In my years as a prosecutor, I saw plenty of violence, including many deaths. Some were accidental, but some were the work of killers, even serial killers. I have always been fascinated by serial killers. How do they choose their victims? How is it that they can take a life so easily? I studied them, tried to understand their behavior. None of that prepared me for the day I met a serial killer of a different sort — a medical one with the ominous name "the widowmaker" — that had come for me.
On Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, I suddenly became wide awake at 5 a.m. I lay in bed with my eyes open for maybe a minute, thinking, "Hmm, this is weird," and then, "I feel kind of funny." Within about 30 seconds I rushed to the bathroom and threw up. I felt very cold and climbed back into bed with my husband and snuggled back under the covers. A minute later, though, I knew I was going to be sick again. I figured I was coming down with a virus, but it was strange how suddenly it had come on.
My husband, Tim, was concerned. He sat beside me, felt my cold, clammy forehead and said I just looked so pale. Then he whispered, "Let's go to the emergency room." I laughed. "Why?" I asked. He replied, "You could be having a heart attack."
Tim's father had died of a heart attack at age 64 after feeling the classic stabbing chest pain and heaviness in the chest that you always associate with a heart attack. But that wasn't me. I was 46, I just had a bit of a bug, probably a 24-hour thing. I just needed a little rest. Tim wouldn't have it, though.
And so 30 minutes later we walked into the emergency room at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where half-jokingly I said, "My husband thinks I may be having a heart attack."