Heart Attacks in Women

What we need to know about Heart Attacks in Women

  1. Heart attacks are the number one killer of women (as well as men)
  2. Heart attack symptoms can be more subtle in women
  3. Women are not men, there are physical reasons such as pregnancy and menopause that account for some variable symptoms in women
  4. Heart attacks are often not promptly diagnosed/treated in women
  5. Women are more likely to experience “silent” heart attacks

Risks

  • Diabetes (more common in women than men)
  • Mental Stress and Depression
  • Smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Menopause (due to estrogen changes)
  • Some chemotherapy such as those used to treat breast cancer
  • Pregnancy complications

Symptoms – onset often at rest or during stress

  • Odd feeling in the chest or minor chest discomfort rather than severe pain
    • Often described as pressure or tightness
    • Palpitations
  • Neck, jaw, upper back or shoulder discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or odd sensation in arm(s)
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue

Women should not ignore these symptoms and should work to reduce those risk factors in their control. 

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Sources: mayoclinic.com, prevention.com, womenshealth.gov, healthline.com

Graphic by Pixabay

The “C” Word

Doug Weaver is my longtime friend who is a professor of Baptist studies in the department of religion at Baylor University. He is the current president of the Baptist History and Heritage Society and past-president of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.

In spite of the fact that I am a recovering Southern Baptist, I highly respect Doug’s opinion. Also, please note that “Southern” is nowhere listed in his credentials even though he is a Virginian.

D-Weaver-2019

It is Well

By Doug Weaver 

It is well with my soul. Is that an elusive ideal, a hauntingly compelling confession of hope, or both?

In 1983, my father died of colon cancer. In 1984, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer but thankfully survived it and was later declared cured. My older brother’s doctor once told him, “It is not if you and your younger brother get colon cancer, but when.” After more purifying colonoscopies than I can count, the cancer never came. But, I never really fasted from the fear of the possibility.

Fast forward. In 2006, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I was told that it was a good cancer to get – the cancer was just in the lining and was not invasive. My hearing is pretty bad and I see with trifocals, but trust me, I can feel with the best of them. The cancer and the side effects of my treatments constantly bent me over with knife-like pain. Depends were not dependable; no wonder I started wearing black pants to work. The doctor in Waco where I live thought the medications which turned my flow into Texas burnt orange would lessen the pain, but I told him I was burning horrifically and unless he had magical Baylor green and gold, it was not going to help. And it didn’t. The treatments, however, worked.

In 2009, the bladder cancer came back – same situation – in the lining, not invasive, burning like a Gehenna fire. I was again on the extreme end of the spectrum with bodily reactions to the condition and the medication. However, what scared me was the doctor’s suggestion that cancer cells might be in a kidney too. I visited a specialist in Dallas who said it was so rare for bladder cancer to go into the kidney that it must be a tainted test. So do not fear.

The treatments worked again, but one more time, in 2013, the C word returned. This time cancer cells were in the lining of the bladder and both kidneys. So much for fasting from fear. Even though I had been his patient for seven years, I left the Waco doctor for good since he had said if the cancer ever got to the kidneys he’d have to try voodoo medicine to treat it. To confront the fear, I headed to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. They put two nephrostomy tubes in my back (an amazing procedure), administered the medicine, and the treatments worked. The tubes dangled, hidden under my shirt for months, but at least voodoo stayed in Waco.

I made the 185-mile trip to MD Anderson in Houston every three months from spring 2013 to fall 2016 with good checkups, but once again I received word that the cancer cells had returned to the lining of both kidneys, now my fourth time. I did the standard treatments and kept the tubes in for a few months as we awaited results. I threatened a few colleagues with a “lift-the-shirt” presentation on a couple of occasions but other than being a Baptist who couldn’t be immersed in water, I did fine. But, I wasn’t fasting from an increasing fear.

I have now reached the one-year anniversary of surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. (The good news was that one kidney and the bladder didn’t reveal cancer cells anymore.) After the surgery, my wife and I heard the line many people living with cancer hear: “You had some microscopic cancer in lymph nodes, so we need to do some chemotherapy.” So, we did.

Today, I am fine – good, actually. My hair returned, curly (and unruly) like it was when I was a teenager. Subsequent scans (yes, cancer survivors often date the calendar by their regular three-month checkups) have been good. I am feeling hopeful.

Yet, during this journey, I haven’t been one of those patients who has “conquered” fear. On rare occasions, I was able to confront the repeated news of cancer returning with a bit of confidence. Most of the time, I was forced to my knees by the demon of cancer and begged God for a miracle my dad never received. Sometimes I have been near despair.

I knew my situation wasn’t as bad as patients I saw walking alongside me in the halls of MD Anderson; yet to compare cancer cases is not fair to anybody. Along the way, I have told friends too many details. My wife has had to hear me ask questions that I either already know the answer to or know that there are no answers. I love the church, but it isn’t always the best place to fast from fear (although, in my case at our church in Waco I am gifted with the wonderful pastoral presence of Mary Alice Birdwhistell). Baptists have a few saints.

One of my favorite Holy Week phrases is from Tony Campolo’s powerful old sermon: “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” I need to repeat that. “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” When you are sick, sometimes it is Friday. In fact, it can be months or years of mostly Fridays. It is hard and physically, emotionally and spiritually taxing. The Easter we just celebrated tells us that Sunday is now here, and that means hope amid fear. I think that is what the earliest disciples experienced.

Ah, that word “experience.” The longer I study Baptist history, the more I am confronted by that compelling word. We interpret our faith through our experience. Heretical? Ha, call me Harry Emerson Fosdick who once said that if dispensationalism is orthodoxy, then call me a heretic. The role of experience is at the core of Baptist DNA: voluntary faith, dissenting conscience as an act of faith, believer’s church and so on.

I’ve been researching in recent years the role of the Holy Spirit in Baptist identity (shameless plug: stay tuned for the book this fall). The desire for an ever increasing awareness of the Spirit – an experience of the power of the Spirit – is not absent in Baptist life. As we approach the observance of Pentecost in a few weeks, I understand standing on that promise of presence.

Fear needs the experience of hope.

I am a cancer survivor. This is the first time I have used those words in a public forum. I am still hesitant to call myself that because of others whose lives have been hit so much harder. Friday’s coming, Sunday’s here, and Pentecost promises glory. I am healthy(!), but I still can’t say hope without fear, and I refuse to say fear without hope.

It is well with my soul. I love the hymn that bears that title. It is an elusive ideal and a hauntingly compelling confession of hope.

From BaptistNews.com

Stroke II

Stroke

Stroke, also known as a cerebral vascular accident (CVA), is the fifth leading case of death and a major cause of disability. 

Kinds 

There are two types of stroke, hemorrhagic and ischemic. Hemorrhagic is caused by bleeding (a blood vessel rupture) within the brain. The more common, ischemic, makes up 87% of all strokes and is caused by a blockage to blood flow to or within the brain.

Prevalence

Stroke happens to one in twenty people averaging one every 40 seconds. 

Risks

The major causes of stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and diabetes. Strokes are nearly twice as high in blacks as in whites.

Treatment

Treatment of ischemic strokes is with the use of “clot-busting” drugs which must be administered within 3 hours to be effective. The “T” in FAST should also be a reminder to note the time of symptom onset. This can be vital information for doctors. In some cases, a clot must be removed surgically.

Hemorrhagic strokes are treated by stopping the source of bleeding.

Rehabilitation is often necessary to treat residual disability from stroke.

Symptoms

Is the Face drooping?

Is there Arm weakness?

Is there difficulty with Speech?

If yes, to any of these questions it is Time to call 911

F A S T 

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Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Stroke Association.

 

Graphic by Pixabay

Stroke

Signs of Stroke

F A S T

The word to remember when concerned about a stroke is FAST because time is crucial in reaching and instituting care. FAST will also help you to look for the signs of stroke.

Is the Face drooping?

Is there Arm weakness?

Is there difficulty with Speech?

If yes, to any of these questions it is Time to call 911

In the next post, we will look at stroke in a little more detail, but the most important take away here is to remember this mnemonic when questioning whether you or someone else is having a stroke.

Memorize it. Test yourself. Spread the word to others.

F A S T

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Graphic by Pixabay

Earth Day

earth

with bare hands 
i sink my fingers into the earth
and lift it from the ground

i need to feel it…

damp and crumbly
as it sucks the moisture
from my skin

i want to smell it…

thick and organic
as its rich aroma
streams into my nostrils 

i touch it to my tongue…

coarse and gritty
as the taste of minerals
washes over my taste buds

i need to see the earth
with my eyes closed 
and know through my other senses
that what i am holding in my hands
is something precious

earth
ancient and elemental
the mother of us all
reminds me
of our close kinship

for in essence
I am nothing more 
than a carbon creature

nothing more 
than the ashes and earth
from which we all rose

and in death
will be

nothing less
than the ashes and earth
to which we all return
written by: Sylvia L. Mattingly
April 8, 2019

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Venezuela

In 2000 my husband and I took a cruise to Central and South America. We visited Belize, Costa Rico, Panama, Columbia, and Venezuela. Each country was very unique and interesting but Venezuela stands out in my mind.

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I will never forget the first glimpse of the city of Caracas as the ship pulled into port. The houses were stacked on top of each other as in the photo above. All the bright colors of paint were pretty, but there were also houses with no paint at all. Some looked like cardboard and others like scrap pieces of tin made into simple boxes. The poverty was obvious and most of the houses with dirt paths between them looked as though they could topple off the hillside at any moment.

We were walking around Caracas taking in the sights when we found ourselves in a crowd of people near a government building of some kind. Suddenly there was shouting and the sound of gunfire into the air. A large group of men marched through a spontaneous opening in the crowd and we quickly went the other way and re-boarded our ship.  We heard little about the insurrection as it seems that it was not an unusual event in Venezuela. We did learn however that one of our fellow passengers had a heart attack and died on the scene during that uprising.

That frightening day has been on my mind as I watch today’s news of the division and civil unrest that continues in that country. Nicolas Maduro has been the President since 2013, but today he is challenged by another politician who claims to be the interim President. The US, Canada and most of Europe support Juan Guaido, Maduro’s opposition while Russia, China, Syria, Cuba, and Iran support Maduro. Meanwhile, the citizens suffer from lack of food and basic necessities even though adequate supplies have been provided by the US and other countries. The government/military will not allow people to be fed or provided medical care. This situation is beyond my comprehension, but once again those of us who have enough food, shelter, and healthcare need to recognize how fortunate we are. Further, it should be clear why there are refugees from such places. 

“Let’s dig deep to build the kind of police force that our fatherland really deserves. We need a revolution of the police force here in Venezuela, and I will carry it out without delay, without excuses.” Nicolas Maduro

Photos by Pixabay

Spring

Today I look at the flowering trees and think of you.

When we enjoyed them last spring we had no reason to think it would be our last dogwood season together. 

Now you lie in the cold ground with woods of redbud all around, but cannot see, or smell, or move to raise your eyes skyward. 

But, then I see an unexpected crane, a cardinal or a deer and I wonder if that is so. 

Sue Baugh Mattingly – April 15, 2015

 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Today at the Park

During this time of year, the woodlands change almost by the day. As more trees give birth to leaves the view changes. Some things so obvious during the winter months are now obscure. Spring brings the same beauty each year yet it is forever new. Today there were wildflowers not seen just a couple of days ago. These are phlox and I believe mustard. 

The redbud trees dotted the hillsides and gave a party look to the usually monochromic woods. 

Daffodils I noticed today made me think of a family who had probably lived on this site many years ago. It is not unusual to spot blooming bulbs decades after their owners are gone. 

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“Love is a springtime plant that perfumes everything with its hope, even the ruins to which it clings.” Gustave Flaubert

The Parklands

Yesterday, I was on duty as a docent volunteer at the Parklands’ Visitor Center. It was a beautiful day in the 70s with lots of sunshine. That made it a great day for the school children who were spending time at Beckley Park. Two schools brought their students and it was fun seeing them exploring and playing. 

The Parklands provide not only playgrounds but miles of trails, acres, and acres of wild natural habitat to explore and a visitor center with many learning experiences. “Wednesday Wonders” class for preschoolers was taking place and the little ones were excited about each new experience. Enjoy the slideshow below that shows more random shots of the park and kids having fun!

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Lastly, meet a newcomer, Ranger Randy. This turtle was born and raised in captivity for many years. It was donated to the park for children to enjoy and learn from. The Parklands does not remove creatures from their natural habitat. 

“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” Rumi

 

https://www.theparklands.org

Another Poem by Sylvia

one feather less

like a footprint left in the sand
i hold your feather in my hand . . .
an image begins to form in my mind
from this solitary feather you’ve left behind

i close my eyes

i imagine you soaring on currents of air
and if dreams could live, i’d join you there . . .
we’d sail in the wind, float on the breeze
view the world from the tops of the trees

i’d be one with your spirit, your strength and your sight
feeling your purpose, your wisdom, you might . . .
i’d revel in the glory of owning the sky . . .
on the wings of a hawk i’d ride the wind . . . i would fly

i open my eyes

like a footprint left in the sand
i hold your feather in my hand . . .
i feel the essence of your spirit like never before . . .
you with one feather less . . .
me with one feather more

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“one feather less” by Sylvia Mattingly
Inspired by a feather that was shed and left behind by a hawk that nested in a giant oak tree just behind my house.
Revised: April 2, 2019
Written: November 15, 2011

 

Photos by Pixabay

New Harmony 2

img_2900Retreat 

In May 2016 I felt the need to “get away” to somewhere peaceful and tranquil and I found that place in New Harmony, IN. It wasn’t so much getting away from anything, because my home with two lazy cats is pretty quiet and happy. It was more going TO someplace different. 

The quaint little town of New Harmony is about 140 miles from where I live in Louisville, KY. See short history and slide show of photos here:  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/04/05/new-harmony/

Attractions

img_2894“Attractions” may not be a good word for all the beautiful things to see and do in New Harmony because it might conjure up thoughts of crowded venues. It was actually the quiet that I first noticed. There was little traffic and most people got around on silent golf carts. I rented one and toured about leisurely from one point of interest to the next. These sites included the Roofless Church, Barn Abbey, Artists’ Guild, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Working Men’s Institute Museum, the Atheneum, and more. There was plenty to see on foot as well, walking among the historic businesses and residences. Gardens and trees surrounded everything and even covered the spaces between the sidewalks and streets. 

Meditation

Adding to the serenity of New Harmony were quiet gardens, a labyrinth, a maze and sculptures by various artists. Nature always nourishes my soul, but I found these prepared spaces enriching as well. 

 

Lodging and Food

At the time I visited there were several Bed & Breakfasts in operation. I stayed at the New Harmony Resort Inn and Conference Center which was clean and quiet. There were several dining establishments to choose from. I enjoyed eating at the Red Geranium which had a breakfast buffet.   

Nature

For me, the best part of my stay was the time I spent on hiking trails. They were scattered throughout the area, some wooded and remote, others by the Wabash River or the lake on the Conference Center grounds. 

 

New Harmony, IN

I recommend it for anyone who likes quiet, loves nature and wants to briefly experience a different way of life.    

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“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.                                                   It will never fail you.”  Frank Lloyd Wright

Back at the Park

Pope Lick Park

It’s so good to be walking in the park after what seems like a long winter. With each walk, I notice the subtle springtime changes. Buds turn to leaves or flowers, birds are chirping happily, and the peepers are peeping loudly. Below are some of the wildflowers, blooming bulbs and weeds that I saw today. Each is beautiful. 

Choosing a Path

Each time I drive the three miles to Pope Lick I realize how fortunate I am to live so close to the park. Every neighborhood should have such a place where young families, runners, bikers, and seniors can explore. 

My biggest decision each trip is which path to take, just like in life itself. 

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” Rosalia de Castro

New Harmony

The Harmonists

During the mid-eighteenth century, there was a place in Delaware known as Murdering Town. The folks who lived there were from Germany and believed strongly in the separation of church and state. They developed into a pacifist society migrating to Pennsylvania where they built the town of Harmony, which sounds like a far cry from Murdering Town. These folks couldn’t seem to stick in one place for long and in the early nineteenth century, they moved their Harmony Society again, this time to the state of Indiana.

New Harmony

In Indiana, these peace-loving people gave all their worldly possessions to the Society which in turn provided for all their needs. They developed an existence dedicated to harmony and for a few years all was good, but then they made a fatal mistake. They adopted celibacy as a way of life, and “the rest is history,” as the saying goes. Eventually, the founders became extinct and the town was re-established by Mennonites who gradually faded away and closed their church there.

Today New Harmony is a wonderful place to visit and certainly appears to be an idyllic place to live. The old town once plagued by calamities such as fire and tornadoes has been restored. While full of interesting places to visit, eat and be entertained, it remains a quiet and peaceful village. 

 

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The homes are restored and surrounded by beautiful gardens. The public spaces are verdant in every direction. To visit there is to experience going back to a time of true harmony and tranquility. 

Nearby is a 3,500 State Park, known as Harmonie. It offers hiking, horse and bike trails, campsites, fishing, and rental cabins. The park also has Interpretive Naturalist Service in the summer months as well as picnic areas and swimming in an Olympic sized pool and the Wabash River. 

 

In the next post, I’ll tell you a bit about my personal retreat in New Harmony a couple of years ago. 

 

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”  Thomas Merton

People Are Good

A few years ago I started taking used clothing to a homeless shelter in Indiana. It wasn’t a big deal, just sharing some things that no longer fit. I mentioned this in passing to a couple of neighbors and friends and was surprised when several offered some things for me to take on my next trip. One woman even provided beautiful new hand-knitted caps for adults as well as clothing and blankets for babies.  These good people continued to donate and started my more frequent runs to the shelter, sometimes with the back of my SUV packed to capacity. 

I am sharing this with you today because I believe we need to be reminded that people are good. With so much bad news bombarding us each day, it helps me to think of these kind people who are helping others. It may seem like a small thing, but to the men, women, and children who are living in this shelter having nice clean clothes to put on each day is not to be taken for granted. 

Haven House

I went to the shelter, Haven House, a few days ago and there were many people who were staying there because they had no other place to live. While living there residents are expected to share in chores such as cooking and cleaning. They are assisted with job applications and finding permanent housing.

As usual, the shelter was way over capacity the day I visited. The best example of what the people there are like is this man:

In the dining room which doubles as a day room, there were four rigid plastic chairs pushed together to make a bed. On the chairs lay a man who had no bed due to the overcrowding. He was covered head to knees in a sheet and his feet with his shoes on stuck out the bottom. The room was noisy and I asked the volunteer who was with me how he could sleep like this. She said it was his only choice if he was going to be able to go to work on the night shift. 

Too often we take things like our beds, clothing, and meals for granted. https://crookedcreek.live/2018/12/05/home/  There are those who are struggling daily for these necessities. The good news is that there are volunteers working, people giving and men and women working when given the opportunity. Working to make their lives better. 

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“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

 

NOTE: These are my observations and opinions. I do not represent nor speak for Haven House. 

 

April Fools Day

Also known as “All Fool’s Day” April Fool’s Day is corny and can be irritating I suppose but I’ve always loved it due to memories of my maternal grandfather, Pappy. https://crookedcreek.live/2016/12/11/gee-ky/

The origin of this day for pranks and hoaxes is not entirely clear but it has been around for a very long time. According to some sources it has been fun in Britain since the 18th Century.

Even some newspapers and other media get involved in the action. My favorite story is about a BBC show in 1957 that said, “The Swiss had a very good crop of spaghetti this year” and then showed photos of people harvesting spaghetti from trees. Some gullible people fell for it!

I always try to fool people on this day in honor of Pappy who loved to fool me each April 1st. I remember our tricks on one another which are too banal to describe here but I hope you have fun today whether you are the jokester or the recipient of a practical joke. 

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“When I was about ten years old, I gave my teacher an April Fool’s sandwich, which had a dead goldfish in it.” Alan Alda

 

Graphics by Pixabay