Heart attacks are the number one killer of women in the United States. But, often women are too busy carrying for their families to care for themselves, and they often ignore the warning signs, which can be very subtle. This weekend, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, remember to help your mother…grandmother…wife…daughter…sister…friend… take care of herself so that she can continue to do what she loves most, which is to take care of others.
For heart attack survivors (or for a survivor of any life-threatening condition), it doesn’t take an extreme physical event to have a profound emotional and spiritual impact.
Meet Emily Wheaton. She is a young, active, healthy wife and mother of four children, ages 11-18. Two years ago, Emily had a heart attack. Here’s Emily’s story of survival and hope, which she shared recently at the Providence Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler.
Emily’s Story, in her own words:
So many of the heart attack survivor stories we hear focus on the physical experience of a heart attack—risk factors, warning signs, symptoms, prevention, surgical scars. Where all of those are very important, my story is a little different.
You see, I don’t have a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. I’ve been an active runner for about nine years and I manage stress as well as any mother of four children does.
I didn’t experience a sharp pain in my chest or an open-heart surgery. My heart attack felt like severe indigestion. My arms felt extremely hot and heavy and I remember telling my husband that I just felt weird.
My story isn’t so much about a new physical reality, but an emotional one. Being a mother to my four children is my dream fulfilled. And like so many moms, I tried to wear my Supermom cape everywhere I went. But on February 20, 2011, my heart attack ripped that cape right off of my back because I realized for the first time that I’m not as invincible as I thought I was. Heaven forbid, I ever ask for help!
And so I have learned in the last couple of years to let go of some things, and it has really paid off. For example, I’ve learned that my oldest daughter is a rock star at doing laundry and that my husband is just as capable a parent as I am! I’ve slowly been putting more trust and faith in my children, my family, my friends and my church and realized that getting a little bit of help is a good thing. Emotionally, that is not easy to admit for a self-proclaimed Supermom.
I’ve also had to learn to confront some fears. I’ve been afraid to relinquish control. I’ve been afraid to run again. I’ve been scared thinking about not only losing my family, but the impact it would have on them to lose a wife and mother. But a sweet friend reminded me that I didn’t live in fear before my heart attack and that I cannot let fear be bigger than my faith. And that’s what I want you to take with you today.
God pinched my heart for a reason. I am certainly more mindful of my physical body and health. But for me, the greatest impact has been emotional and spiritual. I have really tried to become more intentional in my life and in my relationships. We only get to do this life once and I want mine to count!
As women, we are a powerful force, especially for one another. Never let fear be bigger than your faith. Faith in God, faith in your family, faith in unicorns and faith in each other will carry you through!
Give the gift of life for Mother’s Day. Schedule your Mom for her HEARTSENSETM screening today…a simple calcium-scoring heart test, which is non-invasive and painless. Call 803.255.2828 for more information, or visit www.scheart.com and click on the Preventive Services tab.
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