Heart disease is something that has challenged my family, more specifically both my parents. It comes like a thief in the night and can be deadly if the warnings and signs are not handled with urgency but what happens when you don’t know what they are? Read more on my parent’s very different experiences.
Both my mom and my dad were adopted at birth. My dad was adopted through a closed adoption which basically means that the birth parents did not want anyone to find them after the adoption was processed. My mom was adopted with the understanding of who her parents were and my grandparents were always open and honest, with her birth parents willing to meet her when she considered seeking them out. With both of these adoptions come two different circumstances and every in their journeys of heart disease, both are very different.
Family history and genes play somewhat of a role in your body chemistry and susceptibility of getting the same or similar disease or sickness that others who share your blood line have. However, I am fully prepared to argue that even though you are armored with knowledge of those who come before you who have or do suffer from certain diseases, it doesn’t prepare you for when it strikes. It also doesn’t prepare for the treatment plan or the severity.
As many of you know, my dad died from a massive heart attack on February 10, 2015. This was after he had two mild stroke episodes and the doctors in states where he was truck driving, cleared him to continue driving. That even sounded crazy typing it. However, I know how stubborn my dad is and he never stayed in one place too long so I am sure that convinced them to let him continuing truck driving. I remember both times he called me and said that he was having trouble breathing and I would beg him to go get checked out. Then, both strokes came shortly after. Then, the massive heart attack that claimed his life. He was an obese man and he did not take care of himself in the slightest. He had just turn 54 on January 26. This was my first wake-up call with my health.
We all know how my second wake-up call came and that was with my mom this summer in the beginning of June. For months-maybe even a year- prior to her episode that led her to the ER, her legs were numb and she was complaining that her allergies were bothering her. She would often have really dark circles and redness in her eyes. She just always kind of looked run down to me. In April, she started getting short of breathe when she walked and would complain that her heart was racing, still thinking it was an infection. She did go to the Urgent Care in May and he gave her medication for a viral infection he thought she had (keep in mind, he never took her pulse or her blood pressure-this part is important to remember). Then June came and it hit. Admitting herself to the ER, her pulse was 160! Yes, 160!
I was halfway to work when she called me and when I arrived, they had sorted out a temporary plan of action but let me know that her prognosis thus far was not good and she was lucky that she DROVE HERSELF in time. ((insert eye roll-because my mother is stubborn too))After many tests, procedure, pokes and five days in the hospital, she was free to go with six medications and endless follow ups and care plans. For now, they have diagnosed my mom with A-fib and congestive heart failure. It isn’t a death sentence but it could have been if the good Lord hadn’t woken her up to get herself some care.
She is stable and is likely to get a cardio ablation in January but friends, this is why healthcare is important. Neither my mother, nor my father had insurance. Because they had no insurance, they were unable to properly care for the small things that led to the big events in their lives. No, this isn’t some political post, this is a post to convict you to A) take care of yourself and know your body and B) make sure that you are able to somehow get care that doesn’t leave you in debt. I know many do not have this option, which is terrible and breaks my heart, but for those of you who are neglecting based on because you don’t feel like it, this post is for you. If the hospital did not have a grant to afford her because she is a low income, single woman, I’m not sure what her status would be. God is so good to take care of her both physically and financially in this very scary time.
“Chances are, we all know someone affected by heart disease and stroke, because about 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.”-American Heart Association
There are programs and resources available for everyone out there, you just have to set your pride aside and ask for them. Friends, please take care of yourselves and your family. My mom could have been one of the 2,300 in the statistic. Don’t let it happen to you.
Heart Disease Awareness month isn’t until February but I just felt this on my heart to talk about. You will be seeing more posts on my Instagram and Facebook in February but if you have a parent and do not know what their mental health status is, get curious and nosy (that is another post for another day) and if you’re not sure where to start, reach out to me and I am happy to help.