Friday, October 5, 2012

A Heart Full of Love

Well, life has certainly been interesting around here the past few months. The past few weeks in particular have been, um... a surprise. Yes, I think that's mainly what we've all felt around here. Less than a month ago, my mom went to her physician because she was just so tired all the time. While my mom is considered a Senior Citizen, she certainly isn't "elderly". Always busy, active in a variety of pursuits, interested and engaged in life and the people she meets, it came as a great shock to everyone when her appointments progressed from "a visit" to Stress Test to Heart Catheterization, winding up a couple of weeks ago with open heart surgery.

Cardiac issues do tend to run in my family but mainly it comes down the tree from my dad's side. Mom and I have had the discussion about what to do and how to proceed when my dad knocks over from a heart attack. I figure he'll be on the roof running antenna wires for his Ham radios when it happens. But I never had that talk with my dad about mom. It has seemed sort of surreal around here and even mom has said that she was surprised and even a bit cheesed because she has tried over the years to feed Dad good cardiac food. She really is a wonderful cook and very conscientious about what she feeds her family. No one ever guessed she would be the next one to have the next round of cardiac adventures. In fact, one of the surprises that came out of the medical detective work was that she has apparently had a heart attack at some point in the past.

"My Dishonest Heart" by Audrey Kawasaki
Print available here.

Even though October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I'm going to put in a plug, right here and now, for women's cardiac health. This just can't wait until February, the usual Women's Heart Health month: one of you lovely butterflies might need to now this now.

As many of you know, signs of heart attack in women can be very different than for men. Ladies-- LEARN THESE. Gentleman, LEARN THESE for your female loves and friends. Because no fooling around here: heart disease is the Number 1 killer of American women.

Women are more likely than men to have the "other" common signs of a heart attack. These include shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and pain in the back, neck, or jaw. Sometimes the signs of a heart attack happen suddenly. But they can also develop slowly, over hours, days, and even weeks before a heart attack occurs.
Graphic via Women's Health

A note about women's milder symptoms - About a third of women experience no chest pain at all when having a heart attack and 71% of women report flu-like symptoms for two weeks to a month prior to having more acute chest discomfort or severe shortness of breath. The discomfort is not necessarily centered around the heart. These milder symptoms are under-reported to emergency room staff.

Areas of pain or discomfort associated with heart attack.
Heart Currents

Feelings of anxiety or impending doom are also associated with heart attack.

Please check out the links below, even just one, even if you think you already know enough about women's heart disease. My family is acutely aware of heart disease but still, Mom nearly feel victim. I've had my own heart scares and it never hurts to remind ourselves of how import it is be vigilent about our health.



OK- now for some cool butterfly heart stuff, because you know I love to dive in and discover cool new things in life. That's the point of this blog, after all (see Expecting Butterflies). The question of the day is:

Do butterflies have hearts?

No. Yes... Sort of.

Butterflies do not have a closed circulatory system as in vertebrates (you and I with our vertebral spines). The heart of a butterfly is called a dorsal tube and runs the length of the butterflies body. It pumps hemolymphitic fluid from the back of the body to the front, bathing the internal organs. The heart(s), or area of pumping action, are not much more  than enlarged areas along the tube. Hemolymph is not blood (it is not red and does not carry oxygen) but carries nutrients and wastes.

Dorsal Tube shown in red.
Britannica Kids

Oxygen exchange takes place separately through the trachea which open directly from the body through spiracles on the abdomen. These spiracles are also present on the caterpillar. Seriously, how cool is that?

Well, talk about getting distracted....  I just think the world is an awesome place. Full of surprises and beauty. Sometimes those surprises take the form of unexpected open heart surgery, sometimes it's an incredibly beautiful butterfly. Sometimes it's the beautiful heart of a loved one---- take care of that heart.

1 comment:

  1. Whow... that's a lot to digest.
    I appreciate your openness, and when I'm done writing this comment I will be calling my Mum for a chat. She is over 50 and I would just like to remind her to keep an eye on her ticker. You know, just so I said it.
    Same with my most favourite colleague, Barbara. Saying it won't hurt... and I can sweeten it with what I have now learned about butterflies!