(Pictured) Holly Menning is back at home with her husband, Aaron, and daughters Cori and Hannah.
Holly Menning, 40, is a mom of two, a devoted wife, a homeschooling teacher and a beekeeper, among many other things. On March 23, 2018, she received another title – heart attack survivor. A title that would turn her world upside down.
“It was quite shocking to find out I had come so close to losing my life so quickly,” Holly said.
Her day started like any other normal day: get her two daughters (ages 11 and 10 months old) ready for the day, take them on a field trip to Ibis Bakery, then come home and prepare meals for the rest of the week. But as she was preparing the chicken for dinner, she noticed a feeling of indigestion that wasn’t normal.
“It was like the worst pregnancy heartburn I’ve ever had,” Holly said. “It was a burning sensation that would not go away and began to feel like it was constricting my chest, almost to the point where I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.”
Holly knew something was wrong. Her husband rushed her to the Olathe Medical Center ER, which was a close drive from Holly’s home in Gardner. Her symptoms began at home at 5:50 p.m. and by 6:12 p.m., the emergency care staff had confirmed she was having a heart attack.
“That is a short period of time for your whole world to change,” Holly said.
Holly was having a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) – a very rare and life-threatening condition. The emergency physicians and cardiologists at Olathe Medical Center quickly recognized Holly’s case was rare, and they had to treat it differently than an ordinary heart attack.
“A spontaneous coronary artery dissection occurs when there is a tear in the lining of the coronary artery, and Holly’s tear involved a very important artery – the left main coronary artery, which is essential for survival,” Michael Meurer, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Olathe Health Kansas Heart and Lung Surgeons, said. “Holly’s dissection blocked off the blood flow to the front artery of her heart, the anterior descending coronary artery and it also severely compromised blood flow to the left side. We performed a two-vessel bypass on Holly, one to the front surface of the heart and one to the left side of the heart.”
Holly said she had a 90 percent blockage in one artery and a 100 percent blockage in the other, giving her roughly a two percent chance of survival. She made it through the surgery without any complications. A team of skilled medical professionals – including catheter lab staff and nurses in the CCU unit – helped Holly recover and go home.
“The staff at Olathe Medical Center really made us feel comfortable,” Kristin Cory, Holly’s mom, said. “They let us know it was severe, but they didn’t make it seem so severe they couldn’t handle it. It’s a miracle she survived and I will forever be grateful to Dr. Meurer and the staff at Olathe Medical Center for saving my daughter’s life.”
Because of her major surgery, Holly had a five-pound lifting restriction, which was a tall order considering she had a 10-month-old daughter at home. Holly’s husband and extended family stepped in to help.
“My husband and family have been amazing,” Holly said. “I have about half the energy I used to have and still have all the responsibility so my husband has done a wonderful job taking care of our girls, taking care of me and making sure all the little things I used to do get done.”
Now several months later with the help of Cardiac Rehabilitation at OMC, Holly is feeling healthy and happy. Although it will still take some time for her to reach her full strength again, she’s grateful to be alive.
“It’s such a rare thing to have happen and the fact that there was a doctor on staff that not only knew what it was, but to diagnose it so quickly was just amazing,” Holly said. “I’m so thankful to have Olathe Medical Center so close and that they saved my life.”
Holly is now part of the SCAD Alliance. Learn more about SCAD and the SCAD Alliance.