© American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women
Former US Women’s National Team soccer player Lindsey Huie performing drills. American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women
- Lindsay Huie was coaching five soccer teams and parenting five kids when she had a heart attack.
- The 36-year-old former US Women’s National Team player thought it was heartburn and resisted the ER.
- She’s sharing her story to raise awareness among women and other members of the LGBTQ community.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Lindsey Huie really didn’t have time to get sick. The 36-year-old competitive soccer player had five kids under age 11 and coached five soccer teams on the off-season. She and her wife also ran a kitten and cat rescue.
So when Huie felt uncharacteristically out of breath one day rushing between practices in September 2019, she justified it as seasonal changes or a bad’s night sleep – anything that wouldn’t require her to go to the hospital. After all, she was the picture of health as the oldest player on the LA Galaxy OC who’d formerly played for the U.S. Women’s National Team. She avoided medications, relying on natural remedies for any ailments, and meditated regularly.
Even when Huie’s chest felt like “when you tear a piece of paper in half with your hands,” she thought: “What did I eat?” Maybe it was heartburn.
But when Huie sat down in the middle of the soccer field, other parents knew something was wrong. One parent, a triage nurse, told her the symptoms – like feeling like there was an elephant on her chest – matched that of a heart attack. “I was in so much pain and I have such a high tolerance for pain,” she told Insider. “I felt like the only thing left to do was just cry.”
Still, she resisted getting in an ambulance, worried it would scare her kids and be a waste of precious time. “In my head, I’m still thinking, ‘This is a terrible idea, one of my kids has a social studies test tomorrow, and we have to study for that.'”
Now, Huie, 37, a volunteer for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women “Real Women” campaign, wishes she had gotten emergency care right away. She shared her story with Insider to raise awareness of heart disease in women – even among those who seem invincible.
Huie was sure she’d be dismissed for heartburn or anxiety
At an urgent care facility, Huie was sure she’d be discharged with an “anxiety” or “heartburn” diagnosis. When the EKG revealed something off on the left side of her heart that needed emergency care, she remained in denial. “Clearly something is wrong with the machine,” she thought.
In the emergency room, she resisted taking morphine for the pain due to her homeopathic lifestyle, a preference for using more natural therapies than pharmaceuticals, but a doctor swayed her: “If you want to be there for your kids, you’re going to do the morphine,” he said. (She now says she’s still not thrilled she had it in her system, but it was necessary in the moment to put herself, her health, and her family first.)
Later that night, Huie learned she’d had a heart attack, or specifically spontaneous coronary artery dissection or SCAD. The condition occurs when an artery in the heart tears, blocking blood flow. The American Heart Association says it’s not unusual for it to affect healthy women with few or no risk factors, like Huie.
When the doctor revealed her diagnosis, “I just feel like my world falls apart in that moment – there is no more heartburn, no more anxiety, like something really serious was happening,” she said. “I feel like I could have died, and how ridiculous that I didn’t just go straight to the emergency room?”
Huie’s recovery was more of a psychological challenge than a physical one. She was on several medications for a few months, felt tired all the time, and bruised easily. “I was pretty depressed for the first four months because I couldn’t do everything I was used to doing.” But with her doctor’s approval, she slowly got off all medications, including baby Aspirin.
She says the healthcare system still has a ways to go to be inclusive to LGBTQ patients
Huie said she wishes she’d been asked about her sexuality during her hospital stay to add texture to the picture of who SCAD effects. After all, discrimination against LGBTQ is linked to high rates of mental health issues, which in turn can affect heart disease.
The more researchers know about patients’ characteristics when studying any disease, the better they “lay the foundation for future generations to know if in fact there is any correlation,” she said.
The oversight is one example of the many ways the healthcare system could be more inclusive to LGBTQ patients, beginning with the moment they walk through the hospital door. “When I get to the hospital, the immediate question is always, ‘Should we contact your husband?” Huie said. “It’s like, ‘No, you don’t need to contact my husband because I don’t have one, but you can contact my wife.”
Huie’s nonstop lifestyle and other stressors may have contributed to her risk
Huie’s mom, grandfather, and grandmother all had heart attacks, but Huie assumed her healthy behaviors would override her genetic risk. She also didn’t take into account how the stresses of the prior few years could add up: Her dog was diagnosed with cancer, she came out as gay, she was in the process of adopting two of her kids, and she’d just returned to competitive soccer after 15 years in retirement.
Her nonstop daily routine – packing lunches, preparing dinner, shuttling kids to and from different schools and soccer practices – may have added fuel to the fire. “My free time was 10:30, 11:00 at night,” Huie said.
© American Heart Association Go Red for Women
Lindsey Huie plays soccer with her five kids. American Heart Association Go Red for Women
That lifestyle was natural to her though, growing up playing competitive soccer – what she calls her first love.
“The athlete in you comes first and everything else comes last. You’re not doing birthday parties. You’re not doing prom. You’re not doing grad nights. You’re not doing typical events because your whole life is revolving around sport,” Huie said. “Transferring over to momming, kids come first, everything else comes last, you come last.”
Not anymore, though. Huie now delegates some responsibilities to her kids, and has nixed tasks from the routine that just aren’t necessary.
“I used to make these really fancy toddlers lunches with little bears made out of Nutella,” she said. “We don’t do that anymore. What’s more important: that the kids make it to school with a healthy mom, or that they’re eating Nutella in the shape of a bear?”
She can no longer play soccer competitively, and takes it easier as a coach, monitoring her heart rate and stepping out when it gets too high. She encourages everyone to “know their numbers,” like their cholesterol, blood pressure, and BMI. “I’ve learned if I don’t respect what my body is asking of me,” she said, “I will suffer and pay for it.”
Read the original article on Insider
Source by www.msn.com