The Fit Student—How to Heal a Heart Attack on Your Birthday

The Fit Student—How to Heal a Heart Attack on Your Birthday

One year, Mom didn’t write to wish me a happy birthday.  We weren’t getting along and often clashed.  The next day, I found out she had a minor heart attack on my birthday.  I felt responsible and saddened.  “The current odds when it comes to your health are that you will die from the effects of one of the following common but often preventable conditions—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer” (Hahn, location 113 of 4072, 3%).

And Mom is in her 70s now, possibly prone to diabetes due to obesity.  “The odds also predict that one in very three children born in America will develop diabetes during their lifetime, that two-thirds of American adults will be overweight, and that one-half of those people will be overweight to the point of being obese” (Hahn, location 113 of 4072, 3%).  But I take comfort that Mom spends her springs and summers gardening.  She touches the soil, gaining microbes to bolster her immunity.  She eats fresh garden-grown veggies.  Plus, she cooks meals from scratch, sometimes in the kitchen for two hours straight.  And she filters her water.

Not only did Mom garden, but, for a while, she farmed chickens for their eggs.  I saw a documentary on confined animal feeding operations, and Mom’s chickens would’ve ranked in the top 1% of humanely raised animals.  During the day, they roamed freely on her seven acres of land.  Plus, Mom planted all kinds of trees with berries for her birds to eat.  Mom even had a chicken with a disability that she fed extra treats—sometimes cake.  So, Mom’s happy chickens likely laid healthy eggs.

“We optimize our chances of being healthy and staying well by eating right, by exercising regularly, by not smoking, and by avoiding excessive alcohol use” (Hahn, location 125 of 4072, 3%).

But what if we don’t take care of ourselves and have a heart attack?  Of what if we do take care of ourselves but get a burst brain tumor anyway?  Well, no amount of gardening or humanely grown eggs can save us in those crucial next moments.  But the doctor might.

After all, “We must take advantage of the miracles available today through modern preventive medical care” (Hahn, location 125 of 4072, 3%).

There are telltale signs indicating you need to see a doctor: “As part of their medical education, doctors are taught that there are certain classic symptoms that, until proven otherwise, are the first signs of a serious medical condition that requires urgent or even emergency treatment” (Hahn, location 141 of 4072, 3%).  For instance, “chest pain is one of the most important issues in all of medicine.  Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack or a signal that you are about to have a heart attack, and heart attacks and heart disease are the number one killers in America” (Hahn, location 1022 of 4072, 25%).

Aside from telltale signs of emergencies, there are rules that scream, “Go see a doctor!”  These self-explanatory rules are as follows:

  • “New Symptom Rule”
  • “Previously Unexplained Symptom Rule”
  • “Rapidly Changing Symptom Rule”
  • “Changing Skin and Bones Rule”
  • “Loss of Ability to Function Rule”
  • “Trust Your Instincts Rule” (Hahn, location 340 of 4072, 8%).

If any of these rules apply, seek medical advice.  After all, through “getting care when necessary, taking advantage of the full benefits of modern preventive care, and most importantly, eating well and exercising, every person can maximize the odds that they will live a long, healthy, and happy life” (Hahn, location 156 of 4072, 4%).

Mom is entering her twilight years.  The next birthday she doesn’t write, I’ll think back to the cake she fed her chicken with a disability.  But for now, we barely ever speak.

Hahn, Matthew, MD.  (2017).  Staying Alive: The Signs that You have to See a Doctor Right Now (and the Ways to Avoid Having to See One Again).  New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
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