Family, friends ease heart-attack shock

Danette Dooley
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Juanita Lidster sits with her two boys, seven-month-old Luc and 13-year-old Jordan. Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

On July 12, 2008, Juanita Lidster delivered a healthy baby boy. Three weeks later, open heart surgery saved her life.
"Five days after I brought Luc home, it was five o'clock in the morning and I had just nursed him," the 38-year-old says. "I put him back in his cradle and I went to get back in bed and I took a pain in my chest."
She brushed her symptoms off as heartburn or acid reflux. But when the pain started to crush into her chest, Lidster began thinking "heart attack."
"I started getting afraid and I was thinking if I was having a heart attack that something was supposed to happen to your arms. As soon as that thought entered my head, both of my arms started to go weak and numb."
Lidster and her family live in Cupids Crossing.
She was taken by ambulance to Carbonear hospital. She spent five days there before being taken by ambulance to the Health Sciences Centre for more tests.
On the way her condition worsened, leaving her close to death.
"If I hadn't gone in that ambulance they said I wouldn't have made it. I was supposed to have a dye test, but as soon as they saw me I was on the operating table."
Lidster had four blockages to her heart. Her left main artery had also self-dissected, she says.
"My cardiologist told me there was a one-in-a-million chance that this could happen … I still look at the scar on my chest and can't believe what's happened."
Lidster has a 13-year-old son, Jordan. Her fiancÉ, Richard Maheu, has a 15-year-old daughter, Emma.
Lidster is grateful to her family, especially her mother, who looked after her baby while she was in hospital and recovering from the surgery.
"One of the hardest parts of this for me was that I had to give up breastfeeding. I was devastated about that because I'd nursed my other child until he was almost two."
Not being able to hold her infant was also very emotional, she says.
"I couldn't even lift my baby so he had to stay at my mother's. Every time I saw him I just cried because I felt so guilty."
Lidster says looking back on her life now she wonders if the stresses of her pregnancy, including the fact that her fiancÉ was working in Western Canada, contributed to her heart attack.
Whether or not that's true, she feels she's been given a second chance in life.
Since her surgery, she has changed her lifestyle. She quit smoking and revamped her diet in favour of heathier food.
Lidster gushes over the support she received outside her immediate family. She believes a Facebook prayer group set up by a friend helped in her recovery.
"Over 700 people joined the group. I had people chanting for me in England. And when I was in the hospital I was so blown away to hear about the group."
Lidster is working on her first solo album. Her fellow musicians who came out for a local benefit concert, including the Sons of Erin who came from St. John's to offer their support.
"Musicians come together especially when another musician is down. Even people I didn't know came out for the benefit and that was so overwhelming," she says.
A portion of the proceeds from Lister's CD will be donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, she says.
"This is an opportunity for me to give something back to the cause for the tremendous care I got," she says.
Jodine Kean, director of health promotion and resuscitation programs with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland, says people need to realize that heart disease is not just a man's disease.
"Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death among women, killing one in three," Kean says.
Women face the same risks and symptoms of heart disease and stroke as men, Kean adds, but women often ignore the symptoms thinking they are hormone-related.
Chest pain or discomfort, pain the arm, neck, jaw or back, nausea, indigestion or vomiting, sweating and difficulty breathing are all signs of a heart attack, Kean says.
"If a person experiences any of these warning signs, they should call 911 or the emergency response number in their area immediately," she adds.
The good news, Kean says, is that most risk factors can be controlled and women can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 80 per cent by making lifestyle changes.
"I look at Luc and he's such a happy and healthy baby," Lidstone says. "And I need to do everything I can to stay healthy myself, to be here for my family."

danette@nl.rogers.com


Organizations: Carbonear hospital, Health Sciences Centre, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Luc, Cupids Crossing, Western Canada England St. John's Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Carol Ann
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Juanita is my first cousin and very much like a sister to me...When we first learned of this episode in her life, we were all just stunned...how could a strong, healthy, young woman who had just given birth, be having open heart surgery to save her life? It just didn't make sense to us! Juanita is an amazing woman with an amazing talent and an amazing family...I'm just so glad that the world will now get the chance to learn of her courage and pray that everyone who reads this story will be more proactive with their own health.
    Juanita, may you live to be 100 and may the world finally get a chance to see you shine through your music the way we always knew you would...
    Love you and God Bless.

  • Kevin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    A good news story for sure. The Lidster family has certainly had more than their share of tragedy and sorrow in the more than 50 years that I have know some of the family. My best wishes for continued good heath.

  • Stephen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    As VP for the Heart and Stroke Foundations of Newfoundland and Labrador I encourage everyone to cut and paste this article into an email and send it to every Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt or friend in your life. It may just save one of them. Thank you to Juanita and her family for sharing this story and Danette for writing it. Best of luck and please visit. www.heartandstroke.ca.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Heart disease is now a lifestyle?!? The cardiologist said this was all one in a million. But the Heart And Stroke people tell us that if you feel a pain in your arm then that might be a heart attack....CALL 911!! Come off it. Honestly, how many younge women suffered heart attacks in Newfoundland last year? Do you keep statistics? This kind of fear mongering might be good for the health INDUSTRY but is it healthy to scare people needlessly? We should all live more healthy lives. That means less needless fear.

  • Jenelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Having the opportunity of growing up with the Lidster family, I feel every word that was said in this article, the entire family has to be the most generous that you could ever meet and never forget.
    So glad that Juanita is home with her beautiful family and to see that they are happy, the road to recovery is a long one but the family support is even longer.
    Cheers to the Lidster family and Juanita and her extended family & friends.

  • Randall
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    This lady is very lucky, she got out of Carbonear hospital in the nick of time and got to St. John's.

  • Carol Ann
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Juanita is my first cousin and very much like a sister to me...When we first learned of this episode in her life, we were all just stunned...how could a strong, healthy, young woman who had just given birth, be having open heart surgery to save her life? It just didn't make sense to us! Juanita is an amazing woman with an amazing talent and an amazing family...I'm just so glad that the world will now get the chance to learn of her courage and pray that everyone who reads this story will be more proactive with their own health.
    Juanita, may you live to be 100 and may the world finally get a chance to see you shine through your music the way we always knew you would...
    Love you and God Bless.

  • Kevin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    A good news story for sure. The Lidster family has certainly had more than their share of tragedy and sorrow in the more than 50 years that I have know some of the family. My best wishes for continued good heath.

  • Stephen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    As VP for the Heart and Stroke Foundations of Newfoundland and Labrador I encourage everyone to cut and paste this article into an email and send it to every Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt or friend in your life. It may just save one of them. Thank you to Juanita and her family for sharing this story and Danette for writing it. Best of luck and please visit. www.heartandstroke.ca.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Heart disease is now a lifestyle?!? The cardiologist said this was all one in a million. But the Heart And Stroke people tell us that if you feel a pain in your arm then that might be a heart attack....CALL 911!! Come off it. Honestly, how many younge women suffered heart attacks in Newfoundland last year? Do you keep statistics? This kind of fear mongering might be good for the health INDUSTRY but is it healthy to scare people needlessly? We should all live more healthy lives. That means less needless fear.

  • Jenelle
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Having the opportunity of growing up with the Lidster family, I feel every word that was said in this article, the entire family has to be the most generous that you could ever meet and never forget.
    So glad that Juanita is home with her beautiful family and to see that they are happy, the road to recovery is a long one but the family support is even longer.
    Cheers to the Lidster family and Juanita and her extended family & friends.

  • Randall
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    This lady is very lucky, she got out of Carbonear hospital in the nick of time and got to St. John's.