February is the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada‘s “Heart Month” and while they emailed me weeks ago, I haven’t been able to compose myself enough to write about the topic until now.
It’s been exactly a year since my Oma was rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack. I met my family in her room at the hospital and didn’t know what to expect. My Oma was indestructible, at least I always thought so. At 89 she would be out in her garden pulling up weeds with her knuckles, making jams and jellies in her kitchen, and keeping up around the house with her great-grandchildren. That day she looked weak and worried. They had to move her to another hospital for a procedure and given a few other conditions, and her current state, we had no idea what to expect. She had another heart attack that sent her into a coma.
We spent days in shifts, rotating in and out of the ICU. I held her hand and listened to the chilling amplified sounds of the device that was helping her heart beat. I’ll never forget that sound as every time I heard one beat, I held my breath until I heard another. I counted dozens of wires attached to devices and pouches at her bedside, her hand and arm swollen from the needles. She had never been admitted to a hospital in her life.
Eventually she was moved out of the ICU and woken up. She enjoyed bragging to us about how she pulled through and how much better she was feeling each day. She had inside jokes with nurses, told them about all of her kids, and watched vases and baskets of flowers light up her window sill. We all knew the much-needed emotional lift wouldn’t last as she had a complication that meant she was never going to get better.
I can’t tell you how much time had passed until she started a steady decline. We suspect she had another stroke. My mother and aunt were constantly at her side and when my sister, cousin, brother, or I would visit we’d take her hand in ours. It would be warm from the previous child’s touch. She passed away in April.
Someone in Canada has a heart attack every 7 minutes. Strokes happen every 10 minutes. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in Canada and the cause of 1 in every 3 deaths.
This month, if you haven’t already, please take some time to look through the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s online resources. You can take a risk assessment test on the website or through the My Heart & Stroke Health mobile app. You can volunteer, donate, learn to smart tips for eating right, or perform a healthy action.
To promote Heart Month and all of the actions you can take, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is offering up a prize pack valued at $150. This includes a live or virtual nutrition counseling session with a HSF registered dietitian, a heart-healthy cookbook, pedometer, measuring spoons, water bottle, and reusable HSF bag. Here’s how you can enter to win:
- Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
- Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
I will draw one winner at 10:00am next Tuesday, February 14, 2012. Update The winner is DB!