Saturday, January 27, 2007

From her heart

One of my Gather friends, the poet Barbary Chaapel, wrote an article recently about having a heart attack. As the symptoms of male and female heart attacks can be markedly different, she would like to share her experience so that women can be more aware of the condition.

Here is her article in full:


Somewhere in this hospital, someone is baking

A blueberry muffin for my breakfast.

I'm allowed out of bed today

To sit in my corner window, wish

Upon the white-stars-falling-snow-storm,

Breath in the scent of potted white hyacinth

Wrapped in purple paper on the cold window sill.

We’ve been told there are differences in men’s heart attacks and women’s heart attacks. Now I know first hand. Here are some of the things I observed or learned from my heart attack:

* An elephant did not sit on my chest.

* The EKG at the ER did not show my heart attack.

* My mysterious, lower leg pain that had made me cry in the night never
returned once the stent was in place.

* My fatigue for the past year had a reason.

* Those previous pains that I had last May and October, lasting half hour, Was Not a
panic attack!

* Chronic stress will eventually try to kill you.

* The medical staff at the ER really does move as fast as they do in TV
dramas. Thank heavens!

ATTACK OF THE HEART: From A Feminine Viewpoint

On January 17th, 2007 I was standing at my kitchen sink, doing dishes and looking out the window at a green cardinal in the butterfly bush, puffed up from the cold. Bill was cleaning Tom’s kitty litter. Ordinary day. I began to have piercing pain in the middle of my chest, radiating through to my upper back. My shoulders and upper arms felt dead with pain in my elbows. The pain immediately spread to my neck and jaw. My upper teeth ached like a severe toothache. I had a drenching cold sweat. I became nauseous.

Bill asked 911 or drive? I said drive. Our hospital is thirty miles away and takes one hour driving time because of our road terrain. We live on a one lane dirt road in mountain-curving country.

We decided long ago if possible in an emergency one of us would drive the other to the ER. An ambulance would first have to find our unnamed road, then their policy would be to drive us to our nearest, tiny hospital, which would not have a cardiac doctor on staff.

Luckily, the roads were bare of ice or snow. Bill put on the Jeep’s emergency
blinkers and prayed coal trucks, timber trucks, other drivers would pull off the road and let him pass them. For the most part, they did so. It took us 45 minutes to reach the ER.

Once in the ER a flurry of activity began for me. The EKG did not show a heart attack, but the lab tests and my own demeanor showed the attack was still in progress. The heart catherization and stent emplacement in the 100% blocked artery gave me immediate relief!

Five days later I am home. I will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year on a
different level, sending love and profound thanks to those who saved me, to family and friends.

And love to my own heart.

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