February is American Heart Month.
Well, if you ask me, every month should be Heart Month. Every month should be Cancer Awareness Month. Every month should be Diabetes Awareness Month. These are all diseases that have one thing in common…a lot of cases can be prevented by eating healthy and exercising. However, some cannot, sometimes heredity plays a bigger role, which means you need to be in tune with your body.
In 1998, we found out my father had coronary heart disease when an angiogram revealed two blockages in two arteries of 20%. For many years this was treated with medication.
Then, in September of 2007, Dad started having a burning feeling in his chest. Dad had a stress test, which showed that something wasn’t right. In October 2007, Dad had another Angiogram. Up until this point, we hadn’t experienced anything like this in our family, so we were terrified. For me, it was like someone hit me with a reality freight train. My Papa, my idol, and one of my childhood heroes (the other being my Mom, of course) was in a hospital getting a procedure that could possibly show us there is a problem with his heart.
Dad had two blockages. If I remember correctly, one artery had two blockages. One blockage was 65% blocked and the other was 80%. They did an Angioplasty right then and there.
In January 2008, another angiogram revealed that the two arteries had blocked up again. Dad had another angioplasty to clear the arteries, but was advised that he would eventually need bypass surgery. Just a few short months later, in April 2008, Dad was back in the hospital for another angiogram. This time the verdict was much worse. The blockages were back and were more severe. Dad was scheduled for Bypass Surgery and sent home with some medication in case he had any issues before his surgery.
In May 2008, surgery day came and again, we were all terrified. We knew Dad was not only under anesthesia, but they were going to stop his heart.
I remember that day almost like it was yesterday. I remember sitting in the waiting area surrounded by family, having to bring Mom over to a different area of the waiting room for a bit so that she could gather her bearings, and making cafeteria runs to make sure she was eating a little bit. Finally, we got the word that surgery went well and Dad was moved to the ICU.
I walked in to the ICU and there was my Papa, SuperDad, connected to machines…lots of machines. Breathing machines, blood pressure monitors, fluids…so many that it was overwhelming. Still to this day when I think about it, I cry.
Then something kind of funny happened. You heard the nurse repeatedly telling Dad, “Carroll, stop fighting the machine. Let the machine breath for you.” I almost laughed. There was my stubborn father trying to overtake a breathing machine. That’s my papa! That’s when I knew he was going to be okay.
and he was…
It’s been several years since that happened and Dad is still with us, and strong as ever. Now, I hope everyone figured out that the morale of my story is not how awesome my Papa is (even though he is).
It is that even though you may take care of yourself, heredity plays a role too (and sometimes heredity can be nastier than unhealthy foods…in my opinion). Listen to your heart, listen to your body, and listen to your gut feeling.
You and you alone are responsible for your body. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.
For February, all of my miles are going to Women Heart in honor of American Heart Month, so that all women have the resources they need to prevent heart disease and the support they need to fight it.
I am walking in February in memory of my Grandma and my Uncle Bobby and in honor of my Father, my Uncle Casey, my Uncle Bill, my Uncle Ronnie, and my Cousin Scott. I love you all!
By: Kristy Davis, Bee Well For Life Ambassador