Word of the Day: Red

open hands

Beginning when I was 39 years old and had a 4 year old, 9 year old and 13 year old, I had two back-to-back heart attacks even though I was perfectly healthy. When this occurred in 1999, WebMD didn’t even list my heart condition as a possibility for such human beings. Fortunately, that has changed.

But, there is still much to be done for Prinzmetal Angina, which affects 139,000 Americans. Prinzmetal (named after the researcher who discovered the phenomenon) has a 50% death rate and when diagnosed (only by the divine intervention of God), I was told I could have a heart attack every 10 to 15 years from that point forward. We still don’t know much about why my coronary arteries like to spasm out of the blue and cause blood clots and their resulting heart attacks.

I seem to like to have my heart attacks in pairs and I hate being late, so a little over 14 years later, I had heart attacks # 3 and # 4. Since my heart attacks cannot be prevented by exercising and dieting my way out of them, I have resigned myself to exercising 100 minutes per day (Yes, 100 minutes per day–I’m not joking.) and controlling my portion size when eating. I get my regular check-ups and take my pills 3 times a day like a good girl. I’ll explain why a little later on.

I’m also supposed to avoid stress. That I don’t do so well. How do you control bad stress when your hubby travels for a living and you have 3 spunky, smart, and crazy (in their own ways) offspring to raise? How do you do that while working to pay for their college educations and my sizable health care bills? And I have tended to take on projects that induce stress, too: walking “the 3-day” for my bestest buddy who passed away from breast cancer, getting my master’s degree in my early 50s in counseling psychology, and starting a nonprofit counseling center. I also endured the deaths of 3 immediate family members. And one of those spunky children got married.

Not exactly a walk in the park. So, why did I subject myself to that?

Because my next breath could literally be my last.

And if I’m going to die in the next breath, I want to do as much good for my little end of the world as humanly possible. That is what makes me happy and allows me to live with this virtual death sentence over my head. And yes, I allow myself a little chocolate and wine and have a few daredevil tendencies.

But, knowing that this could be my last moment on Earth, I also work on keeping my heart as healthy as humanly possible so that it can hopefully withstand heart attacks # 6 and # 7 which will probably hit somewhere between 2023 and 2028. I have one thing left on my bucket list that prompts such due diligence: holding a grandchild in my arms. And since that’s not something I can exactly schedule, it’s my job to take care of me.

Heart attacks kill women more than anything else. My experiences tell me that women have an especially difficult time in the ICU when a heart attack strikes because our symptoms are seldom like men’s symptoms and most med schools train their doctors to look for male symptoms. Why?

When you do medical research, it’s easier to do it on men because you don’t have those monthly cycles and hormone fluctuations to get in the way and muddy up the research results. But, unfortunately, this usually winds up hurting women when it comes to heart attacks because our symptoms are very different from men’s.

Thus, I’m here to tell you that you want a close family member or friend to intervene with the medical staff if a heart attack hits a woman you love. I’m blessed to have the hubby–who can turn into a pit bull with doctors faster than you can swing a baseball bat. And I’m blessed to have a God who seems to think I’m worth leaving on the planet for a while longer. And I’m lucky to have friends and family who are the biggest prayer warriors on the planet.

It’s pretty hard to take care of others from a hospital bed. And the price is staggeringly high, even with insurance. We spent 6 figures twice for 4 heart attack hospital stays.

Today is Go Red for Women Day–to increase awareness about this. Think it can’t happen to you? Yeah. Me, too.

I’ll be wearing red. Will you? If so, post your pic on the MIP FB page with the hash tag #GoRedTODAY. You just might find your pic on the Today Show web site. 🙂

Monday’s Post: Word of the WEEK

You Might Also Like: Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 and 4; So, Where Are My Posts?; and The New Information about Prinzmetal Angina

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 6th, 2015 at 10:50 am and is filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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