A Life-Changing Experience Inspires a Major Career Shift
Now a South College pre-nursing student, Heather Meyer used to work in a stressful corporate job. She began each week with a pit in her stomach as she considered the client meetings, agency pitches, and long hours ahead. Yet, one Monday in February 2016 brought a different, more serious feeling: increasingly agitating chest pain.
At only 40 years old, Heather was an extremely active person who exercised daily and followed a vegetarian diet. She had no reason to think she was unhealthy, and she assumed that her pain was nothing to worry about. However, before long, the pain became so great that her husband rushed her to the closest hospital.
After a few hours in the emergency room, her assumptions were proven wrong; Heather had Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). SCAD, according to the American Heart Association, is a rare disease most common in women with few to no risk factors for heart disease. With SCAD, the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart separate, obstructing the heart’s normal blood flow. This separation can cause chest pain, heart attack, and even sudden death.
Two emergency surgeries saved Heather’s life, but full recovery has taken longer. She was in and out of the hospital with recurring complications such as pericarditis – the inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the heart – four separate times after her surgery. Now, over two years later, Heather feels she’s finally on a path to wellness.
After surviving this harrowing experience, Heather’s perspective on her life and career shifted and she began to realize the importance of following her dreams. “The near-death experience of my Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection sparked a desire in me to stop procrastinating and to start pursuing my passions of helping others,” says Heather. “The only time I felt better was when I was giving back.”
At first, Heather chose to pursue fitness and nutrition coaching and became a Certified Personal Trainer. After a couple of years of coaching, she still wanted to do more. Influenced by her mother’s long-time career, Heather decided to pursue nursing and enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at South College.
“My mother has been a nurse for many years. Her passion for her patients and assisting others inspires me every day,” she reflects. “Pursuing my BSN provides me with the opportunity to help others through a hands-on experience where I can engage with patients, build relationships, and see the results.”
Now in her third quarter of the AS Health Science (Pre-Nursing) program, Heather enjoys her classes and interacting with her advisor, classmates, and instructors at South College. “I wanted a school with a small classroom environment where I could have access to my professors and one that was close to home, so attending South College was an easy decision,” she says.
Once she’s admitted to the nursing major and finished with her BSN program, Heather hopes to provide care for other cardiac patients. Eventually, she plans to become a Nurse Practitioner, something she is also considering pursuing at South College.