As MedicAlert Foundation's Chief Operating Officer, I am often faced with daily decisions that will affect the operations of our charity, and impact our members' experience. My position comes with a lot of responsibility but also a mission I am passionate about.
I am also fortunate to be a MedicAlert member myself and this provides great insight on the needs of members.
February is National Heart Month
I don’t normally share the personal story of my own health; however, in the spirit of National Heart Month, I have been encouraged to do so. I hope that my experience inspires others to take care of their health.
Flashback to 2008, I was in my forties and probably in the best shape of my life; I was exercising and weight training six days a week, and eating a low-fat diet. Then in December of that year, I experienced a heart attack. My left anterior descending artery (known as the "widow maker") was 100% blocked.
To combat this, I had two stents placed in my artery; and after two sub-sequent surgeries, another two stents were also added. All of this happened within six months of the heart attack. And after 4 surgeries, my artery remained 100% blocked.
My father passed away at the age of 40 from this very thing, so you can imagine the fears I was experiencing. However, I now had my own family to live for, so I needed to get well. Yet, the news was not so promising - Doctors now told me I had a "50% chance at living another 5 years".
Let me repeat that…50% chance….5 years!
My main wish at that time was just to live long enough to see my youngest son graduate high school in the spring of 2009. So, off to cardiac rehabilitation I went. Similar to physical therapy, cardiac rehab helped me with my diet, taught me to moderate my food intake, modify my exercise routine, and be aware of my surroundings.
I am forever grateful to the Chandler Regional Cardiac Rehab team for helping me with the transition.
MedicAlert Medical ID & Membership
As a result of this new awareness, I joined MedicAlert Foundation and purchased a MedicAlert medical ID. If I could replay the chaos that occurred in my home during the heart attack incident, you would understand the important role MedicAlert plays in my health.
The day of the heart attack, the first thing paramedics wanted to know was…can you guess? Yes, my previous health history and list of medications. I was conscious and fully alert but unable to provide the information in an organized way.
My children scurried around the house in search of my medications and health information so that paramedics had the information they needed. If you're imaging that scene in your mind, then you know, this was not productive, nor good for my immediate treatment and care.
Therefore today, I wear my MedicAlert medical ID stretch band ALL THE TIME and ensure my MedicAlert health information record is up-to-date. Because - like you - I want to avoid emergency chaos in the future and I want to know that my information will be available immediately when time and accuracy matter most.
Celebrating Life & Good Health
So how is my progress today? I have congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease but continue to enjoy living each day. To further improve my condition, I made a decision approximately one year ago, to begin eating a plant-based diet.
And…this past December I made it past my expiration date and am victoriously celebrating life each day. In fact, we had a wonderful celebration at the Foundation to commemorate my victory.
Life is good, yet this February, my reminder to all of you is to pay attention to your heart health. I'm living proof that even an active, healthy adult can be stricken with heart disease. So please - for your family, your friends, and for you – make your heart health a priority.