Two weeks ago, I got one of those 1 AM calls that make your skin crawl....wondering what is wrong in the world of someone that we love.  This time it was my sister-in-law reporting that my mother had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital.  She was having chest pains.  She is 84 years old and I swallowed really know when you have the bubble in your chest that won't go away due to stress.  I called the hospital and she had not arrived there yet.  I am sure that it was only minutes later that she did arrive....but it felt like hours.  It is so hard to live 1,000 miles away from a loved one.  It seemed like such a good idea to move to Florida 18 years ago...who was thinking about old age and health issues.  We were all young, healthy and happy.  But, now it is a struggle that I am told that is shared with millions of people across this country....coupled with the fact that most of our parents do not want to relocate to be near us...and we can't find jobs where our parents are located.  That was what facilitated my move in the first place...a job.

     Anyway, I finally called the emergency room a second time to find that she was there and well!  Oh she had some discomfort...but they said that it was acid reflux.  I accepted that decision (regretfully now).  She was sent home after being given a GI cocktail that seemed to appease her somewhat. 

     A week went by.  One week to the hour of the first ordeal, I got the second call that she was being taken by ambulance again.  I was able to catch her at home to find that she was in intense pain.  She told me that she knew it wasn't acid reflux...she knew that she was having a heart attack.  THIS time, went to the hospital and made a huge fuss.  She yelled as loud as she could to get their attention.  The doctor on duty started the heart monitoring.  He ordered tests this time that showed that she had already had or was about to have a heart attack.  He called in a cardiologist.  His findings were confirmed.  Within hours, she was moved to a hospital in Cranberry, PA that specializes in angioplasties.  That was all that she needed.  She had had 95% blockage and it was cleared within the nick of time.  She is currently in rehab to get her limbs mobile again after so much rest. 

     I took the long way to tell this story because so many women are sent home from hospitals with the diagnosis of indigestion or hypochondria.  That makes me so angry.  I am so grateful that my mother is okay.  But, if it were not for the grace of God....she could have been dead after her first encounter when they sent her home with indigestion.  Ladies....indigestion is a sign of heart failure.  If it is bad enough to send you to the emergency room...make them check your heart.  Make them do blood tests....not just an EKG.  You are your best advocate.  They are busy in emergency rooms and push one body in while pushing another body cows lead to and from the slaughter.  They have to be analytical to get through the day.  I am sure that all of these wonderful nurses and doctors started out with caring hearts....and still want to care...but after seeing the same thing day in and day becomes robotic.  We need to remind them that we are people and not cows.  We need to remind them in a kind way.  They are overworked and tired a lot of the time.  They too have kids and spouses at home whom they are concerned about as they work on you.  Their minds are wondering to their personal responsibilities just like the rest of us.  Sometimes, they might overlook something important that would otherwise not be overlooked if they were rested and fulfilled.  I am not blaming them for a lot of the mistakes that take place under their care because they are human.  Yes, it is their job....but it is also our job to be sure that they have all of the pertinent information...don't assume.  Don't doesn't matter.  Don't downplay something that is nagging at you.  Tell them.  If it is important they will then know...and if it is not might get tagged as a hypochondriac....but I would rather be labeled than to ignore an important fact regarding health.  We need to remember that the doctor, nurse, tech at your local hospital are NOT God(s).  They answer to God the same way that we do.  Most of us get to the hospital and think....okay...I am in good hands...they can take over.  That is a wrong attitude.  You need to participate.  You need to delegate who will care for you.  If possible, you need to have a family member or friend who is good with keeping facts straight there with you.  Two sets of ears are better than one set. 

So, ladies, if you had a spicy meal and have heart burn....maybe that is all that it is.  But, the next time that you have heart burn and know that you haven't eaten anything to trigger it....think about your heart.  Advocate for yourself.  You may only have minutes to do Nike says....JUST DO IT!!!