Today would have been my mom's 63rd birthday. On April 8, 2011 she died of a blood clot following quintuple bypass and heart valve repair surgery. I was going to write a well researched piece about the fact that heart disease is the NUMBER ONE KILLER of women in the U.S. and go into all the signs and symptoms, like unexplained fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold sweats, indigestion/ nausea/upper abdominal pain, and pain in the throat, jaw or arm (especially the left), but my kids needed me tonight. My six year old, Lia, fell on a play structure this afternoon and her shin was hurting so I had to put a warm towel on it. My son's hamster died yesterday and as Ian went to bed tonight, I tried to discreetly remove the cage from his room so he wouldn't see the empty cage and get upset all over again. Turns out removing the cage was what upset him and led to a (very short) crying spell. So, I sat in the room with him, hugged him, told him it was normal to want to keep your loved one's things just as they were and not change anything and we talked about grieving. Bekah sat around and talked about her day, derby practice, something funny someone posted on Tumblr, and other things for a few minutes before hugging us and going to bed.
I was going to list all the normal values for total cholesterol (less than 200), and the various components of total cholesterol such as LDL, the "bad" cholesterol (less than 130) and HDL, the 'good" cholesterol (38-94) and triglycerides (35-135). And then I was going to explain them (look it up). I was going to cite lots of research but when I typed "Women and Heart Disease" in my search engine, I was overwhelmed with all the information. So I'm urging you to educate yourself. Learn what high blood pressure is (anything greater than 120/80) and the connection between high blood pressure and heart disease. While you're at it learn about normal blood sugar levels (70-110) and how abnormal levels can affect your heart. There's also a menopause connection. Researchers have noticed that women are more susceptible to something called Microvascular disease or MVD that affects the small blood vessels of the heart and is not detected by the usual studies that focus on larger arteries. So your heart goes for a long time without receiving the oxygen and blood it needs before you ever realize you have a problem and you've already sustained damage to the heart muscle. This seems to be triggered by the drop in estrogen after menopause
But, I'm not going as in depth into these matters because I was busy with my kids. I was getting irritated because they just didn't understand that I was missing my mom. Then it occurred to me that I was being selfish and that they needed their mama, too. I started thinking about my mom and the good, the bad and the ugly. My mom wasn't perfect and she made some mistakes along the way but most of her parenting was motivated by her love for me and a desire for me to turn out to be a decent human being. She always loved me and believed in me and as I'm writing this, I'm tearing up thinking about the times in high school, when anxiety would get the better of me and she would stay up until early in the morning listening to me and encouraging me and, above all, to never, ever give up. For my mom, life was to be explored and lived as an adventure. She liked to talk about people grabbing life "by the horns". I didn't realize how much I still depended on her until, suddenly, I couldn't call her to ask her opinion on something or tell her about something funny or great the kids had done. And I realized I want to be a mom like my mom was. I want to be a mom that my adult kids WANT to have around. And I want to be the mom that they really miss when I'm gone because I made their lives so great.
So, I guess I would summarize these somewhat disconnected thoughts with this advice: if your mom is still around, love her and appreciate her. If she wasn't such a great mom or your relationship hasn't been so great, love her anyway. Try to focus on just one good, happy, positive thing you share. Or just call her and tell her you love her and you appreciate her efforts. You'll both be glad you did. And then, if you have kids, be the best parent you can. Even if your kids are grown and you have a weird relationship, just tell them you love them. You don't have to see eye to eye on everything. Put in the effort and FIND something you can agree on and go from there. If your kids are young, start making memories now. Your kids will appreciate the attention. And lastly, do what you can to be there with them for a long, long time.
And, so I don't get in trouble, here are a few websites you might want to check out:http://symptoms-of-heart-attack-in-women.com/, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease/HB00040, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartDiseaseNews/top-symptoms-heart-disease-women/story?id=14009993#.TzTWBsU7WAh.