Katie Coombs is a writer, speaker and radio show host in Reno, Nevada. She is a wife and busy mom to seven kids. Katie also has a chronic heart condition. She uses her experience to inspire others and give them hope.
On August 5, 2012, after nine years of living with supraventricular tachycardia, I was driving to meet a client at a restaurant and noticed that my heart was beating incredibly fast. I started feeling numbness in my arms and legs as I parked and was lucky that I had a blue tooth set up in my car when I called 911 as I couldn’t hold my phone. That was my first ambulance ride and with my husband out of town, I felt very alone and scared. It was also the first time I thought I was going to die from my heart condition leaving behind our blended family of six children.
Several months later, after repeated emergency room visits, I would have my second cardiac ablation. In this procedure they continued to inject adrenaline into my bloodstream and it created a feeling of terror I had never experienced. I was crying throughout and unfortunately they could not get my heart to go into the needed abnormal rhythm and find the pathways causing the problem. I left the operating room feeling like a failure and feeling like my life was over at age 40. I didn’t have any way to fix the problem and I was scared to even get in my car alone. A change in medication brought some stability, but many times I would be driving alone and my heart would go from 75 beats per minute to over 200 in an instant. I was determined to continue living the same life but it was getting harder.
On a drive home one night from the office I was stuck on a bridge and my irregular rhythm started. I decided then and there that it would not control me or change my life. It would not stop me from working and traveling and coaching. It would not take me away from my children. From that day forward, I vowed to take power over the situation and even though the problem comes and goes, I refuse to give into fear. I laugh at it or just feel slightly annoyed but never scared. It owned me for almost a decade but I took my life back and now it must deal with me rather than me dealing with it.
In February of 2017, I was honored to kick off the American Heart Month for the American Heart Association. I was a speaker at a press conference and after I told my story, strangers were coming up to me thanking me for giving them hope. One young man had stepped out of the elevator and stopped when he heard me speaking. He had just been diagnosed with a heart condition and said that hearing my story changed his paralyzing fear to hope. I didn’t realize until I started speaking for the American Heart Association that I could take this difficult health problem and turn it into something so positive. I have spoken several times this year and written about my story for several magazines. It has been healing to me to not only finally truly accept that I have a chronic condition, but realize that my experiences can provide hope to someone feeling scared and alone. There is a fulfilling life beyond cardiovascular problems. Taking back my life gave me the courage to have one more baby via a surrogate. We named him Miles to honor the journey we all take through good times and bad times. I now have seven children that are counting on me to continue to conquer and win!