Thursday, October 27, 2011

Go Red! (It's not just for baseball anymore)

While I was in the ICU in April, I pondered the need for therapy.  After all, I had survived a rare condition when the odds said my family should be planning my funeral.  I didn't, and still really don't, understand why I survived when so many don't.  My aunt Lisa, living in Nashville at the time, hopped online to figure out if there were other people like me. And bittersweetly enough, there are.  There are about 200 of us, all over the world, who've had SCAD during their monthly period, post-partum, in menopause or for no identifiable reason at all.  I appear to be the youngest.  There is a woman who had her SCAD in 1982 - she wears a medic alert bracelet even today, though many healthcare workers have no idea what SCAD is.  The "WomenHeart" Community on Inspire.com has been a better support to me than any therapist could have been.  They have stood in my shoes, felt the same pain and frustration, and have come back tougher and stronger.  Two of the survivors have worked so hard to raise awareness that the Wall Street Journal took notice in late August.  The Mayo Clinic is seeking SCAD survivors to participate in a study.  THAT is inspiring to me.  And this week, I turn on my TV (channel 5 was airing a heart health special) and to my awe and shock, one of these pioneering women was featured.  WOW.  So great.

As I mentioned a few posts back, a work acquaintance put me in touch with the local chapter of Go Red for Women.  Go Red celebrates the power and passion of women to band together to end heart disease and strokes.  Throughout the month of October, I have participated in a number of Go Red events.  I was asked to share my story at the Go Red board meeting, which I did yesterday morning.  As a fundraiser, I realize how important it is to tell your story - or find people who can share your "WHY".  As I walked into a room full of people (quite frankly, whose $$ I'd like to support SLLIS!), I was NERVOUS.  I have shared my heart attack with friends and family and through this blog, but hadn't spoken to a room of strangers yet.  However, once I got started, everything just came pouring out.  Not as eloquently as I would have like (or how I was able to write it), but I think I made the point.  Everyone sitting in that room needed to be reminded (inspired to action!) of why they choose to volunteer their time to GRFW.  At a recent survivor recognition event, I met a woman who has arterial spasms that caused her heart attack at the age of 30. Four years later, she has a little boy on the way and couldn't be happier. Hearing her story made me realize that I'm just at the beginning of mine (even though its been 6 months).  And because I survived, when so many others didn't, I'll keep sharing my story.  Maybe one day, SCAD will be a thing of the past like, oh I don't know, the plague or something.  Until then, I take comfort in the reality that I'm in the company of some amazing, AMAZING (AH-MAH-ZING as Penny on Happy Endings would say) women. 

So... the best medicine for me?  See below.  And the boa doesn't hurt either :)

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." - Karl Menninger

"When we honestly ask ourselves what people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate now knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." -- Henri Nouwen

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