Patients should consider seeking a second opinion if they want clarification on a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment options. Jane Seaman experienced this firsthand. After years of no improvement, Seaman went looking for better options. It took several visits to doctors and a few opinions before she finally found the right diagnosis and solution.
“I couldn’t walk more than five minutes without terrible pain in my legs. I was losing hope, but I kept researching,” Seaman said.
More than a decade ago, Seaman suffered a heart attack. At that time, the general public was only beginning to understand that men and women experience different symptoms when it comes to cardiac events. For men, the symptoms are more dramatic and harder to ignore — nausea; shortness of breath; tightness in the jaw, neck and back; and sudden, extreme pain in the chest. For women, the symptoms can be much subtler.
Seaman first experienced heartburn. Within a week, she had mild throbbing in her arm, followed by a feeling of weight on her chest that made breathing difficult. Physicians at a local Ormond Beach hospital concluded there was nothing to be concerned about and sent Seaman home. When symptoms reappeared, findings showed a blockage due to plaque buildup in her arteries and Seaman received a stent to improve blood flow. Subsequent monitoring by cardiologists led to a second stent, but Seaman’s instincts told her she needed additional care. She was later diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, or PAD. PAD is a condition that affects blood circulation in places outside of the heart, such as in the arms, legs or kidneys.
By 2017, Seaman’s condition was still deteriorating. She saw a vascular surgeon, and ultrasounds revealed blockages in her legs. She was told she needed bypass surgery and may need dialysis because the blockages were affecting her kidneys.
“I felt defeated,” Seaman said. “When I got home, I started to research options out of my local area.”