Trusting Your Heart (And Your Gut)

It's a sad reality that heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country, but the fact that women experiencing symptoms of heart disease are more likely to be diagnosed with gas is even scarier.

As a heart patient, I know the difference between passing a little wind and a heart attack.There came a time that I had to put my foot down and say to one young, handsome emergency room doctor, "Please don't go by statistics when you are examine me. I am an individual and I have unique needs. I may look well but I don't feel well."

Yes, I know that one of the unusual symptoms of a heart attack can be indigestion (along with jaw pain, pressure and shoulder pain) and that it's due dilligence to rule out other possible cause. But in my experience, if your gut says something's wrong, then something is probably wrong.

While I never attempt to diagnose my own chest pain, I also don't let my doctor tell me it's nothing if I know it's more. You are your own best health advocate. Because of my determination to stay healthy I have prevented many possible issues.

Two years ago, I caught what I thought was a cold. However, when it hurt to cough I knew it was time to see the doctor. I had bronchitis which could have quickly turned into something horrible for someone in congestive heart failure like myself.

It happened again after that, but this time it was pneumonia. I didn't have any pain or normal symptoms of pneumonia, but I knew something was wrong. 

I've heard that before a heart attack some people get a feeling of impending doom. That is instinct. It's there to protect us. I never spoke about it at the time, but when I was pregnant I kept having this feeling that something was going to go wrong...and it did. This was my fifth pregnancy and I had never had that feeling before. And nothing had ever gone wrong before. There  wasn't  any  fear associated with the feeling. It was more of a "get prepared to fight" kind of feeling. Because of my instinct, I was able to have the strength to keep fighting.

I'm not sure if most people experience these types of warning signs, but I am glad that I listen to my body. I go in to speak with my doctor with the questions in hand. I don't allow any type of fear to lead ne, including fear of asking toomany questions, fear of looking silly if nothing is wrong, or fear of what will happen if something IS wrong.

I know that my health is important just as important as my doctor's time. I don't feel inferior when I strut myself into his office with my HMO (like I used to). I now know how important it is to speak up for myself. That's what saved my life!

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