Friday, February 3, 2012
Have you ever wondered what your purpose is in life? What God has planned for you? I know, without a doubt, that God has plans for me in this life. I have survived not one, but two major medical scares in my adulthood. I survived so I could use my experience to educate others about heart disease in women.
Thirteen years ago, after twenty plus weeks of bed rest, my youngest daughter, Adyson, was born almost eight weeks premature. Following this long period of bed rest, I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) when Adyson was three days old. Only fifteen percent of those that have a pulmonary embolism survive. Fifteen percent! Through a lot of prayer and healing, I survived a pulmonary embolism. Survivor – YES!
Many changes have occurred in my life over the last five years. I married my husband and went from a mother of two to a mother of four. My life became even busier than it had previously been. More things to care for and less time to do the “caring.” How many Moms can relate to that? I think we all can!
In December of 2010 my step-daughter, Lizzie, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Everything in our household changed. I began to cook differently for Lizzie’s needs. Her diet was based on a 50 to 60 gram carbohydrate diet per meal. My husband and I learned how to calculate carbs for everything Lizzie ingested. We learned how to calculate how much insulin she needed for each time she ate or drank anything with carbohydrates.
In May of 2011, Matt and I decided we wanted to become even healthier. A five-month change in our diet helped us, but we wanted to make even more changes. We hired a personal trainer at a local gym to teach us how to take care of our bodies and lift weights properly. The combination of changes in food and exercising regularly not only helped our health, but helped our stress level, as well.
I tell you all of this for one reason. I had hurting between my shoulders. It didn’t concern me because of all the things I was doing – taking care of my family, exercising, working, staying up later than usual because it was summer. I went to see my regular doctor and told him about the hurting between my shoulders and that I had a few episodes of accelerated heart rate. He put me on a heart monitor for four weeks. He thought the hurting was from muscle fatigue from working out at the gym – something that was fairly new to me. During the four week period I never had another episode of accelerated heart rate. The hurting between my shoulders was still there, but not constant. He released me to continue working out.
On July 4, 2011, I had gone to the gym to work out. It was approximately 11:45am. I was on the treadmill. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano. It was almost 72 hours later. YES, I said 72 hours later. I had a massive heart attack on the treadmill - a “widow-maker” heart attack to be exact. Only three percent survive a “widow-maker” heart attack. THREE PERCENT! Again, with much prayer, healing and education of wonderful doctors, I survived a massive heart attack.
Is there something I could have done to change the fact that I suffered a “widow-maker” heart attack? I had done everything right. I knew my family history; heart disease runs on my father’s side of the family. I had changed the way I ate, changed the way I exercised, lessened my stress, and gone to the doctor and discussed things that had concerned me. I had made many positive changes in my lifestyle, but I was still susceptible to heart disease, even with all the changes I had made.
Do you know common signs of heart problems in women? They aren’t always the same as heart attack symptoms in men. Women often experience shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, lower chest discomfort, upper abdominal pressure or discomfort that often feels like indigestion, and back pain. Not necessarily all of these symptoms are experienced at the same time. Do you as a Mother have any of those symptoms on a regular basis? MOST women experience one or two of those symptoms on a regular basis from taking care of their family.
In retrospect the only sign of concern for me was the hurting between my shoulders. A hurting that both the doctor and I thought was from exercise strain. Please listen to your body and have ANYTHING unusual checked by your doctor. Am I a SURVIVOR? ABSOLUTELY!!!!
Rechele Bonner is Mother to four and a proud advocate for raising awareness about women and their risk for heart disease.