Sunday, February 3, 2013
EXPERIENCING A HEART ATTACK
It is now exactly two months since 'it' happened and I'm just beginning to try and put it all in perspective...especially since the name of the kind of attack I had was "Broken Heart Syndrome".
Physically this means that the heart stopped opening and closing at its tip which leaves one very vulnerable to a clot or a stroke. As a reesult your heart is only functioning at half strength. Rather than a flow rate of 63 mine was at 33 (it is now up to 51 which makes my doctor very happy eventhough it is not yet normal). It is the emotional side that has given me much more pause.
Statistically this 'broken heart syndrome' is most commonly exprerienced by women my age, who have usually lost someone. My first response therefore was "I must have had a really 'delayed reaction' since my husband died almost 22 years ago".
It is also common to women under a lot of stress. I had been in the thoes of producing an Off Broadway show at an Off Broadway theatre (right across the street from where I live) that was very desirous of having the show...Mah Jongg, The Musical...in their theatre. However after weeks of extraordinary stress getting all the elements together, a budget was drawn up which demontrated that, given our costs, selling out 100% at the top ticket price, we nevertheless stood to lose money as there were not enough seats in this beautiful, but small theatre, to even 'break even'. Strangely, I felt more relief than unhappiness at that time....that's how stressed I must have been.
As far as the grief element goes, what I believe to be the most beneficial step a new widow or widower can do, was also the cause of my grief. I, of course, am talking about the acquisition of our precious pets. There is nothing more comforting than our furry friends when we find ourselves alone.
They are our pals, our companions, and in many ways, our new beloved 'kids'. Two years ago this coming Spring I lost two of my four precious puppies.
The oldest, Kramer, who had been with me since I was widowed, was a handicapped dog whom I had nursed through his loss of movement in his back legs. I became well known as the lady with her dogs sitting in a shopping cart, which I had realized was the best way to take Kramer around after his surgery from a ruptured disc did not succeed in 'bringing him back'. His three sisters were slelcted based on the way they all looked together in the cart. So when I finally was advised to put Kramer 'down' because his incontinence, barking and biting had reached inordinate levels, I did so, and then spent the next few days in tremendous sadness with the tears flowing.
But nothing prepared me when exactly a week to the day I had said 'good-bye' to Kramer, to lose my youngest and smallest dog, Coconut---everyone's favorite due to her size. She had awakened that morning and collapsed, and later, that night, after spending the day at the vet and in the animal hospital, I was called and informed that she had died. I have no words to describe how distraught I became. It was the unexpected element of her death that made it so extremely difficult.
The loss was intense and since that time I have said so frequently:
"I'm still traumatized by the death of Coconut"
More stress than I had ever been under; the loss of my beloved two puppies, and the shock recently felt when I read in the paper about the death of a dear friend whom I rarely saw or spoke with, but whose very successful career (he was the well known TV chef---Mr Food) I had had a hand in creating when I invited him to be my 'food person' on a morning talk show I hosted in the early 70's called 'Coffeebreak' on the upstate NY ABC affiliate. That too, elicited a great deal of shock and sadness about two weeks prior to my heart attack.
My advice this session therefore is: Don't just take these kinds of events lightly...take time to talk about them when they happen and find time to talk to a therapist as well when you are hurting, because unbeknownst to most people, these kinds of happenings can take a toll on our fragile 'hearts'.
So, if and when you feel tremendous pain in your chest...you may indeed have 'a broken heart'.
Hope my tale maybe helps all of you out there in one way or another...and oh yes...don't wait if you have this pain....call 911 immediatly...I did not and probably did more damage as a result.
But I shall close with the fact that I am swimming daily; lifting weights; riding my stationary bike twice a day, doing floor exercises, and staying away from salted foods, which has all helped to bring my 'flow rate' back up to almost normal...take heed...
Mimi Scott, Ph.D