And sometimes, the "what if..." game is not so fun. Every day, at least once a day, I wonder to myself:
What if I had died on April 13, 2011?
As far as I know, my SCAD & heart attack are the closest I've come to dying.
So - really - what if I had died from my heart attack?
It was a beautiful day and Brian, Cameron and Mowgli were all outside enjoying the sunshine after days of rain. Brian would have found me in the bathroom, still in my nightgown with wet hands and fresh breath. Our old bathroom was small, so I probably would have hit my head on the way down and would have been bleeding. Brian's pretty calm, even when he freaks out. He would have called 911 and the ambulance would have come. SCAD kills about 70% of its victims instantly. Chances are slim that they would have done anything but pronounce me dead at the scene.
Somehow, my family and friends would find out. My mom stays remarkably calm and controlled in the face of tragedy. She, along with Brian's family, would have helped alot with Cameron, while my aunt Lisa helped Brian plan a funeral. Strangely, people would begin to find out through disbelieving posts on my facebook page.... maybe through an obituary announcement in the newspaper. "Did you hear what happened to Rachel?" Friends would post pictures and hopefully tell silly stories of all the ridiculous things I did growing up. People I haven't spoken to in years would have lamented about never getting around to having lunch or making the coffee date. Knowing the company I keep, Brian and Cameron would have been overwhelmed with love and support and food and help. Brian would have been annoyed that there was too much food in the refrigerator and all he'd want is frozen pizzas.
After awhile, folks would move on. I mean, there would still be sadness, but for everyone else - life goes on.
Brian would have taken a good portion of time off work. I'd like to think that he would have picked up and moved to Colorado, but in reality, he'd be a single dad with a newborn and all his family is here. So perhaps, he would have stay put for a few years. Cameron would still be the most loved child in existence - perhaps even more doted on than he is now. At night, Brian would tell him stories about me and at night before bed, he'd say "I love you, mama" even though he would never really remember me.
Ok - you get the picture. I'll stop here because even this is too much for me. Luckily, that's not the way the story ended.
So. What does it mean to me to "Go Red"?
- It means that I'm a survivor. It means that I took my symptoms seriously and took action.
- It means that I will take better care of my body, for myself and my well-being
- It means that Cameron will have a mama and Brian will have a wife as long as my janky heart continues to beat
- It means that Cameron will be raised as heart healthy as we can manage
- It means that you'll probably get sick of me talking about heart health and exercise and portion control and trying something new and taking chances and seizing the moment.
- It means that you'll never get sick of seeing pictures of me with my family
- It means that anyone who knows me will know my story and hopefully, that will save lives.
- It means when you or a loved one has symptoms of heart disease, you will take action
- It means that I've joined an army of women in red dresses and heels who won't let heart disease win.
- My survival means that advocating for heart health isn't an option or a choice - it is part of my new normal.
Recently, I was out to breakfast with new acquaintance who asked me "What's the deal with your red pin?" I replied "Well, I am heart attack survivor....." and before I could continue, she exclaimed "Well, no shit! So am I. It happened, out of the blue, just a few months ago." And quickly, our business-y breakfast transformed into a wonderful sharing of stories. Sadly, our stories are a bit similar. She was healthy and in good shape when she had her heart attack. And no one can tell her exactly why it happened, but now she's on a bunch of pills and hopes for the best.
I'm tired of hearing that story.... I'm tired of telling that story. It shouldn't be that way. So. That's why I Go Red. And I truly hope you'll join me.