[unscripted]: Nancy Wilkins' Story

In the fifth episode of [unscripted], our new patient video series, see how Nancy Wilkins' life went from being active and teaching dance one day, to having a heart attack the next. She was put into a medically-induced coma to address an issue in her heart and had to learn how to walk again. Today, she's back to doing everything she loves, including traveling and visiting her grandkids, and being a spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

This is Nancy's story, in her own words ... unscripted.

The growing up years

I grew up here but I wasn't born and raised here. I grew up down south, Mississippi. We moved here when I was like four, maybe six years old. I graduated from Courter Technical High School. I married to this wonderful man. I have two sons, Andre and Marcus. I have three grandsons. One granddaughter. We had a pretty good life, real good life, all way up until last year.

From dance to he
art attack

In December 2016 I had a heart attack, bypass heart attack, and at that time my life changed. Before that I was very active, I worked with the seniors, I line danced, I taught line dancing at all the rec centers; but it all came to a halt on Dec. 21, 2016. From that point, I had to redo my whole life.

They found out that my right heart was not pumping at all, so they had to put me in a coma and with that they had to use a machine, called the Impella*. With the help of the Impella, it started my heart back to beating.

*Our cardiologists ahave conducted the hospital’s first right-sided heart procedure using Impella RP®, the only percutaneous temporary ventricular support device FDA approved for right heart failure. Designed to provide minimally invasive, temporary support for patients with heart failure, the Impella technology allows us to provide more comprehensive, advanced-care options to patients with coronary disease. Impella allows patients like Nancy to recover from heart failure to use their native heart, which is ideal for quality of life.

Taking new steps

I stayed in a coma for a longtime. Coming out of that was another journey for me because I could not walk. I could not talk. I stayed on a breathing machine, ventilators, all the machinery's around me all the time; but each day that I was there on Two South, I went from not walking to walking. I went from getting out of the bed in a wheelchair, out of the wheelchair to a walker. I went from a walker to just walking on my own. All thanks be to the doctors using the Impella machine just to save my life, just to save my life.

Getting back to normal

I mostly went back to doing everything I was doing before I had the heart attack. Back to driving my car, traveling. My son works for the airlines so I can fly a lot. The one thing that I really got a little depressed about, it got to be June, my middle grandson, Adrian, was graduating from high school ... I'm going to cry ... and I wasn't sure if I was going to get to go, that was not nice. I cried a lot. But the doctors, all of them, agreed that I could go. That was about one of the best experience I could go through, with what I had gone through, was to go to the grad- ... I told them that wasn't going to be no good if I couldn't make that graduation, but they let me go, and it was good. It was good.

Nancy's advice

Just don't take anything for granted. Just whatever you going to do, and it's right, just do it. You never know what's going to come. If you get an opportunity and a chance to do something in your life, just do it. Yes, that's what I would say.

Click to view more inspiring and unscripted stories. Do you have a remarkable story that you'd like to share with us? Email our team! 

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