Andrea's column: This is seriousAs I wrote a column about heart health two weeks ago, I had no idea my husband’s mother was being rushed to a Wisconsin hospital by paramedics.
By: Andrea Langworthy, Rosemount Town Pages
As I wrote a column about heart health two weeks ago, I had no idea my husband’s mother was being rushed to a Wisconsin hospital by paramedics. The manager of her apartment building called 9-1-1 after she greeted my mother-in-law in the hallway and noticed she was disoriented.
We were notified about her condition later that day. Doctors thought she had suffered a stroke but said they would continue running tests as she has a heart condition. We’re still not sure what happened but we do know she is one lucky woman.
Why? Because she ignored symptoms the night before that could have indicated a heart attack or stroke. They came and then went away so she thought everything was all right and went to bed for the night.
In that previous column, I wrote about my mother’s sudden heart attack over 13 years ago. Mom passed away so quickly, none of us kids got to say good-bye. My father, on the other hand, had a stroke that greatly affected the quality of his life. With Dad, “good-bye” was on the tip of our tongues for nearly two years.
Long before the stroke, my father was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that attacked his muscles and weakened him physically. When travel became difficult, he rented his Florida condo to a retired couple in the winter. The night Dad had his stroke, the woman called to say the carpet was showing wear and tear. She demanded it be replaced.
They had been the only people to stay in the unit for years, Dad argued. They hadn’t complained about the carpet at the beginning of their association so it was their wear-and-tear and they were welcome to replace the flooring on their dime.
The argument escalated and when it ended, my father slammed down the receiver. Not long after, he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
My mother-in-law, who is almost 90, hasn’t yelled at anyone but she’s been stressed out since learning her apartment building will undergo construction for six months. There will be four months of ear-splitting work on the other two floors. When it’s time for her floor, she and her neighbors will move to rooms at a nearby motel. Anything they don’t need has to be packed in boxes beforehand so it can go to a storage facility.
I’ve tried to tell her not to sweat the small stuff. And add self-help author Richard Carlson’s adage that “it is all small stuff” but who am I kidding? I have spent months agonizing about having a small amount of carpentry work done because I don’t want to put up with the noise and dust.
One thing I won’t agonize about is calling 9-1-1 if I experience chest pains, tingling in one arm, or shortness of breath. Should my husband or anyone else notice I am having trouble speaking, am disoriented, or more off-balance than usual, I hope they will do the same.
It might be embarrassing if my symptoms turn out to be nothing. But they could be real. A false alarm in an ambulance beats a ride in a hearse any day of the week, don’t you think?