Keep it Healthy This Holiday Season

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Yesterday, my oldest daughter went to visit her doctor with some of the really fun symptoms nobody wants – chest pain, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and a partridge in a pear tree. All it took was a look at her blood pressure, and the doctor sent her on her merry way – straight to the hospital. They did some blood work, and she got a nice warm bed for the night.

So far, the tests are inconclusive. There may be a few different things going on, or they could all be related. A stress test this morning will help them zero in a little more. When she described symptoms that began two weeks ago, like fluttering of the heart followed by the sensation that she’d been punched in the chest, I formed my own opinion. Those are not the kind of symptoms you ignore.

This is my public service message for the year, so bear with me. Heart attacks can strike at any age, and they’re twice as likely to be fatal for young women than men. And they seem to like the holidays. There are more deaths from heart attacks on December 25 than any other day, with December 26 coming in second, and January 1 coming in third. So yeah. Something to keep in mind.

Also, women don’t usually experience the same heart attack symptoms as men. We always think of the old man bent over on the sidewalk, holding on to a streetlamp, clutching his chest in agony as he slowly falls to the ground. It’s not usually that way with women. They may not feel anything more than mild indigestion with a little nausea or shortness of breath. That’s if they feel anything at all.

My daughter knows this, probably more than anybody else. She’s a registered nurse and has worked with a lot of elderly and terminal patients. But if you ask any doctor to describe their worst possible patient, nurses will be near the top of the list. It’s like the proverbial carpenter’s wife, who watches her husband fix things for everyone in town while their own house is falling down around them.

Yesterday we talked about knowing our limits, doing what we can do without overdoing it. This is a time of year when we tend to ignore the signals our body quietly sends out and we keep going and going like an Energizer bunny with a brand-new battery. Only that battery isn’t as new as we’d like to think. And sooner or later, it’ll peter out. If we’re lucky, we get by with a mild case of exhaustion.

I’ve had a heart attack, so I know a little about the subject. As little as anybody else out there, which is almost nothing. At least when it comes to advising other people, because I know from experience the symptoms are never the same from one person to another, sometimes even with the same person. I had chest pain for years before the real thing hit. And when it did, it was nothing like the warnings.

Doctors tell us that if we even suspect a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Not later, now. And I know, that’s not an easy decision to make. Is this the real thing, or just indigestion? Did I pull a muscle carrying boxes upstairs? Is my shortness of breath just a sign that I need to exercise more? Maybe. But while we’re thinking about those things, we could be in a life-or-death emergency.

Nobody likes emergency rooms. And if you go into the ER with chest pain, you’re probably not going home that night. Odds are, it won’t amount to anything more than some tests and a hefty medical bill. I get it. I’ve had that conversation with myself at least a hundred times. Like that day in the Atlanta airport, slumped against a concrete pole with sweat pouring down my face. Get the picture?

One other reminder I’d like to pass along. As you’re out and about, especially this time of year, pay attention to people. Not just the seedy looking guy who’s following a little too closely in the store, but that person sitting on a display of bottled water, looking like he just finished the Boston Marathon. Seconds count, and I know the feeling of watching hundreds of people walk by when you need them the most.

I’m not sure yet what’s going on with my daughter, but I’m happy knowing she’s where she needs to be. It may be a combination of issues, or just a little pre-holiday stress. We’ll get some answers today, and odds are she’ll be back home tonight. But I also know how quickly things could have gone the other way. Don’t take chances on your health. Your family is counting on you. And so am I.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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