn’t really answer anything. I remember a nurse t old me Ava was in a room watching cartoons.
They ran an EKG on me and I guess that didn’t come back good? The reason I say this is because I remember they said that I had to be transferred to Munson Medical Center via ambulance because I am diabetic and insulin dependent. I started freaking out because my husband didn’t know what was going on and they assured me they would call him at his work and make sure they get a hold of him and let them know whats going on. I had the vehicle that day and he was walking distance so he walked down. They also called Ava’s mom and had her come pick Ava up.

Made it there before they wheeled me to the ambulance. I remember crying the whole way to the hospital just wanting my husband with me.

Get to the hospital and I was there for a little bit alone and when my husband got there I remember asking “Am I gonna be OK?”. He had no answer. We were both scared, worried, and nervous as to what was to come. Later they ran a bunch of test and came back and said that they were gonna keep me 1 more night for observation and they would move to me a room soon. But they wanted to run a couple more tests. After those tests I remember them coming back and saying I had a “MILD HEARTATTACK”. I started crying and asking WHY? I was told I was to young for this. WHY ME!! I remember asking my husband again. “Am I gonna be OK? Am I gonna die?”. I was scared and worried of what was to come.

Next the heart doctor came in and start explaining and that I would have a heart cath done in the morning to check my heart and depending on how that comes back I could either have stents put in (at the same time as the heart cath) or I would have to have open heart surgery.
Finally I got put in a room! I just remember being scared. I was in shock. The next day they did a heart scope and I remember waking up in my bed and see my husband sitting beside me in tears. (I was still blurry eyed from the anesthesia). But I remember seeing him in tears and it went thru my mind what happened? I started freaking out. When I was awake enough he explained to me what was going on. He said that my heart has FOUR yes FOUR blocked arteries (around 80-90% blocked). That the surgeon would come in and be talking to us sometime that afternoon. I remember him coming in and explaining that surgery would be the best option. So we agreed to do surgery. Me NEVER EVER having surgery was scared and one of the scariest surgies possible as my first was not easy for me.

Later I was wheeled to a different unit/floor. I remember being set up and getting to know the nurses really well. I remember having some laughs and walking halls A LOT. A couple days later my husband had my bag (laptop, underwear, coat etc) packed and he walked down with us while I road on a gurney. I remember him being directed to a waiting room and being told it would be 2 ½-3hrs. I remember him kissing me good bye and an I love you whispered in my ear. That is when I started freaking out. My husband wasn’t in site anymore and I was afraid I would NEVER see him again.

I got wheeled into prep and they started prepping me. The next thing I remember is waking up in my room with a tube coming out of my mouth and being hooked up to a bunch of machines. I remember being scared I was trying to pull the tube. My husband and a nurse had to hold my hands down so I didn’t pull it out. I remember gagging A LOT. Then they finally told me “breathe in and out and HOLD so I did and they pulled the tube out and I felt FREE” even though I still had other stuff hooked up to me. I was relieved I was holding my husbands hand and thanking god I was still here. He gave me another chance. I remember my mother in law came A LOT to visit and check on me.
My husband took a couple weeks off so he could be with me and my mother in law would come and visit and be with me while my husband would go home and let the dog out, feed the cats, take a shower etc. I remember having ONE nurse my first night after surgy. I remember having the worst pain of my life.

NOTE: Remember while you read this. Its ALL based off of memory.
I remember the next day being encouraged to get up and walk. For awhile I had to walk with my nurse and my husband or mother in law would ALWAYS walk with me and the nurse. I had to walk with a walker and then after awhile I was becoming a pro and walking the hallways 3-4 times a day. I would walk as much as I could. The more I walked the quicker I could go home.
Well they were discharge me and then I had a UTI. They wanted to keep me and give me medication and monitor me while on that medication. I remember by this time I was walking the hallways as much as they would allow me to. I would walk 6-7x a day. It felt good to walk.
I remember being discharged and going home with Ava, Madison & my mother in law. While I was in the hospital I lost a babysitting job, temp lost one & my mother in law watched the girl sisters for me. I was attached to those girls. I remember my mother in law had to stay with me while hubby was at work and she would continue to watch the girls for me while hubby was at work.
Then I had a home nurse that would come by 2-3 times a week. I got a monitor put in my home that I had to get up EVERY MORNING @ 8am and weight my self, check my blood pressure and my temp. My weight was supposed to stay steady and it wasn’t. It was going up. Everyone was worried but I was having no signs that something was wrong.

So a week after being discharged at 2-3am in the morning I woke up and was sick. I remember I couldn’t breathe and I told my husband we need to go to the hospital. We waited to see if it would get better. It didn’t so off we went to the hospital. They ran some tests didn’t find much and ALMOST sent me home. But wanted to run 1 more test. That test is what kept me another week in the hospital. Found out I had fluid around my heart and my right or left (I can’t remember) lung. The next day I went in and had to fluid around my lung taken out. Then if I remember right the next day I went in and had the fluid around my heart taken out (paracardial window). I had another tube left in me to help remove what ever fluid might have been left.

I remember I would be told I was being sent home to find out I didn’t “drain” enough yet and had to stay another day. I remember crying and crying I just wanted to go home. I missed my dog and my missed my cats and babies. I just wanted to go home and cuddle them and being able to relax in my bed.

FINALLY the day came I was able to go home.

A couple weeks after I started cardiac rehab. I meet a great lady and someone I am proud to say is a friend. I was NERVOUS starting cardiac rehab and it was hard at first but it got easier as time went on. I went on Mon, Wed & Fri’s and I remember that it got to the point if I missed a day I was sad because I started enjoying going to cardiac rehab.
I remember another time being taken to the hospital for chest pain and they ran tests and did a stress test and everything came back fine so I got sent home. The thing I liked about the stress tests was there was 1 person in there I recognized. I had SEVERAL doctors and nurses surrounding me and they hooked my IV up to a little machine that pumped fluid in me and I was hooked up to a heart monitor so they could see what my heart was doing. I Remember starting to cry becaue I was feeling so much pressure. But I saw the guy that was training with some of the nurses at cardiac rehab there. I smiled because I actually saw someone I knew.

Skip ahead a couple weeks. After going back to cardiac rehab.
Then one day I was at cardiac rehab I was having a hard day and I got done early (due to having a hard day) I was having a hard time breathing and chest pain started up. I remember them giving me a pill that is supposed to take away the pain and it wouldn’t go away so they gave me another one 5min later. Still nothing. So I was taken to an exam room and they tried and tried and tried to get a hold ofmy husband with no luck. I ended up having to be taken to the hospital again via ambulance. They ended up getting a hold of my husband and he showed up at the hospital shortly after I got there. They ran some tests and everything came back fine but due to my history of heart problems they wanted to keep me over night and run another heart cath test in the morning. Which came back good. Everything they did in surgery was still looking good. So they went ahead and sent me home. I had to miss cardiac rehab for a week because of that procedure.

I went back and ALMOST finished cardiac rehab.

Some little things I remember from being in the hospital was……Every morning I would have someone come in and draw blood, then I would have my nurse come in and check my vitals. That was one of the many things I hated about being in the hospital.
You may ask…What have I changed since my heart attack to better myself and my health? Well it has been hard but I have been trying to lose weight and trying to eat healthier and watch what I am eating. I have also started counting carbs and cutting out a lot of junk food and regular pop. I try and get out of the house more to exercise and I work on it daily. It is a daily struggle but I remember what I went thru back in November and it pushes me through it every day! Every day I am thanking god for giving me another chance at life.

I am 25years old and suffering with diabetes (diagnosed in 2010) and heart disease (November 2011) and many other conditions.

I just hope from my experience that I will be able to reach out to other young people and let them know to get checked. Even if you feel there is no chance of you having heart disease or even diabetes PLEASE I beg you PLEASE get checked. It could be life or death. I always believe today if I didn’t go in when I did I might not be where I am today.

I have to thank A LOT of people for encouraging me and helping me thru everything I went thru.

Kevin Poindexter (husband)
Linda Poindexter (mother in law)
Tina Poindexter (Sister in law)
Maddie Poindexter (niece)
Beth Dole (cardiac rehab nurse and close friend)

Cathi Rynard (Diabetes education)

Dr. Varner (heart doctor)
Dr. Stirling (Surgeon)


6 thoughts on “Reflections From a 25 years old heart bypass patient

  1. Reblogged this on Ember Branch and commented:
    Heart diseases account most fears, anxiety and confusion to any person in the 50’s age level once that person knew of his/her disorder but, as most knows now these diseases can be prevented and can be treated specially if this disease is detected early.

  2. Pingback: Reflections From a 25 years old heart bypass patient | heart diseases an heart conditions |

  3. Yes, I want to reply about Heart Bypass surgery, My surgery was 10 years ago. I have the problem of not sleep in a bed. I have tried sleeping in the bed, but I just lay their with my eyes open. My wife saysits a mental thing, is she right. I like sleeping in my recliner in a position not totally reclined position. Can someone help or explain why this happens, and why do I cry at the least little thing. I am just confused about this. My doctor does not seem to care one way or the other. Can you help me.

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for reading the blog. You are not alone in finding it difficult to sleep while in bed. Your body may have trained itself, or you may have something else going on. Have you considered going to a sleep specialist. We talk to patients about sleep hygiene, as there are things you can do to improve your sleep habits. There may be a physiologic reason you cannot sleep, such as fluid retention, etc. a thorough review of your sleep through a sleep study may help.

      The crying could signal you may be battling depression. If it seems that you cannot control it again I would find a good physician to work with or consider counseling. Sometimes a serious health issue awakens more emotions that we are used to. You may find that having such a brush with mortality has made you more sensitive to life’s ups and down. Sometimes that is good, sometimes it is bad. Follow this link on the web PHQ-9 this is a screening tool for depression. Score yourself and take that with you to your physician appointment. Be honest when talking to your physician especially how you feel you should proceed, talk therapy, support groups, medication. Do you regularly exercise?

      Click to access PHQ%20-%20Questions.pdf

    • Hi Frank,

      Please consider taking a look at the Inspire website ~ the heart group. There are many, many people who have been through the same or similar things. You will find kindred spirits. I have a suggestion that you take a look at one of those beds that are adjustable: I even think the beds you can adjust with air, firm or soft, have a reclining and leg raised position. You may like to be elevated at night because it gives you a feeling of more air, or perhaps you have sleep apnea and your breathing gets closed off when the airway tends to be more flaccid as we age. My husband is in his 40s and I am in my 50s ~ and we both use CPAP and feel a million times better. You’d need a sleep study with a Board Certified Sleep Medicine specialist to know if this is an issue for you. Often heart problems and sleep issues go hand in hand.

      As far as the emotions ~ when people are on bypass, there is a thing called “pump-brain”, due to the oxygen issues when you are on the machine. Many people talk about how it affects their memory, emotions, etc. Also, take a look at a type of therapy called EMDR. It’s all about removing and resolving trauma. Heart Bypass is traumatic, and just heart disease is traumatic. There is a book out by the founder of EMDR, Francine Shapiro, that explains EMDR to the layman. Also, find a credentialed therapist at

      Best of luck to you and see you on Inspire, hopefully.

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