We had a really interesting Sis, Let’s Do Brunch this season. Being the moderator I was prepared to go in discussing health, clinical solutions and trends. What I found as I approached the topic, there is always a more personal story in the room. This time wasn’t any different. In walks a larger than life woman. She entered this roof top space complementing the beautiful decor, and summer breeze with a effervescent glow, fro and peaceful aura. Her sheer essence made everyone look in her direction. She is a mentor residing in California by way of Indiana from Chicago(AAAAAYYYE). Her connection to the community; working at an organization to help people become self sufficient; educating and mentoring the youth, including first generation college students; serving on several boards to elevate the lives of black women; She is a renaissance woman with a full life. She decided to join us at the seventh seasonal Sis Let’s Do Brunch and she definitely spilled the tea, a little ginger ale too.
We began by doing a brief meet and greet, the guests introduced themselves as we enjoyed a lovely brunch. After the introductions and few laughs, we headed over to the couch to continue our discussion on the matters of protecting our heart.
Our guest immediately opened up recalling a recent moment in her life where she felt weak and nauseous, waking in a puddle of sweat. As she sat and reflected on her current symptoms she recalled a meal she ingested just the night before while attending a gala and concluded her body was rejecting stated meal. I mean… the symptoms match, nausea, vomiting, sweating and weakness are definitely consistent of food poisoning, right? It wasn’t until two weeks later when this very active woman had shortness of breath while walking a short distance that she had no problem walking in the past. Yes, you read this previous sentence correct…. Two weeks later! She is a woman on the go and she had places to be and things to do, that is until her body said.. “OK, Girl! Enough is enough! I can’t go any longer!” She scheduled an appointment with her physician and shared her symptoms, asked all the questions she had and shared more symptoms. Her physician ordered an EKG (Electrocardiogram ; checks for signs of heart disease by recording the electrical activity of your heart through small electrode patches that a technician attaches to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs).
“What I learned about myself is, who and what I am made of”
I know what you’re thinking….. Why order an EKG when her symptoms are reflective of food poisoning? I’m glad you asked! According to Mayoclinic; (The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest.) But it is not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women. And, sometimes, women may have a heart attack without chest pain. Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as; neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms, nausea or vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness or dizziness, and unusual fatigue. Our guest’s EKG revealed she had a heart attack (death of muscle tissue due to lack of blood and oxygen supply). I applaud her physician for listening, hearing, and understanding her patient’s needs then implementing care.
The question stands; How can an active woman in good shape, nonsmoker, fairly balanced diet (admittedly a meat eater) and who appears healthy have a heart attack?
Stress is a normal part of life and it is up to us to cope because if left unmanaged stress can lead to serious health complications and your heart will be the main organ affected. It is unclear how stress increases the risk for heart disease but if we think about it, stress could exacerbate previous conditions such as hypertension or high cholesterol. Stress exposes your body to elevated stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Stress also changes the way the blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attacks.
“I was eating stupid food, just stupid foods. I have new behaviors now, and I feel good about it. I’m not perfect, but I am proud of who I am today”
This Sis Let’s Do Brunch was not only informative, but a reminder to listen to your body, trust your instincts and it’s okay to ask questions. I have been in this industry for almost twenty years and I am amazed at the lack of information we all have but are privy to. Find yourself a sister-friend, circle, or create one to make sure you’re having the conversations-these very necessary conversations.
We as women wear many crowns; Mom, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Friend, Coworker, Boss … we wear these crowns proudly without tilting the bib. It is imperative we uplift one another without tilting our crowns. Sis, if i see yours tilting I will lend a hand…. If you feel yours falling ask someone to catch it before it hits the ground.”Real Queens Fix Each others Crowns” -Unknown
Interview: Samantha D Frazier R.N., C.H.C.