This past Thursday, I went to see my cardiologist as I do every month. I feel that honesty with your doctors and nurses is crucial! If you are not honest, your treatment and diagnosis can be incorrect and downright dangerous. Lately I’ve been experiencing a tingling in my left arm.  It would tend to come and go. The night before my appointment it was not only in my arm but in my face.  It went away within thirty minutes and I knew I had my doctor’s appointment the next day so I didn’t do anything about it.

I went to my appointment and saw my transplant coordinator before seeing the cardiologist and mentioned the symptoms. She finished her evaluation and went to discuss with the doctor and then have him come in. While I was waiting the symptoms started again and I told her. She listened to my heart and I was having irregular rhythms. She consulted with the doctor and they decided the best course of action was to send me to the Emergency Room.

Do you know why? Are you aware of what those symptoms could be?

I was in the ER receiving a full neurological workup and head CT to be sure I was not having a STROKE! All I could think was, “My heart sucks and now I’m having a stroke… great!” Would you like to take a guess as to how I felt? Scared? Nope, I was seriously annoyed and angry. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was ok. At the same time, I knew the ER was the right thing to do.

You see, as an Ambassador for the American Heart Association, I tell women all the time, “If you have the symptoms – GO! You will be annoyed, it will inconvenient, but if you’re wrong; you’ll be dead”. It’s hard! Even after preaching this for nine years I still didn’t want to go! Women are more likely than men prioritize their concern for others and focus on care-taking over concern for their own well-being, and still have false perception of heart disease as being a “man’s disease.”

I had a meeting at 4:30pm about 30 minutes away – it was 2:00pm they were sending me to the ER and I was planning the last possible moment I could leave the ER and still get to the meeting on time. My mom texted asking about my appointment. I ignored her. It wasn’t until she was texting Dan, and I’m sure getting worried, that I finally called to let her know what was going on. She’s in the middle of a big move and I didn’t want to stress her out further.  In the end, I had to cancel the meeting and my family was worried. We were only in the ER about two and a half hours before they cleared me and I went home. I was not having a stroke.

Every time I’ve gone to the ER I’ve been very annoyed. I still feel like an inconvenience especially at times, like this week, when it isn’t as serious as it could have been. I don’t like worrying Dan and my family. For every feeling of annoyance, anger, embarrassment etc. I think of my kids. What if I’m wrong and I’m not fine? Is my annoyance and inconvenience worth risking the life of their mother? What would I tell someone else?

GO! Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. Know the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Like heart disease, strokes don’t discriminate and it can happen to you!

Know the signs and symptoms! If you're worried or not sure GO!
Know the signs and symptoms! If you’re worried or not sure GO!

Courage, dear heart ~ C.S.Lewis

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