My name is Christie Reinhardt and thank you for allowing me to share my story. I was 31 years old and pregnant with twin girls. I would have described myself as a lot of things…happy, healthy, a wife, a mom of a 3-year old boy and a 2 year old girl, but as a heart patient? It never crossed my mind. During my pregnancy, I woke up in the middle of the night with intense chest pains. I called for my husband, Robert, who was sleeping in the bedroom down the hall. (I’m a bit of a snorer while pregnant). I told him I don’t know what’s wrong, but I have to get to the hospital! He rushed me to the ER at the local hospital where they gave me a series of heartburn and indigestion medicine and 2 shots of Demerol for the pain. My blood pressure was 180/120 when I went in, but lowered after a few hours, and my EKG results were normal. I was finally able to get some rest and went home with 2 prescriptions for heartburn.
Two weeks later, I woke up in the morning with severe with chest pains, worse than the last time. I sat up and became very dizzy. Before passing out, I called for my husband. He said when he came in the room I was very pale, my lips were blue, and I had swallowed my tongue. Luckily, he was home that morning to dial 911 or my story would have ended here. Everyone in the parish with a scanner showed up to help, EMS, volunteer fire dept., our house was full of people within minutes. They loaded me in the ambulance as I was yelling in pain. I was told they had to regulate my heart but could not locate either fetal heartbeat.
I remember a few moments in the operating room before I was put under anesthesia to deliver the babies. It took 20 seconds for Dr. Griffin to perform the C-section. Both babies had to be resuscitated, but one of my twin girls, Lydia did not respond. My husband and I thank God for taking her to him. She has never felt anything but love as she grew and resides forever in God’s love now.
The doctors told my family I had an aortic dissection, there was a surgery they could try, but I had a less then 10% chance of survival. They brought my husband and parents in to see me right before the surgery to say their final words. Dr. Thurston performed the open-heart surgery while my family prayed. After repairing the damage, my heart was left on bypass for several hours to let it rest, then they restarted my heart. The next milestone was to take me off the respirator if I woke up. My husband put out a prayer request on Facebook that went viral. Thousands of people from all over began praying for me and Brianna, my surviving twin daughter.
Brianna was in the NICU and had swelling of the brain. The doctors told my husband of a revolutionary blanket at the Woman’s hospital NICU that lowers the body to hypothermic temperature to reduce swelling and seizures.
Altogether, Bri had about 9 seizures before they got the swelling under control. After an MRI, she was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which is scarring of the brain due to the lack of oxygen. We can expect developmental delays in the future and she will possibly be prone to seizures.
I woke up about 24 hours after the surgery with tape over my eyes and a tube in my throat. I waved my arms around to get the nurse’s attention. I motioned for the babies, but she did not understand. I pointed to my ring finger and at first she thought I wanted to know where my ring was, but then she realized I wanted my husband. She took the tape off my eyes, but they were very blurry due to swelling, and took the tube out so I could talk. Robert came by my side and I immediately asked about the babies, he said “Brianna is going to be just fine”. Then I asked about Lydia and he told me, “She didn’t make it”. I fell apart. The rest of the family came in to see me and everyone was relieved to see me awake and alive. I asked for a drink of water, the nurse asked if I wanted juice as well. Then I asked for a Coke, the nurse wouldn’t bring me one, but it was a good sign that I was feeling better. While in ICCU, the staff brought Lydia’s body to me and my husband. I was able to hold her and say my goodbyes.
I was discharged from the hospital 6 days after my surgeries and Brianna was discharged from the NICU 20 days after her birth on my birthday. She has been my favorite birthday present to date.
So today, I would describe myself as mostly the same things…happy, healthy, wife, mom, and now, a heart patient. I am so thankful for this second chance at life God has given me.
I am alive today because of contributions made at luncheons like this in the past. My future and the future of my children depends on the decisions you make today. Please open your heart today to support Go Red for Women.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
10:00am - 1:30pm
Lafayette Hilton Hotel
1521 West Pinhook Road
Lafayette, Louisiana 70503