My Mom and Her Beautiful Heart
One month after the greatest day of my life, I received one of the worst calls of my life from my dad. My gorgeous and vivacious mother had just had a heart attack.
For those of you who know my mom, she is healthy, active, eats a Mediterranean diet, and does not drink or smoke. In fact, she is in love with organic foods, enjoys finding new ways to eat healthy, follows YouTube channels about wellness, and is always sharing new tips and tricks with us as her kids. How could my mom be in this situation and why did this happen to her?
Mom woke up one Saturday morning and recognized a tremendous pain in her jaw and an extreme tightness in her chest. Her years as a Family Nurse Practitioner helped her realize that she was having a heart attack; she knew the warning signs and called 911 immediately. Mom was rushed to the hospital where doctors were waiting for her. Luckily the stent placement worked and our beautiful mother was going to be on the path to recovery.
A few weeks following mom's heart attack, she followed up with her cardiologist for a stress test to see how she was progressing and it was there that they realized that she needed to go back into the hospital - something didn't seem right.
After another angiogram, this time we learned that mom's right coronary artery was extremely narrow and blood was not passing through it at the rates that it should. Mom had recently learned about a congenital heart condition she was born with and this seemed to be the cause of the arterial issue. She was in extreme risk and this time needed bypass surgery.
Mom is now eight months passed her bypass surgery (woohoo!!!), is participating in cardiac rehabilitation, and is even back to work and traveling to visit her extended family and children across the U.S. She looks healthier than ever (eventhough she was gorgeous to begin with!) and we are so proud of her strength and her confidence in weathering this storm. She has always been our little energizer bunny, but now that she has a healthier heart, she is even more energetic than ever!
Through all of this, we have never heard her complain, even though I know it was scary for her and for those of us who love her. We are so thankful to have mom healthy and back at her usual routine, but know not every story has a positive outcome like ours did.
I share my mother's story (with her permission) so that everyone is aware, especially women, of the importance of recognizing the warning signs. Because she recognized the signs, especially how they manifest in women, she was able to act quickly and get the treatment she needed.
What does this mean? Being thin, eating healthy and not drinking or smoking is not a guarantee that heart disease won't pop up in your life. It can happen to anyone, and in certain communities of color, the risk increases exponentially. Educate yourself and make your own health and that of your family a priority. Understand your family history with regards to heart health and understand what your own risk factors are.
The American Heart Association's work funds critical research that helps millions of people worldwide get the treatment they need to survive. Treatment and research that saves lives. If you were at all touched by my mother's story, please consider making a donation, no matter how small, to my team fundraiser - even a $5 dollar donation will make a difference and help raise more awareness. Thank you all in advance for your support of the AHA!