Tia was simply too young to be having a heart attack, and certainly not on Christmas Day. At 45 years old, the lifelong Westerly resident chalked up the pain in her back and shortness of breath to holiday stress or perhaps a cold coming on. After all, she had 25 people at the house on Christmas Eve.
The next day, pain medications did nothing to help. Tia struggled through an afternoon at the casino with friends, but she began to worry. Finally, a trip to a local urgent care center proved she was not too young for a life-threatening event.
“The doctor said part of my heart wasn’t working,” Tia recalled. “He said he was calling an ambulance to take me to Lawrence and Memorial (L+M) Hospital.”
Brian Cambi, MD, an interventional cardiologist at L+M, explained what happened next: “We had a team waiting for Tia,” he said. “She made the right decision seeking medical help, because we were able to open her blocked artery and put in a stent.”
Tia still marvels at the experience. “L+M was phenomenal,” she said. “It was like everything you see on TV was happening to me!”
Two days later, Tia was home. Soon thereafter, she entered the Cardiac Rehab program at Westerly Hospital. “Rehab was very welcoming,” she said. “I knew if anything went wrong, they would catch it, because I was still very scared.”
Today, fully recovered, Tia says the experience changed her life, physically and philosophically. “I walk six days a week now and I avoid fried foods,” she said. “But, I’ve also made a pact with myself not to stress out. Instead, I want to focus on today, because every day is special. I want to focus on my son and my husband. I want to do more things as a family.”