A&E Sister Kim was shocked at her diagnosis, but has become more appreciative of her family and friends

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It was my second day back at work on Friday 8 September 2017 having had all the Summer holiday break off school. I work as an Occupational Health Adviser and a School Nurse in a secondary school. Yes, I am a Nurse, an A&E Sister.

I called my husband at 2.21pm to say I’d pick him up from town on the way to pick our youngest child from infant school. Seconds after hanging up from him, I had a hot sweat come over me, my palms were wet, my face and neck felt flushed, hot and sweaty. Then I was aware of a sharp pain in my chest and a tingling in left arm and hand. I quickly called a colleague and managed to say I didn’t feel well, could she come to me. It took her 20 seconds to get to me. She found me on the floor lying in and around vomit and I was unconscious.

The next thing I recall is the loud siren of the ambulance and the jerky drive.

Pre-SCAD, I was fit and healthy. No health issues AT ALL.

The Hospital staff were AMAZING! The Cardiologist I was put under had heard of SCAD, but had me checked over by her Senior and his colleagues – because, I quote… I was “a rare one”! After several scans, blood tests and an angiogram there it was, clear as day… a SCAD in my LAD (left anterior descending artery) and heart tissue damage to my left heart chamber. It wasn’t beating/squeezing like the rest of the heart.

In the space of hours, I had gone from being an active, part-time working nurse/mum of three (aged 12, 11 and six) to a patient being told to totally rest and stop.

Children at St Barts who raised money for Beat SCAD

I was in disbelief at the diagnosis. I looked completely out of place on CCU with other heart attack patients. I felt like a fraud. My husband was in shock at the diagnosis and like me thought ‘How? Why? No! That’s not right!’

I ended up resting as advised for eight weeks, commenced medication as advised, joined a cardiac rehab group for weekly sessions (where again, I didn’t look like a heart attack patient), and got referred to a SCAD specialist, Dr Abi Al-Hussaini.

Dr Abi did scans, bloods etc and on 16 February 2018 (five months post-SCAD) advised me I have FMD (Fibromuscular Dysplasia) in my renal arteries. There it was clear as day, the ‘beads’ effect in my renal arteries. Finally, we had an answer as to why I had a SCAD!

Everyday life since the 8 September 2017 has changed. I am more appreciative of life, my kids, my husband, family and friends. I reduced my hours and days to give me time to myself one day a week and shorter hours on the days I work. I have not gone back to the Spinning class I used to do and no high-impact classes either. I’m just not ready to do them again.

I still get breathless at times for no apparent reason, my heart twinges every now and then, but I am more aware of what feels OK and I still occasionally take time to rest to ensure I can remain at my best for my children and my husband. I notice I sleep more now and having late nights isn’t good for me.

I am 18 months post-SCAD and nearly 13 months FMD diagnosed. Beat SCAD, the Facebook SCAD UK & Ireland Survivors and FMD Groups have been a lifeline! Meeting others, chatting online, giving support and hearing how everyone else is managing and coping has been instrumental with coping with it emotionally.

Recently, all three of my children’s schools have held non-uniform days to raise money for Beat SCAD!