Patty Peterson released her fourth solo recording in October. However, it holds special meaning for her because she’s in an entirely different place in her life than when she began the CD in 2006.
A year into the project, the Edina resident felt an extreme burst of pain in her chest while driving. She pulled over and dialed 911. When she arrived at the emergency room, she didn’t know if she would live through the surgery that followed to repair the aortic dissection that had occurred.
Everything went on hold and the album, “The Very Thought of You,” was put on the back burner while she recovered.
“I never knew if I would sing again,” she said.
Today, she feels like a stronger singer than she’s ever been and she feels grateful to be able to continue to share her gift of singing.
“There’s greater wisdom in my singing because I’m singing from a place that has really met death at its door,” she said.
She’ll be joining the three generations of her family as they perform on Saturday, Dec. 29, at the Hopkins Arts Center.
She credits the doctor who recognized it was aortic dissection instead of a heart attack with saving her life.
Aortic dissection occurs when a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta and blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers to dissect, according to the Mayo Clinic. It then ruptures the outside aortic wall. It’s often fatal. Actor John Ritter died of the same condition and Peterson has become friends with his widow Amy Yasbeck through her American Heart Association volunteer work.
She had known she had to have her aortic valve replaced, but she thought that if she took care of herself, she could avoid open-heart surgery.
“Our bodies just have their own timeframe,” she said.
As she recovered, it would take three breaths to complete one sentence. But she kept her positive attitude and began to become stronger with cardiac rehab. She sang three months later with the cabaret group The Girls for an AIDS walk.
Her sister decided Peterson needed comeback concert, which gave her something to work toward. She also began to sing with The Girls again.
“After a year, I really felt like I was back, mind, body and soul,” she said.
In the meantime, her family came to the rescue on her CD.
Her brother and nephew worked on layering the tracks and producer Tony Axtell finished the tracks.
The CD is available at cdbaby.com, iTunes and Amazon,
In her personal life, she’s also been able to see weddings and her new grandchildren, and care for her mother Jeanne.
“Life has been very rewarding,” she said.
Meeting Yasbeck has also propelled her on a completely different path in life. She’s become an ambassador for the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women campaign. She’s traveled in the Midwest, and to Texas and Chicago to speak about going on in life.
For her volunteer work, the American Heart Association awarded her the Hero Award in the survivor category.
Her advice is to “take yourself seriously.” If there’s a problem, people should see their doctors – especially women. She adds that women will chalk up medical problems to stress or ignore the symptoms altogether. She points out that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women.
She feels lucky to be a survivor and the sound of her St. Jude Medical valve pumping reminds her that.
“It reminds me that I’ve come through a lot and I’m alive,” she said.