Meet the Survivors: Karen

My name is Karen Aldana. One Sunday night in March of 2005, I was feeling restless and just couldn’t sleep. I got up and started doing laundry and things around the house until it was time to get ready for work. I was still feeling off and my stomach was upset but, other than that, I was fine. My co-worker came in and after a bit he asked me if I was OK. “Of course,” I replied, but he didn’t believe me and covertly called my daughter to tell her he was concerned about me. My daughter asked me to meet her in Poulsbo for a quick check at the doctor’s office. Grudgingly, I agreed and met her at the Urgent Care clinic in Poulsbo. They did a 6 lead ECG and told me that I had a funny sinus rhythm but, seemed to be fine. They told me to go to Harrison Hospital in Silverdale to get a 12-lead ECG for my records.

We walked in the door of the Silverdale hospital and I asked for directions to the Emergency Room. I got about 1/2 way down the hall of the hospital and down I went. I clutched my chest, called my daughter’s name and collapsed. A code team showed up within seconds, and there I was with a full blown heart attack on the floor of the hospital with all of the staff from the ER working on me. They hit me with the paddles 3 times and got a non-adequate heart beat back, set me up with an IV of potassium and then shuttled me to the main hospital in Bremerton, with Dr. Morris, doing CPR on me all the way to the hospital. I now have a stent in my left descending ventricular artery.

I spent 5 days in the ICU and 3 days on the Cardiac Floor and went to 3 months of Cardiac Rehab and have been going ever since. I now work out regularly, walk, do all of my own work around the yard and I still work full time. I have since, had three wonderful grandchildren. I am truly grateful to everyone who helped me through the process and I thank God for giving me a strong, healthy body to help me recuperate from this experience. I am truly blessed.

My heart episode was a life changing event. It showed me that the control that I felt was important to me and that I commanded in my life is just an illusion. This life can be taken away at anytime by unforeseen forces totally beyond any control that we may exert. It has allowed me the opportunity to re-prioritize my duties and responsibilities with my enjoyment and love of family and dear friends. I am always cognizant of the fact that, when I am speaking to a loved one, it could be the last conversation that I have with them and I always make sure they know how important they are to me. Duties and responsibilities are important, but loved ones are the most important connections that we have on this earth. They are to be treasured at all times.

I am looking forward to the whole fashion show experience. This is so different from anything that I have ever done. I am praying that I won’t trip or goof up, somehow, but, I am more excited to experience the whole day, start to finish. What a blessing to be selected to be a part of this. Also, I am very excited to be participating with a group that is getting information out to the public about women’s heart health. Women need to know that they should listen to their bodies and not feel foolish for having something as benign as “uneasiness” checked out.

Living Life Beautifully is about living in harmony within your world. Treasuring loved ones. So many are fighting so many personal battles. Believe me, I am far from perfect, but, each day I try to go forward gently and in harmony with my surroundings.Life is beautiful and should be appreciated as an incredible gift.

See Karen and our nine other survivors walk the runway at the GJ Fall Event ‘Live Life Beautifully on November 12, 2014 at EMP Seattle. All proceeds benefit The Hope Heart Institute and Northwest heart health education. Tickets are on sale through November 9. Buy your ticket online today at