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Facing Heart Disease – “I have never had anything this serious.”

This summer Neva Terry will celebrate her 73rd birthday in June. The following month marks her second anniversary since being diagnosed and treated for heart disease. “My only hope was to live at least a month to see my middle grandson marry,” admits Neva of being told she had severe heart block. “Now it has been two years in July!”

Neva woke the morning of July 11, 2012 and couldn’t breathe. She went to the Emergency Department at Hillcrest Medical Center and was quickly transported to the catheterization lab at Oklahoma Heart Institute where cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. David Sandler implanted a pacemaker and defibrillator. Heart block is a type of arrhythmia that slows or disrupts the electrical signal through the heart. The pacemaker and defibrillator help keep the heart beating regularly without disruption. “I’ve never had anything this serious,” admits Neva.

Of her three-day stay in ICU, Neva says she was especially thankful when the nurses were happy to oblige her 3 a.m. request to get up and walk. “Everyone was really kind to me,” she adds. “Everyone at the heart failure clinic is wonderful!”

Today Neva says she is gaining strength and feeling better. From follow-up visits with Dr. Sandler she has learned her heart function has improved from 20 to 25 percent to 45 to 50 percent. However, she still lives with heart disease – a fact that was difficult to initially process. “It took me months to say congestive heart failure or heart block,” she adds. “I was in denial.”

While July 11, 2014 is a day she will certainly celebrate, Neva says now every day should be celebrated. “I count every day a blessing,” she says. “I have good days and bad days, but I have days.”