by Melissa Brunner
I'm pretty sure I've worn red for each of the 10 years the American Heart Association's National Wear Red Day has been in existance. This year, it comes with a bit of added perspective.
You know how they say those phone calls in the middle of the night never bring good news? That was exactly my thought when my cell phone rang around 3am when morning in late August. My mom had suffered what, thankfully, turned out to be a minor heart attack. They took her to the cath lab the next morning and put in a couple stents. No major surgery required, no major damage to the heart muscle. She truly dodged a bullet.
It's especially true because my mom was typical of many women - she ignored the symptoms at first. She knew she wasn't feeling quite right but thought she could tough it out. Finally, she decided to have my sister check her blood pressure (they have one of those home units because my dad had heart surgery a few years earlier) and it was dangerously high. She agreed to have my sister drive her to the hospital - where mom said she was amazed how quickly they jumped into action to respond.
Not everyone is so lucky. One in three women in America dies from heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. If you suspect problems, don't ignore them - and call an ambulance rather than driving to the ER.
My mom is doing great today. She's completed cardiac rehab, is riding her exercise bike regularly and has lost nearly 20 pounds. She plans to add walking to the regimen this spring (it is winter in Wisconsin, after all!).
Today, I wear red and think of my mom and my dad and how lucky I am to still have them both.