I was now 42 and a STEMI survivor. I really didn't know what that meant at first as I didn't realize the seriousness of what had happened. I turned out not to need the anesthesiologist because they chose to place multiple stents in my LAD rather than bypass it. He hung out and we talked some and he talked me through what I could see on the monitors. I realize now he was hanging out to make sure they didn't decide to bypass. Because I didn't have any major surgery I was under the false impression that it must not have been as bad as they thought. It indeed was as bad as I first read on the doctor's faces. In the days and weeks that followed, my whole frame of reference for normal started to shift. I now was considered chronically ill, never to actually be "better". I can't tell you what a bitter pill that was to swallow.
I started to work my way back to my new health and as I did I had a couple important revelations. First, I realized I was not the only 42 year old woman to ever have a massive heart attack. Second, I realized that my attitude was going to drastically affect my outcome. As I realized these things, my purpose started to become very clear. If I was going to survive this and I was going to now posses all this new information, I better get out and share it.
I knew about Go Red For Women prior to my heart attack and I knew it was about heart disease. What I also so smugly knew was that it didn't apply to me because nothing like that would ever happen to me. Of course heart disease and stroke kills 1 in 3 women every year--that is about one woman every minute. Yes, you read that right, one woman every minute. How arrogant was I to think that it would not be me? As I now go out and share my story, I can see the same thing in other women. I can see them thinking, "Wow, what a scary story. Good thing that will never happen to me." I am telling you ladies that think this that 1 in 3 die, how do you know it won't be you? This year, this is the main reason I go red. I face the new challenge to tell my story in such a way that women don't just think it is a shocking story, but to learn to tell it in a way that makes an impact beyond shock--to make an impact of understanding that just as easily, it could be them. It is a tall order but I never shy from a challenge.
There are many other reasons that I am going red. I am going red for my heart sisters at the American Heart Association Kansas City:
I go red for others too. I go red for my high school friend Michelle because her daughter was born with a heart defect. I go red for my high school friend Jamie and his wife who suffered an unimaginable loss from heart disease. When you start to share your story, people share back and you realize how many people heart disease and stroke have truly touched. I go red for all of the friends I have from my elementary through high school days. Each and everyone of them special to me.
I go red for my co workers. My company has supported me 100% and are going red for the third year in a row this Friday. They have hopped on board and we have a company heart walk team every spring. They support my efforts with the American Heart Association and I am so thankful for that!
This is not just for ladies because the effect of heart disease on women affects the men that love them:
As we celebrate American Heart Month, please remember that 80% of cardiac events and strokes are preventable--take care of your hearts!