I began thinking about this Chi entry several weeks ago while sitting in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit in Albuquerque after my mother-in-law’s unexpected, emergency triple bypass surgery.
This particular weekend I was supposed to be signing my name in the log at the top of another Colorado 14er with my sister-in-law, Tammy, a celebration of her newfound health. Over the last year, she’s lost nearly 100 pounds, has completely changed her diet and activity level, and to top it off has started working as a flight attendant at 47 years old! She’s on cloud nine.
But on this day we’re worried. My mother-in-law isn’t taking the normal path of recovery, she’s on a ventilator, and she looks so vulnerable.
Over the course of my mother-in-law’s 17-day stay in the CCU, I talked with a lot of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, and I read a lot of heart health articles. I was trying to figure out the best ways to take care of our heart.
One pharmacist told me that people need to be more in charge of their own health, meaning we need to pay attention to our bodies so we’re in tune when something isn’t right. We are our own best advocates.
A few things we can easily do for ourselves include:
- Eating healthy
- Exercising (many reports say to work up a sweat 3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes)
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol (a little bit of red wine is said to go a long way toward our heart health)
- Keeping an eye on blood pressure (known as the silent killer because so many people don’t show signs)
- Being aware of any changes in overall health, for example any change in level of energy or shortness of breath
- Getting checked out when you’re not feeling like yourself
- Finding a doctor who listens
- Ridding ourselves of stress (for women especially, this is easier said than done)
Today my mother-in-law is home and still slowly recovering, she’s making changes in her diet, and realizing how fragile life can be.
Today I’m getting new blood pressure medicine because I knew something wasn’t right with my old one. I’m advocating for myself, I have a new doctor, and am determined to continue being in charge of my life and my health.
A lot of people are surprised to learn that I have high-blood pressure. I exercise, I have a healthy diet, and I’m not overweight. What I do have is a genetic predisposition. High-blood pressure runs in my family, with most everyone on both sides, an unfortunate destiny. The good news is that with my lifestyle, it’s now only taking a low dose of medicine to keep me feeling great.
Today my sister-in-law is flying around the country and waiting to reach the summit of her first 14er. She’s already purchased a mug celebrating her ascent and has purchased gear and appropriate layered clothing. With her new lease on life, she’s looking forward to doing things she never thought possible.
Today, the Albuquerque hospital is getting new heart patients, some who will make it and some who won’t.
Today, take charge, be fit, be healthy, and have fun with your life.
Need a fun place to hike around? Head to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument between Santa Fe and Albuquerque for some of the coolest rock formations in the country.
The unique, volcanic Tent Rock structures are what’re left of the original formations from 6 to 7 million years ago and look similar to formations found in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.
Tent Rocks is scenic, cultural, geologic, and an unexpected, hidden, New Mexico gem.