Image Gal Samantha von Sperling runs in the American Heart Association Heart Walk in New York City today. Here is her continued story on how she saved her heart! To make a donation to her run, visit Samantha’s Heart Walk page.
I worried, I prayed, I meditated and counted backwards till I was out.
Hours later when I woke up, Dr. Coppola came in to see me. He said, “YouΓÇÖre an angel. In thirty years as a cardiologist, I have never seen a heart like yours; so strong. Both of your arteries were blocked; that’s 50 percent of your heart. I had to put three stents in your heart immediately. ItΓÇÖs actually a miracle that you had this for five days and are still here. The only explanation I can give is that all your years of exercise created other passageways for blood to flow.”
A wave of shock washed over me. In the Latina community, sometimes exercise is put on the backburner for more pressing issues. But I’ve always made it a priority. I tried to process that while I was forever changed, but it was what I had done forever that saved me.
The doctor said I would be released the next day. Of course, being me I wanted out by 10 a.m. for a video shoot. “Samantha do you understand that you just had heart surgery?” the doctor declared.
Yes, I did understand, and it was the best birthday present ever.
The good news? With the latest generation of stents I only had to take Plavex for a year. I have to take other medications for my cholesterol religiously and follow my diet carefully. But since I’m still here and get a second chance, I want the rest of my life to be happy and meaningful.
With the help of few more doctors and a cardio rehab program I lost some of the stress-related weight I had been carrying and was able to run the American Heart Association Wall street 5K just 9 months after the stents were put in, the same one I’m running in again today.
I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I run a 5k four times a week along with some other exercise. I follow a pescatarian, gluten-free, and casein-free diet. I want to share my story with other Latina women and beyond to raise awareness and hopefully help others.
This is why I run, because I still can.