We've all been inundated with news bulletins, educational programs and warnings from doctors concerning women and heart disease. I'm sure many of you react the same way I always have. "Who are these people lecturing me? Do they really know what they're talking about? After all, these are the health specialists who are constantly changing their minds about diets, approving one drug and then turning around and banning it, telling us one day wine is good for you and the next it's poison."
Who should we believe? Believe your heart. Believe your body. If you listen, it will tell you when trouble is coming.
I've had chest pains off and on for several years. Jay will always rush me to the emergency room, only to find out it's acid reflux, heartburn or simple stress. But a couple of months ago, I felt as though someone had placed a 50-pound brick on my chest. This went on for quite some time, until Jay finally insisted he take me to the ER.
The ride to the hospital was uneventful. I knew what they were going to say. Give her high-powered Zantac or Pepcid and send her home. This time, however, was different. They would not let me leave. I pleaded with them that there was a roast waiting at home for me to fix and feed my family. Now was not the time to have indigestion.
I spent the night there and, bright and early the next morning, was taken down for a heart catheterization. Then the doctor was leaning over me saying, "Mrs Fickle, you have two arteries that are 75 percent blocked. We have to do something about it right away."
I don't know what kind of drugs they give you for this procedure, but I was more than agreeable. "Sure, doc, go ahead and do what you got to do. Just get me home in time to cook dinner."
It wasn't quite that simple. I now have two stints in my chest and am a card-carrying cardiology patient with permission to go through any radar at any airport.
Well, that's what they told me, anyway.
I guess what I'm trying to emphasize is that women and heart disease is a growing problem in our society. Don't think it can never happen to you.
Please, pay attention to what your body's saying. I lucked out. I had a good husband, a good hospital and a great doctor. If I had ignored the warning signs, I might not be here today.
(Pat Fickle is a Martinez resident.)
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