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We all know how demanding the real estate industry can be, regardless of which corner of it you inhabit. If you take it seriously and care about your business, you can easily lose track of your own well-being in the grind. Just ask Chanin Wisler, of First Washington Mortgage. A senior loan officer for nearly two decades, Chanin thrived in this fast-paced industry and claims she never felt she was giving too much of herself — at least not until February of 2021.

Chanin found herself working extra hard that year, understaffed and not able to do much delegating, although it was nothing she hadn’t handled before. However, the previous pandemic year was anything but normal, especially for Chanin. On top of COVID-19 stress, Chanin was helping her mother care for her father, who is currently battling Alzheimer’s. Chanin had also undergone back surgery and was dealing with much more stress than usual as she tried to recover during lockdown restrictions. All of this was secretly taking its toll, as Chanin notes she is usually very active with her husband, Eric, and son, Ryan.

One day in mid-February, she woke up at 6 a.m. with a migraine, took prescription medicine, and went back to sleep. But when she woke up two hours later, she felt a different pain — the “elephant on your chest” feeling she had heard people describe. She remembers waking Eric up and saying, “I need help. Something is wrong.” Her husband went to get her a glass of water, and suddenly she felt like all the blood in her arms “whooshed” out of them and went cold. She started sweating profusely as Eric called 911. The emergency operator told Chanin to chew an aspirin as she waited for the ambulance.

The paramedics entered the family room as Chanin was telling Eric where all the important papers were, just in case the worst happened. She then looked over to her son, Ryan. Trying not to scare him too much, she knew she had to say some sort of meaningful ‘goodbye.’ “It was my worst moment,” Chanin recalls with emotion. “Something I didn’t think I’d have to do for decades. Thinking about that moment makes me cry. I love that wonderful kid so damn much.”

As Chanin was loaded into the ambulance, an EMT told her he thought the episode may have been an allergic reaction to the migraine pill and a “bit of a panic attack.” Alone in the ambulance due to COVID restrictions, Chanin’s chest pain subsided. She was taken to MedStar Montgomery, where the blood test and EKG confirmed she had suffered a heart attack.   Fortunately, the echocardiogram showed there was no damage, and Chanin’s doctor concluded that since her chest pain had quickly gone away, her heart was not deprived of blood for long.

“I was convinced my migraine meds threw my heart into a spasm,” Chanin explained. “Doc agreed and said, ‘Yes, but we also have to make sure there is no blockage.’ I told him, ‘I don’t think I have one… How could I? I’m not that old, I eat a super healthy diet, and I’m moderately active. Wouldn’t I be sicker and have other symptoms?’”  

For all of those reasons, Chanin was against having a procedure done to check for blockages. She did not want to deal with a stent in her heart and thought it was overkill. The doctor reluctantly agreed, and they compromised with other tests instead. Although she felt winded during her nuclear stress test, she blamed it on being “out of shape” from COVID and her back surgery. After much discussion, the doctor finally agreed to let her go home once she promised to return for a CT angiogram.

Grateful to be home, Chanin spent two days returning to her normal routine — working, walking the dog with Eric, etc. As she walked upstairs to go to bed on the second night, however, she felt a shot of pain in her chest again. She was so scared that she couldn’t sleep that night and went straight to the hospital to schedule for the cardiac catheterization the next morning. Chanin knew exactly what the procedure entailed from her days in medical sales, and insisted she stay awake, without any sedatives, so she could watch. “I wanted to see with my own eyes and be in a position to tell the doctor, ‘Just balloons that tear — no stent please,’” she explained.

She, along with the doctors, immediately saw the problem.

“As he was getting the stent ready, I asked the doctor, ‘What percentage blockage would you say that is?’ He said 90 percent. I was in disbelief. How did I do the treadmill without chest pain, how did I come home, work a normal day and walk the dog? A year and a half ago, I was diving with sharks, climbing mountains in Belize, and jumping into waterfalls in secret Mayan caves. Did I do all that with a blockage?” In shock, Chanin was informed that genetics and stress were the culprits. At that moment, she knew she was going to have to make some major life changes.

Fast forward to today, Chanin says she feels good. Her blood pressure is at all-time lows, she is grateful to be alive, to be a mom to her son, a wife to her husband, and wants to play more games, see more shows, visit her dad in hospice at his home, and have fun with her mom and the rest of her family.

And, of course, she wants to do more loans, especially now that she has more staff and support at work.

“This was the warning call of warning calls,” Chanin notes. “I am not invincible; not one of us is. Don’t think healthy eating alone will protect you. Listen to your body and don’t ever be afraid to call 911. But most of all, cherish your life and the people you love every single day.”

To contact Chanin or for information on First Washington Mortgage services, call 301-526-0020 or visit her online at www.chaninwisler.info.