February 3, 2010

Will you wear red on February 5, 2010?





     In 1997, when my sister Jane was 42, she experienced a massive heart attack that left her wondering whether some of the life-saving technology is truly beneficial.

     While I was exploring my genealogy, I learned that my maternal family has a history of heart attacks. The most recent fatality was my mother, who died early on the morning of January 3, 1998.

     When I experienced what I thought might be signs of heart problems, I took this family history to my physician. It was obvious this knowledge helped cut corners on my treatment, in which I ended up with a heart stent.

     When people scoffingly ask why I, and others, do genealogy, my first response is: Do you know your medical history?


      On September 24, 2009 the Pechin 5K Red Dress Run/Walk held in Dunbar, Pennsylvania, invited men to run in red dresses.

     This Friday the United States population will explode with red, making the unaware wonder if red is a new fashion fad.

     It isn’t. Friday, February 5, 2010, is National Wear Red Day®*. On the first Friday in February each year, women and men across the country can unite in the national movement to give women a personal and urgent wake-up call about their risk of heart disease.

     Proactive women will be spotted wearing red. (To view illustration, click on: )

     Whether men will don red dresses is unknown.

     Women may also be adorned with a pin, The Red Dress®, the centerpiece of The Heart Truth® that is a red alert to inspire women to take action to protect their heart health. The primary message driving The Heart Truth campaign is: “Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You Wear—It’s the #1 Killer of Women.®*

     I wasn’t sufficiently organized to acquire a pin, but I will wear red.

     After I had the stent inserted, my cardiologist informed me I was now a person with “cardiac artery disease.” In other words, a CAD. I jokingly told him that I always knew I was a cad, but now it was official.

     Although I’ve coexisted with other chronic conditions since my seventh year, this “disease” has altered my life in numerous ways.

     I’ve had to correct several persons who have informed me that ALL youth in the 1960s-1970s used drugs. Not so. I and my friends did not. In fact, I have a stance of finding natural alternatives to drugs. It rankled me that I had to watch children in custody at a youth shelter (where I worked part time) line up to get their “meds” morning, noon and night.

     One of the most difficult adjustments I had to make, being an official CAD, was taking my “meds” on a regular basis. The medications routine produced feelings of my being a part of a huge drug experimentation program. Initially there was a drug-thinner pill, which was discontinued after two years. The blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs have remained as a permanent part of my regimen. The cholesterol medication, most important, will remain because it has been determined that my cholesterol was high because my body manufactures it, not because of a poor diet.

     To remember to take them with the regularity that is required, I had to make another adjustment—submitting to a schedule, a routine, lest I forget to take my meds. I have to maintain a rigid enforcement of this “schedule,” even when I am away from home. For a person who “goes with the flow,” is spontaneous in nature, the scheduling proved difficult, and if it had interference, I became cranky. Oh well, the joys of life changes.

     The third major adjustment involved exercise. Mind you, I did walk. It didn’t give me the satisfied feeling people describe, but at one point, until I suffered a knee problem, I was walking up to two hours a day. I made the task somewhat entertaining by learning the likes and dislikes of all the dogs along the way, treating them with dog biscuits. This behavior made some persons consider that I had crossed the line from being eccentric to being insane, but it didn’t matter. The dogs became my friends and helped me endure walking. After all, I am basically a sedentary person.

     Then I had my one-year after-stent insertion cardiology appointment that included a stress test, which is done on a treadmill or with chemicals. My neighbor had a treadmill, so I traipsed over to her house throughout January and part of February, doing my “homework” for the test I knew was a challenge, because, as unpalatable as this routine was, it was preferable to the chemical test. I made it through the doctor’s testing with only a little difficulty.

     Exercise routines do not inspire me. Exercise doesn’t reduce my insomnia—it seems to increase it (no, I do not do the exercise before bedtime—I do it early in the day). It does not relax me. Nor does it help me lose weight in any reasonable time. And it isn’t fun. However, I do have a Silver Sneakers membership at the local YMCA, and do utilize it. Even better, I have a ski-motion mechanical (not electric) machine given to me by a friend, and a poorly working treadmill, which, if I have a decent television program on, I can endure. For exercise, whether I like the routine or not, is a part of my life.

     A further frustrating part of exercise is the time it takes. From the time I begin getting ready (which includes changing outfits so I can adorn my knee braces and exercise shoes) until the time I finish takes over an hour if I use my home equipment. If I go to the YMCA and do the routine there, which includes a swim session, it can take up to four hours of my day. If I had my preference, I’d be doing something else—writing, reading a good book, enjoying life. But I must exercise.

     Thus, the pill-popping, scheduling and exercise routines are my major life changes that came about due to being a CAD.

     Lest I leave this post on a negative note, I will add that I am slowly losing weight, and my metabolism has changed for the better. I have met new people at the YMCA, a positive. And, hopefully, I am regaining the time spent on the exercise program through years added to my life.

     As you complete reading this post, might I invite you to join me in wearing red on Friday. Might I also encourage you to learn the signs of heart attacks in both women and men, to learn your family’s cardiac history, and to take steps to reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

 National Wear Red Day is a registered trademark of HHS and AHA.” must appear at the bottom of every Web page and at least once in a print document.





Joseph R. (Smokey) Greshok: In Memory—January 19. 2010

January Catalogues Lead to June Gardens

Fitness Program Update: Week 4

Blogging: Does it Have Value? Part 1

Memoir Writing Can Elicit Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Deborah Nelson: Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

1 Comment »

  1. If you eat walnuts, they are very protective of the heart which is why us squirrels have such healthy hearts. My creator, Fran, was diagnosed as a CAD at the age of 9 – I wonder if that makes her better or worse at being one since she’s had so much more practice than most???? I will boast a red tie on friday, my creator will be decked out in red,

    Comment by Surefoot the Squirrel — February 3, 2010 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

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