Friday, February 6, 2009

Hearts Under Scrutiny

One of the annoying by-products of the whole, "You have cancer/ you don't have cancer," nightmare I went through, was the battery of tests that weren't really related to the issue, but part of the medical fishing expedition.

At the time, they added to my frustration, plucked my nerves, and expanded the general state of hysteria. But, in the calm of the afterward, I'm glad I have the results. I now have a baseline of bodily performance in areas that were declared, issue-free.

One of those was the cardiac stress test. Not the most pleasant thing, especially when the 'stress' is induced chemically. You're very certain that you're being squeezed to death in 30 seconds by some unseen demon. However, the crew is there to root you on and it doesn't last very long. Compared to other things they did to me through that whole episode, this test ranks as one of my more favorite experiences.

This is our weekend ladies. If you're quick about it and throw something red on, you can get an additional 20% off any purchase at Macy's. We're becoming a nation of advocates of helping women pay attention to their hearts. If 20% at Macy's doesn't do it, I'm not sure what will! Even Coke is getting in the act with their red dress campaign.

I don't come close to the same power as Macy's and Coke, but I'm certain I can add to the campaign efforts. Today's entry is all about you and the need to place your heart under scrutiny. Please, learn how it works. Learn how your heart responds because you are a female. And, PLEASE, become aware that most health care folk are just beginning to ask the right questions of women in order to correctly diagnosis when you might be having a cardiac issue. We're different. Our physiological response is also very different from what was taught. Conventional medical wisdom and knowledge is predicated upon male anatomy. Nothing wrong with that, but not as inclusive as it needs to be in order for a female to survive.

So, this morning, I'm turning you over to a more knowledgeable individual. Her name is Bonnie Weiner, MD. On the Seconds-Count Physicians' Blog she lists the signs and symptoms you, as a woman, should know:

Chest pain or discomfort;
Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back;
Feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint;
Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder;
Shortness of breath.
Additional Signs, Particularly Common Among Women:
Shoulder or neck pain,
Stomach upset,
Unusual tiredness.

We further complicate things because we are prone to thyroid problems which, if not treated, can pretend to be heart issues; menopause and its array of symptoms; along with acid reflux disease. A few months back, I was in the ER at Latrobe Hospital because I experiencing what I hoped was my usual acid problems, but seemed to last way too long. I knew it couldn't be my thyroid because that's being managed.

Michael rightfully said, "Okay, that's it, we're headed to the E.R.!" The staff was great; they asked all the right questions, reacted very quickly. When it turned out to be nothing life-threatening, yes, I was a tad embarrassed, but the physician's assistant said, "Don't be. We'd rather say, 'nope nothing serious,' than wonder where we should send our condolences. That's why we're here, and why you should have been here, too."

It was my stomach; just another developing issue of GERD. If you don't know what that is, look it up. Lots of us have it, especially as we get older. The feelings it can give often mask cardiac issues. And, it's difficult to tell the difference without tests. So, don't try to self diagnosis!

I'm asking you, regardless of your age, to learn your body as you change through life. Learn and relearn it. Know what's usual for you. Pay attention when you're feeling 'odd.' Always trust your gut! Your instincts will keep you alive, but you have to listen. Oh, and stop trying to run the world! If you aren't feeling yourself, and can't determine why....let the experts work with you. Get help, don't be stubborn. Guys, the stubborn part certainly pertains to you, as well! Don't waste time, just get help.

I want you around to read my cyber doodles for a long time. Your relationship with me is part of the clock works that keep my heart happy. So, know yourself. Know your heart. And be here to share it with me for as long as possible.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Holly, it's actually nice to have the reminder. I too have GERD and with my last test this past January (I go for tests every six months, how lucky am I?), they discovered an esophageal ulcer. Last year, it was Barrett’s esophagus. Heck, I have a whole photo album of my pictures from my endoscopies and colonoscopies. The symptoms are so common that it's scary. It's nice to know someone cares.

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