Broken Heart Syndrome Or Heart Attack? What You Should Know About Stress, Heartache & Your Health…

For some reason I may never understand, I have always had learn things the hard way. Today, at an ER with my twin sister, I would learn about Broken Heart Syndrome. While similar to Complicated Grief Syndrome, Broken Heart Syndrome specifically affects the heart. 

Stress cardiomyopathy, also referred to as “broken heart syndrome,” takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and apical ballooning syndrome, is a condition in which intense emotional or physical stress can cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness (cardiomyopathy).

Everyone in our family has died from a heart attack. Because of this, I’m well aware of the signs of a heart attack. From sudden pain to nausea, Cindy would exhibit far too many signs of a heart attack for me to not take her to the ER. Cindy declined an ambulance. Cindy argued about the ER but, Cindy is my priority.

For nearly eighteen years, Cindy and I have fought to get her daughter on the right track. For nearly 18 years now, late night phone calls scare us. Calls from jail and Stephaney screaming upset us and trying to look normal have become so stressful that Cindy has hypertension and although we both have anxiety prescriptions, we’ve never taken them regularly and have now learned that we should have. 

After fourteen months of dealing with my niece on her last dive into drug abuse, Stephaney has literally drug our families into depression, anxiety, and new health issues. 

Cindy and I are 54 years old and no longer young enough for Stephaney and her antics not to cause us a heart attack. For months now, I’ve worried about Cindy’s high blood pressure and her health. Protecting my twin is as high of a priority for me as it is for Stephaney’s twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna Mahaney. 

For months now, I’ve tried to control my own anxiety but, Cindy and I have both been to the ER for what we thought were heart attacks that weren’t. It wouldn’t be until today that a doctor told us about Broken Heart Syndrome. It wouldn’t be until this moment that we fully understood how trying to Save Stephaney was not only taking a toll on our family as a whole but also, specifically on my twin sister and I as well as Stephaney’s twin daughters who have also had numerous health issues for fourteen months. 

Both of the twins have been in and out of ER. Two weeks ago, Makenna thought she had a brain tumor and we took her to a neurologist at Cooks Children’s Hospital to alleviate her concerns. It would be while at Cook’s that calling Stephaney’s cell phone 22 hours after she went missing would ONCE AGAIN put our attention on Stephaney rather than Makenna who should have been a priority but as usual, was “trumped” by her idiotical mother. 

Maryssa and Makenna are now home schooled after months of Stephaney’s highly publicized shenanigans in Parker County last year made going to public school far too stressful. From Stephaney accusing construction workers of planting bombs to running across Cindy’s roof while we were at Star Testing with Makenna in Granbury, Stephaney has consistently caused us strife. CONSISTENTLY. 

It would in March of 2018 that a bus stop incident would start the cycle of Psych Wards for Stephaney. Stephaney out running wild and as usual, thinking she was Jesus Christ had spotted two children at a bus stop. In her psychotic delirium, Stephaney thought she was saving them from the end of the world. Her intent was never to harm those children. Stephaney has never hurt a child. 

Although Cindy and I had heard about the bus stop incident and were thankful the twins were being home schooled away from the shocking things occurring at school that had included a boy bringing a gun to school and now the bus stop incident on March 27th, nothing could have prepared us for a FB message in April from someone saying it “sounded like Stephaney.” The car, the description of the woman and the off behavior along with the fact that Stephaney had a paper license plate as described, was so deeply disturbing to Cindy and I that I drove to Weatherford.  

On April 11th, I left Fort Worth to drive to Cindy’s house, I was not even out of my car when police officers approached me. The police had still not found Stephaney on their own since the police report on March 27th regarding the bus stop. 

I asked “what’s going on?” The Weatherford PD officer advised me that “we believe your niece was involved at the bus stop incident. We also know she’s had a call from you. We need your help bringing her in.” 

I went upstairs to get Cindy. I had called Stephaney after reading a FB message that it might be her. I was terrified as to why she had asked two children to get in her car. Cindy was too. 

My legs as well as Cindy’s were shaking with police in her front yard and neighbors staring. Cindy had kicked Stephaney out in October. But, Stephaney still used Cindy’s address. 

What would’ve happened if those children had gotten into Stephaney’s car? I called my niece again and offered to buy her lunch as officers listened to the call. This would be the first time in my life I was forced to set my niece up. Scared to death of what she might do next though, Cindy and I had no choice. It was decided that Stephaney would meet her mother and I at the post office on Santa Fe. Cindy and I were nervous scared and yes, broken hearted. Stephaney pulled up and had time to talk to us before a virtual team of police officers surprised anyone else at the post office. 

I had asked Stephaney “why would you try to pick up those kids?” She said “they missed the bus and were out there alone. I didn’t want anything to happen to them.” I told her the police were looking for her and how upset we were about this bus stop business. Moments later, my niece realized that by asking those kids to get into her car was a mistake. Stephaney started crying. Stephaney for the first time in her life was suicidal. Officers walked up and handcuffed her. Cindy and I crying by the sidelines had no idea what would happen next. An officer told us they were transporting Stephaney to JPS Mental Health. Cindy knew that paying $300-400 again to towing services would be yet another financial hardship so, she asked officers “if she could take Stephaney’s car home?” 

Officers first searched the entire car. Throwing everything out of the vehicle as we watched and horrified post office visitors wondered “what the Hell was going on?” Cindy and I had just watched Stephaney be arrested. 

Cindy and I had also begged Stephaney to turn herself in. Cindy and I had wanted to feed Stephaney and talk to her but, Cindy and I were forced to set Stephaney up to prevent further surprises. We were horrified about the bus stop incident. We were frightened for those children and we had no idea what was going through Stephaney’s mind at the time she offered a ride to them.

The bus stop incident would start the revolving door of Psych Wards. No matter what Stephaney did, rather than jail,she was  committed only to be released over and over again. 

Our pain over “setting Stephaney up” to get her off the streets in Weatherford would be “tripled” by seeking a Mental Warrant last week. We had no choice. We couldn’t find her and knew she was a threat to herself. 

Stephaney has been arrested and transported back to JPS twelve times now. She gets out and the cycle starts over again. 

As I look back on the many times I’ve tried to Save Stephaney from herself, my heart literally aches. 

My son and Leigh Ann, Stephaney’s sister and cousin have been furious at Cindy and I for the amount of attention Stephaney’s negativity has consistently sucked Cindy and I into. 

Cindy and I have been through nearly a year and a half of misery topped off by Stephaney missing and ending with us searching 9 days to find her after obtaining a Mental Warrant. To say “our hearts are heavy” would actually be a true understatement. 

Today’s blog will explain how something minor brought my sister to her knees after trying to keep her chin up and remain hopeful about her daughter, Stephaney. 

Although we were relieved to finally get Stephaney in treatment, we are both shattered, nervous, and weak from the stress Stephaney has brought to our lives over and over again. 

For the many people who have contacted me to share their journey trying to save a loved one from their own choices as we have, I continue to pray you find peace. I continue to hope that one day your loved ones realizes what you’ve been through. I also pray that you realize and recognize signs of cardiomyopathy before suffering a heart attack. 

Last Friday, the day Cindy actually located Stephaney minutes later after buying gas, Cindy had used her debit card to get gas before finding spotting Stephaney less than five minutes later. 

Cindy forgot about using her card at the pump and by Sunday, Cindy was getting phone alerts for charges in Austin while she was in Weatherford. Cindy’s card information had been stolen while she was too nervous to remember card skimmer issues running wild in Texas. 

Cindy had sent me a text upset about this debit card breach on Sunday and I assured her we would go to the bank Monday together and resolve it. Although I knew my sister was upset about her card and her account, this has happened over and over when Cindy uses her card at the pump. 

Because she was exhausted after nine days of fearing finding Stephaney dead and ourMental  Warrant expiring, Cindy hadn’t taken the time to go inside to pay for gas and simply used the convenience of paying at the pump. We were on a tight timeline. 

One more problem while dealing with the guilt and grief about trying to find Stephaney for nine days would be all it took for my sister to become so depressed and devastated that a card fraud issue would keep her up all night Sunday. Trying to save Stephaney has devastated both my sister and I as well as Maryssa and Makenna. Trying to save Stephaney has also brought on other issues that we could have never anticipated. You can’t buy good health. It’s priceless. 

This morning while at Bank Of America with Cindy taking care of an issue regarding her debit card that was used at QT on Friday, my sister started having chest pains. 

Horrified, I ran to the SUV to get her Xanax. I also called our PCP and attempted to get a walk in EKG appointment. As usual, the person who shouldn’t be in a position to be answering the phone at Dr Richwine’s office did and declined “a morning appointment.” An appointment?!!! Dr Richwine’s office was five minutes from Bank Of America. Harris Hospital? Fifteen minutes. 

Cindy was nauseated and struggling to walk with the pain between her back and chest when not gagging as I drug her to my SUV and headed to Harris Hospital ER. Yes, I was terrified my sister would die before I got her to Harris. Yes, my heart was pounding. Yes, my greatest fear is losing my twin sister. 

I had left Cindy’s SUV at Bank Of America and without speeding, ran straight to the nearest hospital. 

Forcing her to sip water en route, I recalled a recent visit to the same hospital for the same reasons just last month. I thought I was having a heart attack after yet another phone call from my niece, Stephaney. 

Once admitted, a doctor ordered an EKG and chest X-ray. He also ordered Phentenal, Lorazapam and nausea medication. The Phentenal was for the stabbing pain running from Cindy’s breast to her back. The Lorazapam for her anxiety and the nausea medication to prevent her from vomiting and raising her already high blood pressure. Since I was aware she had taken a Xanax less than 25 minutes earlier, I suggested not giving her Lorazapam. I suggested that something for pain and nausea would best address her needs and, knowing her better than anyone in the room, I was right. 

Within an hour, Cindy was feeling better. She was able to breathe and talk and she had been diagnosed with Broken Heart Syndrome. 

Sunday, Cindy noticed odd charges to her checking account. Calling Bank Of America, Cindy would learn that while on the phone with BofA in Weatherford, someone was attempting to use her card number in Austin, Texas hours away. I knew that this credit card scammer ring after all we have been through with Stephaney this past year would be yet another nail in Cindy’s coffin of sad surprises, emotional baggage and the grief of being forced to commit her own daughter. 

Stephaney is alive but, her choices have created an environment of grief and sadness. For parents and families of addicts, grief, love and loss are all part of the process. 

The credit card skimmer situation was just too much. While talking to the bank representative and signing papers, my sisters pain was so intense that she was gagging while trying to alert me to an issue as I was in the bank lobby. 

We’ve had nearly a year and a half of sad surprises, sleepless nights and worrying about Stephaney. We’ve also had several issues. Cindy is now on high blood pressure medication and anxiety medication. 

Arriving at Harris Hospital, my sister was barely able to walk on her own. Scared to death, I signed her in and we were quickly escorted back to an EKG. Cindy was hyperventilating and trying not to vomit throughout the hospital visit. 

While contacting my husband and Cindy’s husband about updates, the doctor returned to ask some questions that would prove important because understanding why the EKG was clear with no blockage visible was confusing the ER doctor. 

I answered for Cindy and admitted that for fourteen months now, her daughter has drug Cindy and I through the ringer. From in and out of jail to in and out of Psych Wards to running away and missing for nine days, Stephaney has consumed our lives and our minds. 

Stephaney has upset nearly everyday of the last fourteen months and, Cindy as well as I have feared heart attacks while I was hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer and precancerous removal of my ovary only to find less than two months later that I had cysts in my left breast that might be cancerous. Dealing with an out of control family member takes a toll on your health. 

Eighteen years ago, Cindy and I were younger and better prepares to deal with Stephaney’s consistent arrests and drug use. Fifteen years ago, Stephaney was also pregnant with twins. Fifteen years ago, Cindy and I knew that by the time the twins were born, we would need to save them from Stephaney.

The twins gave us joy while Stephaney gave us grief. It’s clear to me after speaking with the ER doctor that Cindy’s hypertension and panic attack were wholly caused by dealing with her daughter. Stress affects your health but, as you get older, stress has a far greater impact on your health after 50. 

Broken Heart Syndrome affects women far more often than men. Menopausal women are the highest statistical victims of Broken Heart Syndrome. Cindy and I are both 54 and both in menopause. I had no idea that menopause affects stress levels but, it apparently does. 

Googling Broken Heart Syndrome and Heart Attacks, I was shocked to learn that this health condition is far more common than I ever realized. Fearful that I would lose my sister to a heart attack, I also understood that dealing with Stephaney could actually give Cindy and I both heart attacks. To get around this, I’m signing us up for counseling and we are both indefinetly going on medication to control hypertension and anxiety. 

I’m attaching an article that gives more information on the subject– Broken Heart Syndrome Caused By Grief And/Or Stress.

Cindy and I must put Stephaney out of our minds and focus on Stephaney’s twin daughters, our husbands and our families. 

Yesterday after leaving Harris ER, I drove Cindy to Dr Richwine. I was still lit that a heart attack wasn’t a priority to the receptionist. We’ve been going to him for fifteen years. But, I bit my tongue. 

While waiting on Cindy, I answer a call from my Allred Unit Client whose fiancé had been transferred to Goree Unit about possible dates on my schedule. I take another call from my Allred Unit Client regarding a mistake on an Absentee Affidavit. I take another call about Hughes Unit on Wednesday. 

I also review an email from a Production Company on my Texas Prison Wedding page on FB asking if I’m under contract? This is a regular occurrence with production companies. I schedule a call with the production company. 

Last week, I declined to film a documentary about “victims of drug use.” I advise the caller that “families are the real victims. My sister and I along with my multigenerational Texas Twins Events Team must go on. We have Clients who need us. We have Clients who HAVE altered their wedding dates to free up my schedule dealing with my niece. We don’t view Stephaney as a victim. Drug use is a choice. We didn’t choose to have an addict in our family. Stephaney’s twin daughters didn’t choose to have an addict for a mother. My sisters, brother and I didn’t choose to have an addict for a mother. Months ago, Dr Phil wanted us on his show with Stephaney. I declined after learning that Dr Phil wanted to put Stephaney on a pedestal and accuse us for somehow being responsible for Stephaney destroying OUR lives not hers. Dr Phil’s producers told Cindy and I to pay outstanding warrants for Stephaney to get help. Dr Phil’s producers didn’t disclose that Dr Phil “may or may not put Stephaney into treatment” until AFTER we had paid fines that would have put Stephaney safely in jail awaiting a criminal trial. There are plenty of victims here but, the victim isn’t my niece. The victims are her family members. I appreciate you taking the time to call me but, this painful matter isn’t something I want turned around to hurt her family. We have been hurt enough already.” I meant it.

The other production company is interested in how I make Texas Twins Events, Texas Twins Treasures & The Pawning Planners work. They are interested in how we manage to juggle work and family. They are interested in the dynamics of work and family going together hand and hand. They have taken the time to read all of my blogs and understand our journey. Because of this, I’ve scheduled a conference call with them on Tuesday at 10AM.

Leaving Dr Richwine’s, Cindy and I go to Kinkos to make copies of Stephaney’s numerous arrests and mistakes. Cindy and I are upset that Parker County refuses to put Stephaney into a 24 month meth rehab program that criminal courts offer. 

Cindy and I have decided to send the evidence to the State Attorney. Cindy and I are desperate to get Stephaney out of our lives and get some resolution and peace. We are determined to do whatever we have to in order to stop trying to Save Stephaney. 

Regarding orders for TDCJ Watch Caps and other sizes of TDCJ Apparel in my Texas Twins Treasures storefront, I will be ordering and listing new items in January. My December is overwhelming and I haven’t had time to replace stock. I apologize for the delay. 

The rest of my month is booked solid addressing client needs and finding a long term option for dealing with Stephaney. I need to finish Christmas shopping for my three grandnieces who are looking forward to Sugar Plum Fairies and the happiness their twin MeMe’s have lost over this Stephaney Situation. 

Cindy and I are trying to get back to the gym in our spare time and stop focusing on Stephaney and instead BEGIN focusing on the twins, our families, our Clients and our health. Harris Hospital was a wake up call for the Texas Twins.

Sometimes even warriors need to rest…