When a heart-health scare rocked her world, the creator of RedLily® found herself wondering about all aspects of her life. But, one thing she knew for sure was that her priorities had to be re-evaluated, pronto! This personal reflection focuses on the importance of listening to your body—and why everyone is at risk. As all women should be aware… the body doesn’t lie. In fact, a heart attack probably saved her life. Read more.
Note: In this 3-part mini-series, our founder shares some insight on why her story ultimately became the building blocks she needed to start a new women’s movement.
“Why The Body Doesn’t Lie”
For most people, February is all about candy hearts and Valentine’s Day, but for me it has another sentimental meaning.
My “heart story” is important for all women.
I have worked as a woman’s health advocate my entire career—most notably as the editor-in-chief of Oxygen Women’s Fitness magazine and founding editor of American Health & Fitness.
Which means—I should have known better. But, I thought I did.
After all, I don’t smoke (never have). Eat fairly well. Go to the gym. And, I’m not overweight. I also have no previous history of health issues.
The list goes on and on.
And yet, at 39 years old, I had a heart attack.
It all started on Christmas morning in 2012. My family was all eating breakfast together and I experienced a tightness across my chest that I had never felt before. It took my breath away. This claustrophobic-like feeling lasted for two weeks.
It was such a foreign feeling to me, but I was a busy mom with two young boys with a very demanding job—so I just shrugged it off as normal holiday stress.
After our family returned from a trip to Florida a few weeks later, I started having heavy heart-racing episodes three to four times a week. They would start and stop suddenly for no apparent reason; and it felt like I was running a marathon even at rest.
I was also having more headaches than usual, aches and pains in my upper body, shortness of breath going up and down the stairs, and was tired all the time. This was not like me.
Note: For the different signs and symptoms between men and women, check out My Heart, My Self – A Heartfelt Guide for Women Who Do Too Much.
How it happened
One morning at work, I had a panic attack standing in line at the cafeteria. The next night, as I was putting the kids to bed, I had the most excruciating pain in my right shoulder that shot all the way down my arm. It felt as though someone had hit me really hard with a baseball bat. It stopped me in my tracks. The pain then migrated around my back.
My arm started to go limp.
I’ve since learned that women can experience different heart attack symptoms than men; such as pain in their right arm or shoulder, a feeling of indigestion, lower back aches, jaw pain, exhaustion etc. I had no control over my body.
The problem was that I didn’t listen to my body a month earlier.
And, yes! I should have known that the tightness in my chest was not right.
I should have gone to my doctor then, but I thought (like so many other women in my shoes) that I was a healthy person and there’s absolutely no way I could have a heart attack at such a young age.
My second mistake was not going to the hospital that dreadful night.
I was in denial and am sincerely lucky that I was able to make it through on my own and get to my doctor and then cardiologist soon after.
The way I haphazardly reacted to my body literally “showing me the signs” is quite typical of busy moms, and in fact, women in general.
We seldom put ourselves first or make our health a priority.
After all, my kids had to go to bed, right?! And who wants to go to the hospital on Christmas? (Picture discerning eyebrow raise here…)
With this being said, I sincerely hope this brief message resonates with you in some way—or perhaps you can share with someone you know who is overdoing it and not stopping to evaluate their daily stressors.
I encourage you to always listen to your body and seek medical help if necessary. While I am no doctor, I know this may have made a big difference in my life.
*To learn what happened next with my heart surgery, stay tuned for Part 2 Coming Soon!
About the Author:
Kerrie Lee Brown is a heart-health advocate, business coach, speaker, mom of two, and creator of RedLily®. To read her full heart story (including “10 Signs You Need to Slow Down”) check out her author profile and book on Amazon.
Also, find out why she created this platform for women just like you! There’s a method to her madness in helping women heal in all areas of their lives.