SCAD (A life Threatening Condition That No One Knows About)

SCAD...What is SCAD you may be asking yourself, well I am here to tell you my story in hopes to bring awareness around this life threatening rare condition. SCAD, Spontaneous Coronary Artery Direction. is an uncommon emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in a blood vessel in the heart. This condition can slow or block blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack, abnormalities in heart rhythm or sudden death. The scary part is it commonly affects women in their 40s and 50s that do not have any preexisting health conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure. This condition can cause sudden death if not diagnosed at the proper time and treated immediate. I am here to share my story. This condition can happen at anytime suddenly, hence the name "Spontaneous".
SCAD, in layman terms, WOKE ME UP. My perception of life changed at that moment. I knew I had to live for my then new born baby, she was only three weeks at the time. SCAD helped me understand that life was too precious and that I needed to pressure my passion of creating and formulating to provide a lifelong legacy for my only child. I needed to make use of my love for hair, knowledge of chemistry and pharmacy and share it with you all through the products that I create. 

My Postpartum Story:
Warning: extremely long post!
Most of this post was written June 12, 2019 while still in the hospital recovering from surgery.

My baby will be 4 weeks tomorrow, Thursday June 13th and I miss her like crazy. I haven’t seen her in an entire week and its killing me. Not being able to hold her, see her developmental milestones, feed her, the little things of becoming a first time mother. I would have never in my life thought that everything that has transpired in the past three weeks would happen to me but it did and I believe for a reason. Here is my testimony and I hope it helps you or someone you may know that is or may encounter what I am going through now.

My Pregnancy:

My pregnancy at 36 years of age was very smooth. It took me many years of literal blood, sweat and tears to have my first child. (My pregnancy journey will be another post) 😊 No major issues arose during the process. I was borderline GDM but luckily I didn't get it. My little girl treated me well. Towards the end it got a little uncomfortable because she was a big baby and was a week late but that was to be accepted.

Delivery - The best day of my life

I was induced May 15th 2019 at 41 weeks. My labor and delivery went ok. There were some scary moments but in general it was smooth. They started me on Pitocin at 5:45pm that day and as the contractions progressed they offered me pain medication. I had an epidural when I hit about 5 cm. After my epidural was administered about an hour later my baby's heart rate started to drop. They were thinking of an emergency c-section but thankfully her heart rate went back up and stayed regular through the rest of the delivery process. During delivery, I would say after the third push, I started feeling a sharp pain in my chest. As if the baby's legs where logged in my chest. I know this wasn't possible but that is how it felt. After each push I would complain to the nursing staff and doctor that I was having chest pain after every push but my complaints were ignored. I never experienced chest pain my entire pregnancy and before my pregnancy. This was a new pain. There was no response or concern from the staff so I just followed their directions and pushed her out successfully. After my delivery the pain subsided. On May 16th 2019 at 11:24am my big beautiful baby girl was born. I named her Phoenyx Paige.

Week one postpartum:

I am so in love bonding with my baby and enjoying every little moment with her. Postpartum anxiety struck me pretty bad but I pushed through. About 3 days after having baby Phoenyx I started to notice that my feet were supper swollen, started having minor headaches in the back of my head and mild back pain. After the baby’s 4 day old check up I decided to see a doctor at urgent care to make sure that there wasn’t anything wrong with my blood pressure. I was thinking Preeclampsia. All test results came back normal except one my BNP (Brain natriuretic peptide) test was elevated but the doctor wasn’t too worried since my Troponin level was 0.2. I was told to follow up with my primacy physician a week later.

Week two postpartum: 

About this time I went to urgent care again suffering from major migraine headaches. The nurse read my blood pressure, she thought her machine wasn’t working it was so high. Saw the doctor (he thought that I had thyroid problems because my eyes were bulging) I already have big eyes but they were pretty big during this time. I told him that I did not have issues with my thyroid so he just gave me Motrin 800 mg for major headache pain and sent me home. He was thinking since my headache was so severe that it was increasing my blood pressure. A few days later I was sitting on my couch eating a salad then all of a sudden I had severe pain in my gastro intestinal track and had a severe headache at the same time. My husband called the ambulance and I was off to the ER this time. Stayed there for about 7 hours and then was discharged with high blood pressure for my diagnosis (but what was causing my high BP, they couldn't figure it out). That Friday I had my scheduled appointment with my doctor. He confirmed my diagnosed of high blood pressure and gave me BP pills to take. The odd thing is he didn’t check my BNP level which were elevated that from my 5/20 appointment. He just said that it could have been an early sign of Preeclampsia.

BNP test measures the amount of the BNP hormone in your blood. BNP is made by your heart. It can help show how well your heart is working. Normally, only a low amount of BNP is found in your blood. But if your heart has to work harder than usual over a long period of time, such as from heart failure, the heart releases more BNP. This increases the blood level of BNP.

That Saturday my husband, baby and I had an outing at target. It was nice to get out of the house. I got blood pressure meds and pain meds, I was good to go. So I thought. As we were leaving target... BAM....someone backs into our car...damn now we have to deal with this accident. After the accident, as we were driving home my chest suddenly started to hurt. I had never felt this pain in my life. This was the first time I actually suffered from chest pain since giving birth to my baby. I just thought it was from the heat, we live in the central valley CA and it gets over 100 degrees, but it didn’t go way. I took another trip to Urgent Care where the Dr. tested my blood and seen that my troponin level increase to 4.0 normal range is 0.3. So she sent me back to ER. Cardiac enzyme studies measure the levels of enzymes and proteins that are linked with injury of the heart muscle. The test checks for the proteins troponin I (TnI) and troponin T (TnT). The test might also check for an enzyme called creatine kinase (CK). Low levels of these proteins and enzymes are normally found in your blood, but if your heart muscle is injured, such as from a heart attack, the proteins and enzymes leak out of damaged heart muscle cells, and their levels in the bloodstream rise. I was admitted for observation. An awesome cardiologist (sent from GOD) suggested that my heart was strained from the delivery two weeks ago. After tests, getting my Traponin levels down, and trying to find the right cocktail of meds to put me on he sent me home a day later 6/3/2019 to start my new therapy.

Week 3 postpartum:

We took baby Phoenyx to the Dr. that Tuesday 6/4 for her two week check up. Everything came back normal and she is growing healthy and strong. We decided to get some Popeyes chicken on the way home. While in the drive through Phoenyx woke up and took a long stretch in her car seat an just got stuck in that position. I hurried and grabbed her out of her car seat and looked her in the eyes. My poor baby’s eyes were red she turned bright red because apparently she couldn’t breathe. I though she was having a seizure. At this moment I was calling 911 and Bryan (my husband) was rushing her back to Kaiser Hospital (luckily we were right down the street). She had bubbles coming out of her mouth and her face was still stuck in that stretching/ straining position until about halfway to the clinic. We get to the clinic and doctor check her vitals and turns out she had chocked on her saliva in her car seat. At this time I am thinking to myself that the past two in half weeks have been hell for me with my health now thinking that something was wrong with my baby. That chocking episode was the most horrific feeling that I could have ever felt. I was glad that everything thing turned out perfectly fine for baby Phoenyx.

We get home and rested. I took my cocktail of meds, took my blood pressure and watched the baby like a hawk. I noticed that my BP wasn’t going down but I just thought it was due to me getting used to my new therapy. That night while breastfeeding the baby (which seemed to always bring on my extreme headaches) chest pains continued and were getting worse. When I would lay down I felt spasms in my chest and when I would feed the baby they would get worse but it wasn’t constant so I chalked it up to me getting used to my meds. The next morning 6/4/2019 I was still feeling the same chest pains. I was thinking at this point I can not get a break from this and I need to know what the hell is going on with me. Bryan and I dropped the baby off at my parents and we were headed back to Urgent Care AGAIN! They tested my Troponin levels and they were going back up so that meant a trip back to ER. I was admitted again an this time my cardiologist said that he wasn’t letting me go until he knew definitely what was going on with me. After running more test and testing me on different medications my troponin level went back up to 4.0. He decided to do a cardiac angiogram. A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see your heart's blood vessels. The test is generally done to see if there's a restriction in blood flow going to the heart. This is an Invasive procedure and since I just had a baby, my body was still recovering from that. It was very risky and he was very hesitant to do the test because it was a chance that I could have died right then and there, but in the end we had too. Thankfully I survived the teat and the results came back that I had two blocked major arteries one 100% blocked and the other partially blocked and one completely torn artery which caused the other to be blocked. Then I was diagnosed with SCAD (Spontaneous coronary artery dissection) which my cardiologist believes was caused by a large amount of estrogen in my system. I was then rushed and prepped for surgery a triple bypass right away. They replaced the damaged arteries in my heart with veins from my right leg. 

When I think of postpartum I think of a lot of bonding with baby, crying a lot, being happy, being sad, having anxiety or depression etc. but I never thought in a million years that at the age of 36 I would have to have emergency triple bypass surgery due to two 100% blocked arteries and one completely torn artery caused high levels of estrogen in my system and strenuous pushing I had to do while delivering my baby. The very thing I was complaining about during delivery. I didn't mention above but my delivery was rushed. Once nurse stated, "we have to get this baby out by lunch time".

As I sat in the hospital writing this, I just have to site back and thank God. My savior pulled me through. He showed me so many signs, I never gave up on getting the correct diagnosis. He is truly by my side at all times and I can feel it even more. My family, oh my gosh my entire family has been so supportive through this entire ordeal. Seeing all of their faces after I woke up from surgery made my time here in the hospital manageable. All of the calls/ FaceTime messages have help me so much. My husband and little sister have been my two support warriors they’ve were there every day with me and I appreciate them both so very much. My mom and dad for carrying for my newborn baby. My husband has not left my side since day one. All of the ER and Urgent care trips he’s been there and I can’t thank God enough for placing him into my life.

Please speak up to your nursing and doctor staff if you think something is wrong. Make them listen to you. Make them do as much testing as possible. You know your body the best. Chest pain while in labor was the clue to the mystery. I can't help but think if I would have gotten a c-section would I have even went through this ordeal. This happened for a reason. I am hear to spread awareness, to live life to the fullest, to achieve every goal God has planned for you. Life is too precious. If you are wanting to do something whether its a career change, travel, what ever it is DO IT. What happened to me was rare but It defiantly can happen to anyone. To often we lose our beautiful women due to complications and rare conditions that doctors aren't completely educated on. I thank my cardiologists and surgeons for assisting God and saving my life. With out them I would not be here today to write this! 

To learn more about SCAD and the SCAD Alliance research click here:

Stay blessed and much love, 

Lakisha Marie 


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