Today is day 6 of my creativity challenge and it’s been a positive experience so far.
This is the first time I have blogged so consistently and so frequently. One surprise is that it’s forced me to narrow down what I write about and be sure my topics all make sense together..or at least that’s the hope!
In Social PT Contender >>>here , I talked about how I usually keep my personal/family life offline & off the blog.
Well, today I’ll go ahead and contradict that a little.
I want to introduce someone who is one of the most important people in my life….my mom!
I want to talk about her specifically because it is American Heart Month and I believe her story is an important one to share.
We have a lot of heart disease on my mom’s side. Both of her parents, her brother, and other extended family died from heart disease.
my mom’s heart health story
One day my mom was having chest pain and it was so bad that she made an appointment with her doctor. He told her she was simply having heart burn…
But the chest pain didn’t go away ( like heart burn would ) , so she went back to her doctor. Again he told her it was just heart burn.
The pain wasn’t going away so she went to see a different doctor.
The day she went to that new hospital changed her life forever.
It started with the catheterization. She agreed to get this procedure done because the new doctor wanted to see more of what was going on in her heart.
[ ANATOMY + PHYSIOLOGY LESSON ] “Cardiac catheterization (cardiac cath or heart cath) is a procedure to examine how well your heart is working. A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to your heart.” – American Heart Association website >>>here.
Next, she was told she would be staying the night in the hospital.
What happened next was shocking and at the time very hard for me to wrap my mind around…
They told her she would have to get emergency heart surgery: triple bypass heart surgery.
[ MORE ANATOMY + PHYSIOLOGY ] “During coronary bypass surgery, a healthy blood vessel is taken from your leg, arm or chest and connected to the other arteries in your heart so that blood bypasses the diseased or blocked area.” — Mayo Clinic website >>>here.
They told her it was so important for her to do this that they scheduled her surgery for first thing the next morning, and pushed back all other surgeries for hers.
“but you’re so tiny!”
^^my mom always gets this reaction when people find out about her surgery.
In that moment, my mom was 40 years old. Her whole life she has been 98 lbs, and she is only 4 foot 11.
She doesn’t look like the obvious heart patient.
And today she doesn’t look like the typical person who has had any heart surgery either.
At any moment, she is the hardest working person in the room — and always the one with the best posture. Lol she pretty much engrained that in my head when I was younger: stand up straight, stand tall, stand proud!
Because of my mom and our fam history, I think about my own heart health pretty often. I know that it doesn’t matter that I’ve been ‘skinny’ all my life, or petite, or ‘tiny’.
A lot of other factors are in play when it comes to heart health…you know, like actually being healthy despite the way you may look on the outside.
how I think of heart health as a pre-physical therapy student
Besides learning about heart health for myself, I need to know more about it for future patients too. I know that if I’m sick or injured, then I google and research it myself to figure out how I can learn more about what’s going on in my body. So it’s important for me to know what other people will be seeing online when they are looking up heart health resources.
Here are a few resources I’m looking at :
- Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal, Cardiopulmonary APTA website >>>here ( highly recommend for pre-PT )
- The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations, The American Heart Association website >>>here
- How to Prevent Heart Disease, Go Red for Women website >>>here
Long story short, my mom was told she had heart burn, when what she really needed was an emergency heart surgery…
I learned a lot from my mom’s heart health story, and one I’ll never forget is this: to trust myself and my intuition when it comes to my health. If something feels wrong, but someone isn’t listening to me, then it’s critically important to keep looking for answers.
My mom knew she was worth it, and I’m so thankful she did because who knows what would’ve happened if she just believed that first doctor?
If you want to learn more + get involved on social media, here are some helpful hashtags to use or look up for the month:
Thank you so much for letting me share my mom’s story. I don’t talk about this a lot, but I always feel like the luckiest and most blessed person in the world when I think about my family <3