Sunday, December 14, 2008

In the Heart of the Season

For reasons not clearly understood by yours truly, some morbidly obese gentleman clad in what appears to be a bathmat seems to get a good majority of the lip service during the holiday season.

But you and I know who the real mastermind is behind all this hoopla. Don't we?

The one who does the near-impossible scheduling, who mediates during labour disagreements, who keeps the gingerbread and hot cocoa flowing fast and furious?

The one who makes sure "the" suit (aforementioned bathmat) is laundered, pressed, hung up and ready to go?

The one who has ensured the rig has had its 10,000 mile oil change, brake alignment, and that the livestock are re-shod, groomed, ethically treated& pumped full of organically-grown nutrition? Who shovels off the path and the runway, and sweeps to make sure the ground is clear and safe for all who walk it?

The one who ensures that all involved, from the best of friends to the most minor of acquaintances, have an appropriate and thoughtful and tastefully wrapped gift?

The one who busts her nut to make sure that the post-gift-giving-extravaganza feast has all of the necessary foodstuffs, and who has toiled all day to lay out a traditional spread?

It's the woman.

I hate to assume (because u and me know what happens), but by and large, it's the females out there who run this show called "The Holidays". I acknowledge that males are involved, and these days more than ever, but still...


And it is for these beautiful angels who make it all proceed with the grace of a gazelle and the precision of a Swiss watchmaker that this post is for.

Normally, I cringe when I see a forwarded e-mail in my inbox.

This - usually - can only end badly, with me either breaking some sacred, around-the-world-20-times chain, or by disappointing the Dalai Lama by not forwarding it to 10 of my friends.


When I took the time to read this one, it just seemed to resonate with me.

Firstly, because rumour has it that I am of the female persuasion.

Secondly, because I believe that - regardless of the lovefest - the month of December is one of the most stress-filled, distressing months in the calendar year for wives, mothers, caregivers.

And lastly, because I have such an amazing treasure trove of lovely, vital women that I want to cling to for all eternity. Maybe you do, too.

Whether you're one of the handful of truly fabulous male readers I've had the good fortune to get to know, or one of the women who make me laugh and think and consider - this is a lesson to share with everyone you know. Right now.

Especially right now.

I usually try to be polite - but this time I'm going to get bossy.

This is important and worthy, and if it could potentially save a life, it was worth you doing. I wish I'd know about this 6 years ago - my mom might have recognized the signs earlier...

Read this. Learn. Share.

"I was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the best description I've ever read [regarding women and heart attacks]. Did you know women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that men have when experiencing heart attack. You know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest and dropping to the floor that we all see in movies. Here is the story of one woman's experience with a heart attack.

I had a heart attack at about 10:30 pm with NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might've brought it on. I was sitting all snugly and warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, 'A-a-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up.

A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, [like] when you've been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation - the only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bit of anything since about 5:00 pm.

After it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my spine (hindsight, it was probably my aorta spasming), gaining speed as they continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR).

This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws. 'AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening - we all have read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of a MI [myocardial infarction] happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!

I lowered the footrest dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, if this is a heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else...but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up.

I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room and dialed the Paramedics...I told her I thought I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to unbolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in.

I unlocked the door and then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness, as I don't remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the call they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but I did briefly awaken when we arrived and saw the cardiologist was already there in his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably something like 'Have you taken any medications?') but I couldn't make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and nodded off again, not waking up until the cardiologist and partner had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stents to hold open my right coronary artery.

I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the Paramedics, but actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and St. Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stents.

Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned first hand."

1. Be aware that something very different is happening in your body not the usual men's symptoms, but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn't know they were having one and commonly mistake it as indigestion, take some Maalox or other heartburn preparation and go to bed, hoping they'll feel better in the morning when they wake up...which doesn't happen. My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before. It is better to have a 'false alarm' visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might be.

Note that I said "Call the Paramedics". And if you can, take an aspiring. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

3. Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER - you are a hazard to others on the road. Do NOT have your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead of the road.

Do NOT call your doctor - he doesn't know where you live and if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved! The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your doctor will be notified later.

3. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it's unbelievably high and/or accompanied by high blood pressure). MIs are usually caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the body, which dumps all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge things up in there. "


Mental P Mama said...

Very important information, indeed. Thank you for the lesson.

Bubs said...

Yow. Thank you for this, I'll pass this on to all the important women in my life. Thanks

Baroness von B said...

Countess MPM: As always, dear woman, my pleasure.

Count of Tiki: And thank YOU, dear sir, for continiung to pass it on.

The Dalai Lama is watching...

Anonymous said...

Oh wow.
Thanks for the info auntie.
I will tell mom, even though I don't thinks she will listen.

AND, sadly, I know dad does just as much as mom for the holidays.
It's hell for them both.
And hell for me because I have to hear them bitch.

RiverPoet said...

What a great "forward"! (And thanks for being such a good friend when I forwarded you that sweet message about the sick old lady).

My best friend will be 52 in February, and she's had 2 heart attacks already and has multiple stents. I, on the other hand, have had 2 cardiac caths, neither of which have shown any blockages. My pain is similar to what is described here, but they haven't found a cause. Thank God it's only happened a couple of times.

And YES, it's better to go and have it be a false alarm than to die in your bed without a chance of treatment.

Peace - D

thetravelingb aka The Countess of YY said...

thank you for the info. As I have a family history I don't think I knew the signs to this extent. As some who believe in better living through chemistry I would have been one of those women who would have hit the rolaids bottle. Lets hope this will never happen and if it does I will remember this wise bit of info. Maybe I should take to carrying an asprin in my pocket or better yet in vial around my neck. I wonder how I would explain that to airport security.

Cormac Brown said...

Thank you very much Baroness, I'm going to email this to The Missus.

Asthmagirl said...

Thanks Baroness, for taking the time to share this message. It's much appreciated as always.

Sorry to hear about your weather. I had hoped the drivers in Canada to be a bit more savvy about the conditions...

Hugs to you, my dear!

Baroness von B said...

Countess Schmee: Even if you think your mom's not listening, she probably is. Plus, you've got about a zillion friends you can send this to, right? They all have moms and grammas and aunties as well...

Countess of YY: Who would ever have thought that I would be forwarding an e-mail? As for the carrying an aspirin around with you, I'm sure you've had some experience in that department... ;)

Count Cormac: Excellent! Spread the word. This is a good gift, I think.

Countess AG: Savvy winter Canadians apparently do exist - but just not here. Sigh.

Baroness von B said...

Countess D: Thanks for illustrating that heart issues are not just the scourge of the elderly - young, vital women can be just as vulnerable.

As for being overly cautious? I would rather die of embarrassment that just die.

Grace said...

Thank you Baroness for this post. I had a MI in August and I can tell you that it is NO FUN. Since then my life has been an endless run of doctor / specialist appointments. It might be helpful to know that denial is also a classic symptom of heart attacks. I "knew" that I was having a heart attack at least 2 or 3 times in the days before I finally allowed someone to call 911. And yes, I was advised to ALWAYS call 911 in any suspected heart symptoms. The reason is that you will get necessary treatment much quicker if you call an ambulance.

{i}Post said...

Great post! Thanks for caring about us enough to post it!

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