Women with Heart: Shannon Wilks

Heart Health

JACKSONVILLE (KYTX) - In honor of Heart Month this February, we've been introducing you to the 2014 "Women with Heart." These special ladies are selected by the Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital of Trinity Mother Frances every year.  The goal is to raise awareness about heart disease.

One of the honorees is Shannon Wilks. She spends her weekdays working at the Trinity Mother Frances Health and Fitness Center in Jacksonville.

"You'll remain a member through the end of March because it is a 30 day cancellation."

She says health and fitness have always been priorities in her life, which is why she says she never imagined she'd have her first heart attacks at 39 years old. That was six years ago in South Texas.

"Now, mind you, I have a medical background- was a medic for many years. And, I'm laying there and I hear, 'the enzymes came back positive. We need to call the cardiac surgeon.' - 'Is that for me?' and, I did. I'm laying there and I said, 'is that for me?' And, he says, 'Yes ma'am.' You're having a heart attack right now.'"

She says doctors diagnosed it as a stress-related heart attack with hypertension.

"Up until that time, I had always been 120 over 70, 125 over 70. People were jealous of my blood pressure. So, instantaneously this had come on."
Fast-forward to September 2010. Wilks moved to the East Texas and had her second heart attack. That's when she met her cardiologist at Mother Frances, Dr. Oscar Paniagua. She says he discovered she was allergic to the iodine in the medication she'd been taking.

"But, what he was more concerned about was that I had had another heart attack. I eat healthy. I'm in fairly good shape. No cardiac disease in my family background."

She says Dr. Paniagua referred her to an endocrinologist who told her she has a tumor somewhere within her adrenal gland system that causes her blood pressure to skyrocket.

"Normally, they find it after you've already passed. And so, he said I was very fortunate. But, it was Dr. Paniagua who listened to me."

"Well, I think she's very thankful that someone was there when she needed help. And, I was pretty pleased to be able to help her in a critical situation in her life."
Wilks was thankful he was by her side for her third heart attack in 2011.

"It was the worst pain you can ever imagine. I've been hit by an 18-wheeler in a car accident. It was worse."

She says Dr. Paniagua told her she really should have been gone at that point.

"I woke up in recovery. And, there he was sitting. And, I said, you know what, 'God sent my angel. He's you.' And, ever since then, I've been fine."
She says those three heart attacks and major car accident have taught her to live a more driven, purposeful life.

"You don't live your life like, 'ok I could have a heart attack tomorrow' because I know I could. I live it like, take care of it so you don't."   



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