Catherine (pictured left above) had a SCAD 23 years ago, when there was very little information available, no support groups and no research into the condition. Here, she reflects on her experience, how the Covid pandemic brought back some of her post-SCAD fears, and how becoming a Beat SCAD Buddy has been one of her highlights.
“As I approach my 23rd year following a pregnancy-related SCAD (P-SCAD), it seems a good time to share some of the positive developments since those early days of my diagnosis in 1999.
“Having a first baby and a SCAD heart attack on the same day was life changing in many ways. The roller-coaster of emotions and the physical challenges often described by other SCAD survivors were shared by me.
“The internet and social media were in their infancy. Very little was known about SCAD, which was probably why it took me two years to even hear about another person in the world who had had one – and they lived in America.
“There really was, I felt at the time, no support.
“Thankfully so much has changed for the better thanks to SCAD research and the Beat SCAD charity.
“However, it saddens me to still hear SCAD survivors being dismissed and told to forget about it, so there is always work to do. We thankfully now have so much support and information to hand.
“In my experience it is so important to be our own advocate in relation to our post-SCAD recovery, not always easy I know.
“I found attending the early SCAD meetings organised by Dr David Adlam, who now leads the UK SCAD research, with others who had had a SCAD so positive. It was also quite surreal being in a room with so many others who had experienced a SCAD.
“Being part of the research on an ongoing basis is welcomed by me.
“In the early months of Covid, prior to vaccinations, I remember having feelings similar to those I had in the early post-SCAD months. All the emotions about feeling anxious and the risks I felt it was OK to take, resurfaced for a while.
“Thankfully the vaccinations programme helped me move on to a normal life once more. If anything, Covid has reinforced the importance for me to push forwards, live in the moment and not dwell too much on the past.
“I should say it has taken years to reach this stage and it has not always been straightforward. So now I take my tablets each morning and look after my physical and emotional wellbeing.
“Being asked to be a Beat SCAD Buddy is another highlight for me and an important role in supporting others that have had a SCAD. I have made such good friends from the world of SCAD including the two here in a recent photograph at Glenfield Hospital – Dr Adlam and fellow SCAD patient Jacqui Hughes.”
Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your thoughts, we hope other SCAD patients will find them helpful.
Catherine is a retired Health Play Specialist and helped us create a leaflet with tips on how to talk to children about SCAD.