26 Jan From My Heart To Yours
My name is Nadia Colucci and I am a San Diego Native, current Encinitas resident and a local business owner. I am fiercely compassionate (which is a nod to my Italian roots) and I love all things active, challenging and social. However, most of that was halted about 3 years ago when my doctor found a heart murmur by surprise during a routine check-up. As a fairly young, healthy, athletic woman with no pain or symptoms causing me concern I, like many others, considered this murmur to be no big deal. I shared the disturbing news with family & a few friends and it turns out a lot of people have heart murmurs and continue on with them just fine, and sometimes they even go away! I thought without a doubt this would be the case for me.
I stayed positive and slightly naive pushing off my sonogram appointment for some time, and using my busy work schedule as an excuse to do so. Thankfully, my very persistent best friend kept reminding me, and a few months later I begrudgingly found myself in the waiting room for my first sonogram appointment. I will never forget the look on the technician’s face…the slight panic in his eyes which immediately caused my heart to sink (pun intended). Leaving that appointment I was officially diagnosed with a Mitral Valve Prolapse with severe regurgitation. Not moderate – SEVERE! I mean just that word is enough to freak anyone out…but I guess I don’t do much in moderation so it seemed pretty fitting. 😉
Having no prior symptoms I was shocked and frankly annoyed that I was having to deal with something so life altering and inconvenient. After countless doctor appointments, MRI’s, ultrasounds, heart monitors, and much more it became crystal clear that surgery was my only option to correct my condition. Luckily, because of my age and otherwise good health I was a candidate for the newest robotic surgery. This meant less downtime post surgery, getting me back to family, work, dance and beach volleyball much faster.
Trying to see the silver lining in it all, I prepared myself for the upcoming big day by decorating for Christmas early, so I could enjoy that during my recoup and thought hey, worst case scenario I don’t make it out alive, then my family has to deal with taking down all the decorations – because, let’s the be fair – that is the only bad part of Christmas. (A little fun fact: It was actually during my recovery time at home that I first had the wild idea to keep my tree up all year round! It brought me such comfort and joy during this hard time that I just couldn’t part with it. So, I decided why not just keep it up and redecorate it monthly highlighting each holiday and continue to bring cheer and joy year round. I often joke the idea literally came straight from the heart! Check out the madness at www.NorthCompassRealty.com/TREEmendous)
When I sat with my Cardiologist and he shared all the possible outcomes of such a long, invasive surgery…all I remember hearing were the words stroke and death. Really!? How could this be happening to me? My mind raced and my thoughts wandered, having lost my mom at an early age to breast cancer, the memory was tough to bear. I wanted to have the biggest pity party for myself, but thankfully my work as a Realtor was as busy as ever so I didn’t have the time. And, I’m a firm believer that God only gives us what he knows we can handle, and so from then on I did a lot of praying, a lot of positive thinking, and a lot of research.
I had an amazing team of doctors and I trusted them to guide me through. My Cardiovascular surgeon encouraged me to stay as active as normal and not to change much about my daily life before surgery. I was surrounded with great friends the Sunday prior to surgery and even played my last games of beach volleyball before being on the bench for a while. I went into surgery on November 27, of 2017. I was under anesthesia for roughly 10 hours and on the bypass machine for 90 minutes. Thankfully, I came out alive and well I like to think even better than before. In fact, when they were wheeling me out of surgery and I was slowly coming to…I asked if we were just about to get started…gotta love those heavy drugs!
Upon returning home I followed the doctor’s orders diligently. I did my light walking for exercise, stayed hydrated, and got plenty of rest. After 6 short weeks my heart was cleared and I was given the green light to work, dance, and play sports to my heart’s content!
I’m sincerely grateful that with this unexpected diagnosis, I was healthy and strong enough to bounce right back. Three years later, I can thankfully reminisce on this difficult experience and really see the silver linings and now pay it forward by sharing my story. I am forever grateful to my team of doctors who undoubtedly saved my life. Today, I am thriving with no symptoms or signs of heart issues and am still as active as ever. I take life and it’s challenges head on and wholeheartedly believe I’m living my best life!
I hope that I can be a reminder to men & women of all ages that it is so important to stay on top of your health care and have your physicals and heart checked annually. We can also be friendly reminders to our loved ones to do the same. It’s a 2 hour (max) checkup a year…there’s roughly 8,700 hours in a year…we can all squeeze that in 😉 Had I not been responsible to go to my routine doctor visit, I certainly could have had a very different outcome. I’ve heard so many sad stories since and I know hindsight is 20/20…but if me finally sharing my story helps even 1 person find out about an issue that could save their life…well then it was all worth it to me!
Appreciate you reading my story, and from the bottom of my heart to yours…thank you!
Now go schedule your appointment! 😉