Shelley Wilkins Wallace

I am a heart attack survivor from Nanaimo. But it was sheer luck, not science, that allowed me to wait for proper cardiac care that was not available in Nanaimo.
On January 16th, 2009 I suffered a heart attack while attending my weekly aquacise class. I presented with pressure on my sternum, no typical sweating, no shortness of pain, and a brief wave of extreme pain that radiated up into my jaw, and my upper arms through to my upper back. At NRGH my condition was kept stable overnight until I was taken by ambulance to Royal Jubilee in Victoria. To better understand I learned that once a woman has a heart attack, she is at high risk of having another one within the next 24 hours., which can be fatal. At Royal Jubilee, I received proper cardiac care which included an angioplasty to insert three stents into my blocked right coronary artery.
I stayed for follow-up care and observation for three nights, then
returned home to Nanaimo.
A week later I started experiencing the same pressure in the chest which took me back to the ER at NRGH. It was a Friday. I was kept in the hospital until Monday under observation. I was then taken by ambulance back to Royal Jubilee in Victoria. I was taken to the Cath lab where a second angiogram confirmed that the stents were still in place. With a sense of relief, I was discharged and returned to my home in Nanaimo.
To my disappointment, I soon discovered that there was no cardiac rehabilitation available in Nanaimo. There was no cardiologist in Nanaimo. Since then, I have traveled to Royal Jubilee in Victoria for follow-up testing as NRGH does not have the appropriate equipment. I have blood work and yearly appointments with a local internist.
I experienced a “miracle” in 2009 as I survived my first heart attack. Every day I give thanks, but every day I worry about future heart challenges I may experience. All residents on Vancouver Island must have equal access to appropriate cardiac care. We must not rely on luck or miracles, but the proven science.