February is heart month, so I am going to share a story with you.
Last week I woke up in a lot of discomfort. I tried to work through it but ultimately decided to go to the doctor’s office to check things out. The doctor immediately sent me to the hospital’s emergency department with a letter to fast track me through triage based on my symptoms. She thought something was wrong with my heart. I was showing some of the signs that women have when they have a heart attack.
I felt bad having to go to the hospital for two main reasons.
1) I was going to miss dinner and bedtime with my kids – and I had missed it a few nights earlier.
2) I felt silly… I thought I was okay and I felt bad going to emerg… All the time I hear people complaining about how there are so many people in the emergency room who don’t need to be there….
…but the symptoms were still there and I couldn’t ignore them and I reminded myself that it is better to check and be okay then not to check.
The staff at the hospital were incredible. I apologized to every single one of them for being there and taking up their time. Every single one of them told me that my symptoms could not and should not be ignored. After thorough testing and retesting, I was told that my heart is healthy and that they were happy I had it checked out. At the end of it all (once we knew I was okay), one of them told me that her grandmother had the same symptoms and in fact she had a heart attack. I will be monitored by my family doctor, but the good news is that it was nothing serious.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because I don’t think that I am the only person who second guesses if I should do something for myself. If it was my husband or my mom or my best friend, I would tell them to go and get checked out and say “don’t you dare apologize for being there!” (Exactly what my husband said to me when I called to say “sorry, I will be a few more hours”). I think understanding why some of us do this, could be a whole other blog post – so stay tuned. I do want to share the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so you have them.
This visual list of symptoms has been taken from the Marshfield Clinic’s website:
The Heart and Stroke Foundation writes:
“The most common heart attack sign is chest pain or discomfort; however, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure. They may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.” They go on to say that if you experience any of these signs to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.
Take care of yourself! When in doubt, get checked out – it could save your life.