Soon after I went to see my primary care doctor who chastised me for not visiting the ER and ordered an EKG. The results came back with signs of a possible heart attack, but it wasn't conclusive. I held off going to the cardiologist Iwas reffered to because of my lack of insurance and I felt I couldn't burden my family with the financial stress.
At 20 I was working 2 jobs as an EMT and this particular day I was working a double shift. I made the costly mistake of taking a Nodoze hoping the caffiene would give me the push I needed to stay awake. It gave me far more than a push. The caffeine super charged my heart causing my blood pressure to spike to 198/120 with a heart rate of 190, enough to give anyone a stroke. Being young, newly married, and with no insurance I ignored the advice of her fellow EMT co-workers and my own gut. I went home instead of the hospital, hoping and praying my heart would calm down with some aspirin and rest. It was a long and painful night with no rest lots of nausea, some very painful muscles and exhaustion.
When I was just 14 I was taking a sports physical and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. The Doctor put me on medication to help control it. Little did I know that small diagnosis was just the beginning of my story and my life's struggle with Coronary Microvascular Disease (CMVD).
At 22 the pain became more frequent, with the added symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath and I would often pass out. Tests were taken and the results were agian inconclusive. Nothing was showing up so I was told I was fine.
At the young age of 18 I had my gallbadder removed. When they took my blood to run ruitine tests they discovered I had high cholesterol. It was well over 300 but the doctor dismissed it as a fluke. At 19 I started having 100's of heart palpitations, different arrhythmias, and fast heart rates. I was told I was fine but I knew something wasn't fine because I couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs without becoming breathless or seriously fatiged.
4 long years later and I had had enough. Enough of the pain and enough of being told I was crazy. I reached my final tipping point when I was outside playing with my not yet 2 year old son and I couldn't walk up the steps to help him go down the slide at the park. I was tired of being told there was nothing wrong when I certainly knew there was. This was not normal and no one can say it is all in my head any longer. I finally took control and made an appointment in Salt Lake City, that specialist sent me to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. After a week of EKG's and MRI's and other tests they had a diagnosis. The Doctors did surgery and placed a device in my heart that recorded everything it did for 3 years. I was diagnosed with Cardiovascular Microvascular Dysfunction (CMVD). Completely devastated I went home knowing there was not going to be a quick fix for this.
My doctor sent me home with a medication and for 2 wonderful months it worked. I went back to work and was active again coaching the high school softball team, going to work and exercising regularly and playing with my son.
Then one day I went to work and felt ill. It was my heart. I hoped against hope that it was the flu. I laid down and finished out my shift. But it wasn't the flu it was my heart and from that moment on it never let me be the same again. Simple tasks like folding laundry or getting my son lunch were out of the question, they were too difficult and too exhasting and too painful.
Now, I spend a lot of my days in bed and on the really bad days when my medication isn't helping I spend them in the hospital ICU. But I don't let it keep me down. I try to stay optimistic and happy and even though CMVD has beat me in other ways I refuse to let it take all of me.
Brady has started her own movement to get the word out about heart disease in woman, and about CMVD. She created a Face Book page called Red Thumbs For One Month For Women's Heart Disease. There she posts articles and helpful information about heart disease and CMVD. Things such as, how to know the signs and symptoms and how to stay healthy. But what she has really done is created a movement and a voice for those that suffer with this disease. She created the red thumb to get people to ask why only your thumb was painted red, hoping to start a conversation about heart disese in women. Those of us that "Like" her FaceBook page wear a red thumb for the entire month of February, which is national heart health awareness month, and relish the moments when we are asked about our red thumbs. Brady's optimisim and courage is astounding and her joy is above reproach. I feel blessed to be her cousin and even more blessed to run in her name!
Brady was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and is undergoing cheomotherapy and radiation. Her cardiologist and oncologist work very closely together to find her the best treatment and are very optimistic that she will beat the cancer.
Brady thanks God for her life and all her blessings. She has reached out to others that have the same disease and is a support to them as well as they are to her. She perseverse through it all and has given back to others by serving them in the ways she can.
Brady has since beat cancers butt and is in remission as of the summer of 2015!