A year ago yesterday I posted the following on Facebook:
Asking for thoughts and prayers for my brother John Anderson, recovering from a very serious heart attack … yesterday morning he had the heart attack while at the gym, and fortunately they have a nurse on staff and the person next to him was a doctor. but it was a massive heart attack. He woke up briefly tonight, which was a very good sign, but he has a long road ahead.
The picture at the top is from this past Christmas – so you can be assured there was a happy ending! But when I wrote that, my brother had suffered a major heart attack, and had yet to really regain consciousness. It was slow going, and even now he has to deal with a new reality in how he goes about his life – but he is here, with his kids, friends and family.
It took a while for him to understand and accept how serious things were, even though he’d already had one heart attack (a minor one in 2006) and even as they implanted a defibrillator in his chest!
At that point I decided it was really time to get a full cardiac workup – not just because of my brother, but because I was the only one left in my immediate family who hadn’t had serious heart issues. My dad had a very serious heart attack at 45, and now with my brother having two at 43 and 49 – it was time for me at 47 to get myself checked.
The wonderful thing is that although there is that great saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ – that isn’t how our health care system works. Think about it – between co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance and so on, the up-front costs are enough to keep healthy people from ever getting routine checkups. Then there is the ability to get anything beyond a routine checkup … fortunately I have a good relationship with my primary doctor, and she made sure I was able to get into a cardiologist in the same practice.
I wrote about this before, but basically where my brother got all the bad genes – cholesterol, blood pressure, etc – I got all the good ones. And aside from my thyroid my heart and cardio-vascular system is in great shape.
My message? Take care of your health – make figuring out your risks a priority, even when it is more money than you want to spend. Especially when you are younger – during your 20s and 30s you might still feel indestructible, but these are the years where a history can build. Learn your numbers, where your body is strong and weak, what you need to watch and what you don’t and so on. You don’t want to be feeling lousy when you need to know what is ‘normal’ for you and have no idea.
Take care of your health – eat reasonably well, stay active, keep to a healthy weight (and more and more research says weighing a bit too much is better than weighing to little), and keep a regular set of checkups. And know your family history of risks and make sure your doctor is aware of them. Do everything you can to make sure you are around for as long as possible with the ones you love.