MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - After four years center stage, Daina DePrez wasn't going to let anything make her miss those final days playing the piano at Nye's Polonaise, a bar which closed earlier this year in Minneapolis.
“When you are playing you don't feel anything, but the moment,” said DePrez.
What no one knew, including DePrez or her doctors, was she was playing through the pain of multiple mini heart attacks for months.
“When you are doing your thing you don't feel anything. When you get done then it all comes back,” said DePrez. “Sometimes I'd be on break and I'd go like this and they'd go what? I'd say just give me a minute it will go away.”
She first felt symptoms back in January, but a stress test told doctors her heart was just fine. DePrez learned to live with weekly repeated episodes of upper body pain after countless visits to her doctor directed focus toward a bulging disc in her back.
“It would radiate down my arms, inside my arms, I'd sweat come around the front, feel like elephant on the chest,” said DePrez. “And they are saying it's because of all these nerve endings in your spine there. I'm not a doctor, I'm a musician!”
It wasn't until pain became unbearable on June 21 she went to Methodist Hospital.
“When they said you are having a heart attack I accused them of lying,” she said.
Turns out DePrez had 100 percent blockage in multiple veins. She went through emergency five-way bypass surgery. Dr. Pawan Hari at the Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center at Methodist didn't treat DePrez, but says heart attack symptoms in women are often missed.
Signs can include some, one or all of what DePrez suffered through: pains in the neck, jaw, shoulders or back, nausea or vomiting, sudden sweats, shortness of breath, dizziness or milder chest pain.
“I feel like over the past several years, we've done a great job with men, but we need to do a better job diagnosing women with heart attacks as well,” said cardiologist Dr. Hari. “We all know that men are from Mars women are from Venus, so how do you expect women to have the same symptoms as men?”
After two full weeks in the hospital, DePrez has a new outlook on life. She wants to use this opportunity to encourage other women to be strong advocates for their own health care and truly listen to your body when something isn't right.
“If happened to me, it's got to happen to someone else,” said DePrez. “If I hadn't went in, I think I would have been dead.”
DePrez is self-employed and won’t be able to complete the piano gigs she’s already scheduled to play at. Her daughter set up a GoFundMe page for anyone who would like to help.