Brenda began experiencing off-and-on symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath in 2010. She was later treated for pneumonia by her Ascension Sacred Heart primary care doctor, who continued to monitor her breathing issues.
“I had a very challenging, stressful job working as a reading teacher so I always related [my symptoms] to my job,” said Brenda, who retired in 2015 because her symptoms interfered with her job. “I noticed I couldn’t read out loud, I was coughing a lot and was short-winded, and it got to the point where I couldn’t even finish a sentence because I was so short of breath. I also felt very sweaty.”
In early 2020, she felt something was seriously wrong. “I would wake up at night and couldn’t catch my breath,” she said. She also recalled being unable to walk through the grocery store as she normally did. The pandemic made her hesitant to schedule medical appointments, but the odd symptoms persisted.
One day in October, she began feeling nauseous and experienced sharp pains in her chest. By the time she and her husband arrived at the ER at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola, her symptoms had diminished. Doctors ran additional tests with no definitive results.
Knowing her family history of heart problems, her primary doctor suspected a heart issue and referred her to cardiologist Dr. James Williams. Brenda said her appointment with Dr. Williams was a turning point, revealing the cause of her symptoms. “Dr. Williams was very thorough; he ran his own tests,” she recalled. Dr. Williams said an electrical problem with her heart caused heart failure and sent her to see Dr. Asim Ahmed, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Ascension Sacred Heart.
Dr. Williams prescribed medications to strengthen Brenda’s heart and a few months later, she underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker to resynchronize the heart. “Within a couple of weeks, I was feeling better,” Brenda said. “I’m here by the grace of God! And I have had the best care. I prayed that God would send me to the right doctor at the right time who would be concerned and listen to me. Dr. Williams was my angel and Dr. Ahmed was my lifesaver.”
Brenda has a whole new appreciation for life now. “I feel like I have no limitations now. I’m walking and swimming. Things I avoided before, I could start doing again. Before the surgery, I couldn’t carry a laundry basket through my house to the laundry room! Now I go to the park and play with my granddaughter.”
Through it all, Brenda advocated for herself, searching for the right doctor and diagnosis and insisting that something was wrong until she got answers. She found Dr. Ahmed’s team very personable, caring and helpful with her many questions. In addition, it gave her great peace of mind knowing the staff at Ascension Sacred Heart monitored her pacemaker around the clock.
“Dr. Ahmed has the best bedside manner,” Brenda said. “He was very concerned. I knew I was in good hands.”