By Guest Blogger Bria Lewis/American Heart Association
“When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.” -Author unknown
One of Patricia Wood’s greatest treasures is her mother. Here is her incredible journey …
“I am 1 of 7 siblings. My twin sister and I were the unexpected two as the youngest. Even more unexpected, my mother went to the hospital to deliver her baby and after the doctor delivered me, exclaimed, ‘There’s another one!’
Just before my twin sister Pam and I turned three years old, our father died of a heart attack. My mother did a wonderful job in raising us. She always made holidays very special by having wonderful traditions for each. She also made our birthday special by making each of us our very own homemade angel food cake decorated with tiny roses from our small rose garden.
On August 10, 2019, I was awakened at 8: 20 a.m. by a strange feeling high in my chest. I could only describe it as discomfort and pressure. I was extremely weak.
Even though we have a large family history, I didn’t once think … ‘Is it my heart?”
Her husband took her to the emergency room at Novant Health Clemmons Medical Center where she was quickly assessed, told it was her heart and transferred to Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center with her husband and Pam at her side.
While in the catheterization lab it was determined that Patricia had a 100% blockage of the left main coronary artery that runs down the front of the heart, also known as a widowmaker heart attack. “The widowmaker has a very low chance of survival. “My situation was dire,” shared Patricia.
Heart disease had affected many in her family, including her father who passed away at age 47, her brother who had a heart attack at just 35 years old, another brother who had an emergency quadruple bypass at 45, and her mother whom she lost to congestive heart failure at 86. Now Patricia’s heart history was added to the list.
Patricia was recognized as one of the 2020 American Heart Association’s Forsyth County Go Red Women and she has been sharing her story throughout the year to help other women protect their hearts. Little did Patricia know that her story would help someone very close to her.
One year and one month to the day of her own widowmaker, her twin sister Pam felt a fluttery feeling. Her husband took her to the hospital to see exactly what was going on. She too suffered from an almost 90% blockage of the exact same major artery as Patricia did!
“Pam actually went to a cardiologist a week after my event and was cleared. We kept saying BUT, the cardiologist said you were fine. I was born first, and I did not authorize this copycat move,” Patricia joked. “It was hard to see Pam wheeled in and not be able to be close to her during her event when she headed to the catheterization lab, due to COVID.
I was able to tell her, ‘I know it’s going to be okay’ and that I was proof of it.
Pam and I didn’t have high cholesterol, and this could not have been predicted. We have also tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If anything seems out of the ordinary, call your doctor. We can do small things to improve our health, eliminate small stressors, and make healthy changes in diet. I want to encourage every woman to learn your family history and listen to your own body!”
Patricia Wood is sharing her story to help prevent heart disease and raising awareness. For local American Heart Association programs, events and volunteer opportunities visit heart.org/Triad or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/AHANorthCarolina. Novant Health is proud to be the American Heart Association’s “Life is Why” and “Go Red for Women” sponsor in Forsyth County, celebrating all women, supporting women wherever they may be in their journey, and encouraging women to put their health first. To read more local stories, visit novanthealth.com/healthyheadlines.
*Sponsored by American Heart Association