Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Don't Forget To Look After You!!

The Heart and Stroke Foundation tells us that the following are all warning signs of a heart attack:
• Chest discomfort (uncomfortable chest pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness)
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (neck, jaw, shoulder, arms, back)
• Shortness of breath
• Sweating
• Nausea
• Light-headedness"
Do you want to guess how many of these I experienced at work yesterday afternoon? Every. Single. One. Seriously. I was terrified.

And at the same time, part of my head was telling me, "Don't be so silly! You are in an extremely low risk category (non-smoking, great cholesterol & blood pressure, no family history). You're too busy to go to the hospital. What a waste of precious time. And who will pick up Little Boo from daycare?" Do any of these excuses sound familiar to you? Mom can't go down. Period.

On the other hand, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has different advice. If you experience these symptoms? Call 9-1-1. Stop what you are doing, take an aspirin if you have the chest pain, and lie down. I was miserable, in pain, numb, short of breath, dizzy, scared.

So what did I eventually do, once the chest pain really kicked in? I walked two blocks to my preferred hospital. (I did at least take my assistant with me in case I collapsed on the sidewalk. I'm not a complete fool.) After a brief 90 minute wait (triage nurse clearly wasn't worried by what she saw), I saw a doctor, had an ECG, and was assured that what I was really experiencing was just the worst anxiety attack I had ever encountered. The doctor took a quick history, including a run-down on the hellish week I've just come through, patted my hand and gave me a script for something to take when necessary. He also told me to go home and rest, take a couple of days off work. I am following those orders.
And I still made it to daycare in time to get Little Boo.

The bottom line, I decided to go with better safe than sorry. I have experienced panic attacks before, but this was unlike any other. What if I were wrong and this were a heart attack? Who would look after my family if something happened to me? So I called on my dear friends to arrange help with Little Boo. I called on my assistant (and friend) to help me to the hospital. And I called on the medical professionals to check me out and fix me if need be. I realised while in the Emergency waiting room, if any of my friends, family, or staff had reported these symptoms to me, I would have been the first to haul their butt in to a doctor.

The doctor I saw was wonderful. And he was very clear with me - I did the right thing by coming in. I want to share this story with you, my readers, to encourage you to listen to your bodies. If something doesn't seem right, if something is scaring you, it is worth getting checked out. See your family doctor, or a walk-in, or go to emerg if necessary. Keep yourself well! Your friends and family are counting on it.

Please note: this post is in no way sponsored by or authorised by the Heart & Stroke Foundation. The opinions here are my own. The symptoms and actions listed above are from the Heart & Stroke website, as noted.

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