Around 7 years ago I was nearing the end of my first pregnancy when I was hospitalised with sustained Atrial Fibrillation (AF). I was very sick and this was serious for both myself and my unborn child.
Luckily I cheated surgery and a heart re-starter (defibrillator) by half an hour. Through oral medications, they managed to get my heart back into sinus rhythm.
I remained in hospital in critical care and delivered a healthy baby girl via cesarean a week later.
The following days should have been the happiest of my life. However, through further testing, the Doctors were able to determine the underlying cause of my early heart failure.
I have Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC). This means the lower left chamber of my heart is malformed and does not pump correctly.
It is congenital, meaning it’s genetic. I was born with it. This now made so much of my life make sense.
I first complained of heart palpitations at age 16. My mother only recently reminded me of a time when she had her hands on my chest and she said my heart felt like it was going to jump out because it was pounding so hard.
Unfortunately for me, my newly diagnosed heart condition was only discovered in the early 2000s. The doctors at the time were not able to determine to cause of my fainting and heart palpitations, so I was sent away and told to chill out and take a yoga class.
Suddenly my first days of becoming a mother became filled with fear and a life sentence.
I was told the greatest risk of LVNC is sudden death and stroke. I was handed a huge array of pills and urged to have a defibrillator (worse than a pacemaker), inserted into my chest and wired to my heart for life.
This would then require a 5 yearly surgery to change batteries and a 10 yearly surgery to re-wire the device. Oh, and they don’t take the old wires out. So goodness knows how many old wires would be floating around my heart by the time I’m 60!
With such an overwhelming amount of terrifying information, I became too afraid to fall asleep at night in case I didn’t wake up.
The biggest problem with my condition is that there is not a lot of research about it. The doctors simply don’t know how to treat it.
There is no specific drug that is proven to help and there is no cure. At the time there was really only documented information about severe cases. When I say severe, I mean fatal.
The only recommended therapy at the time was device insertion (defibrillator), as an insurance policy.
After a year of several hospital admissions, a couple of surgeries,
Unluckily for me, I suffered a major arterial hemorrhage 10 days post surgery. They could not stop the internal bleeding, or infuse blood quick enough. I lost around 4 of the 5 litres of blood we have and very nearly lost my life. The surgery that was supposed to save me nearly killed me.
Once recovered, I travelled over to the Mayo Clinic in the US. I spent a week going through various testing, speaking to every heart and genetic specialist in that place and concluded that for now, I would not go back down the defibrillator path.
I still don’t know my long-term prognoses, but after 7 years I have had to learn to live with this. I’ve had too many hospital admissions to count and around 200 or so days in a hospital.
I cherish every day. I cherish my now two daughters. I write them letters should anything ever happen to me. I take care of myself.
Life is so precious. I always feel like I’ve truly ‘lived.’ However, experiences like mine make you want to live even more.
I've created this page because I want to make a difference. I'm inspired by the work of Heart Foundation and wanted to support them by raising money as part of my participation in My Marathon 2018.
Please help me help them by giving whatever you can
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my story and for your generosity, it means a lot!
Kelly Landry is a well-known Television personality, Radio Broadcaster and Writer.
Most known for her travels on Getaway, Kelly began her career modelling around the world. Her love for travel made her a natural fit as a presenter on Getaway. She has hosted and appeared on many other shows such as Wipeout, Talk to the Animals, Today Show Weather, Daily Edition, Studio 10, to name just a few.
Kelly has worked extensively across radio hosting the number 1 show House of Wellness and Talking Travel on the national Macquarie Radio Networks.
Her love of writing has seen her articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country, including Habitats, House of Wellness Magazine, Newidea, Women's Weekly and many more.
Kelly has used her position to work with many charities during her career. She founded the Loyal Ladies Lunch Fundraiser for the Loyal Foundation and through her contribution has raised vital funding and helped provide millions of dollars of Paediatric Medical Equipment for hospitals around the country.
Most recently Kelly became the National Ambassador for the Heart Foundation. Her personal story makes her a passionate advocate for Heart Health. Though her work, she hopes to create more awareness into Heart Health, while raising vital funds for research. Heart Disease is currently the number one killer of ALL Australians.
For donations or to get involved please head to www.heartfoundation.org.au