Many of my friends have expressed their fear of getting old and especially when they turned 30.
We started calling it “The Milestone Birthday”. Unlike the other birthdays, the person is found sad and disheartened on her 30th birthday. But that isn’t me. I always loved celebrating my birthday. For me, birthdays are the realization that I am living. Hence, I was more excited than any of my friends about turning 30 because this would be my real milestone birthday.
As I blew 30 candles on the cake, holding my husband’s hand tight, I hardly knew what was store for me in the future. But I was extremely thankful for whatever I got in 30 years – Loving parents, caring husband and a beautiful little angel.
As I started opening the gifts, I realized that I was very excited about what my husband had got me. As I opened the gift, I was taken aback as it was a coupon for a full-body checkup. I was surprised as well as sad.
Why a health check-up as a gift?
Like most women in India, my health never appeared on my priority list. I keep track of everyone’s health but when it comes to my own, I find shortcuts. Whenever I have any health issues, I would search my symptoms on the internet and end up doing a home remedy to cure it. My husband and I have had multiple discussions about how careless I am about my health. But every time, I always managed to get away from the discussion.
So, this time he wanted to make sure that I go for a complete health checkup. I agreed, but then in the flow of life I again forgot.
Whenever there was a thought that something might go wrong with my health, there was a strong inner voice that would say – You are just 30. What can happen to you?
But then it happened…
It was 6th June 2017. As usual, my alarm started ringing at 6:00 am. As I raised myself from the bed to get Ankita ready for her school, I felt extreme pain in my chest and upper back. I was not able to breathe properly and sat down on the bed. I wondered what was wrong with me – probably it was food poisoning or acidity as I had Chinese food last night. Or, probably I slept in the wrong posture. I tried to fight with the pain but with time the condition worsened – nausea, sweating, pain in the jaw and arm.
Realizing something was wrong with me, I told my husband to take me to the hospital in the evening. But my husband was worried about me, so he took the day off and drove me to the hospital immediately.
As I was telling my symptoms to the physician, back of the mind I was assuming that it was just food poisoning. But, after listening to the symptoms, the doctor said it was not food poisoning but something which was way more dangerous. The doctor asked my husband to do the admission formalities.
I was clueless as to what was happening and kept asking my husband about it. He just said that nurses will come and take me for some medical tests and check-up. I asked him if there was something serious to which he smiled and said – “We are in a hospital. Even if there is something serious doctors will take care of it.”
After a few tests and a couple of hours, the doctor shared the conclusion that I had a mild heart attack. What?! I refused to agree and said the doctors must be wrong. How could a 30-year-old slim female be having a heart attack? But unfortunately, it was wrong.
The next couple of days in the hospital I was wondering how could this happen to me? Why me? I haven’t heard anyone having a heart attack at the age of 30. Am I the only one? For me, only the people who eat fatty foods and never exercise are the ones at the risk of a heart attack. I eat healthily, go for regular exercise, do not smoke or drink.
I kept asking these questions to myself, my husband and the doctors. Looking at my state, the doctor told me that heart attack in people of my age is becoming more and more common. And the biggest factor that causes it is “Stress”. But what stress did I have? I had a loving family and a decent lifestyle. The doctor told me to think about what all I go through during the normal course of a day.
That’s when I realized that like many Indian women, I am trying to fulfill the expectations of a lot of people. I am trying to be a perfect biwi, a perfect bahu, a perfect beti, a perfect mother and a perfect professional.
During those days in the hospital, there was a loud voice telling me – you may not live to see your little girl grow up. In my wildest dreams, I never thought of suffering from a heart attack at an age of 30. I didn’t even have a wrinkle yet! I had been physically active, but the truth was no matter how much I argue, I had a heart attack.
Over the next two days, the doctors explained exactly what had happened inside my body. I had a spasm in one of my arteries, a blood clot formed as a result, and the clot blocked one of my coronary arteries causing the heart attack.
Once I was back home, I was determined to make sure it didn’t happen to me again. I found various sources on the internet that talk about how women in their early age are at the risk of heart attack, but we ignore the early symptoms.
I also found out that heart disease is the number one killer of women, and how many women die because they ignored the symptoms or didn’t get the required treatment in time.
After the shock settled in, I picked myself up for my family, my husband, my daughter and more importantly for myself. I reminded myself that I wasn’t the first woman to have a heart attack and sadly I won’t be the last.
What I learned?
I learned that I could not just sit back and live in fear of my heart attack. And, I learned that you cannot control all aspects of your life —you never know when you’ll get thrown a curveball. I became a member for I for Her to tell my story to other women with only one hope – If I could prevent just one woman from this silent killer, then it’s a victory.
Heart attack doesn’t just impact you. It impacts your entire family. Hence, I promised myself that I would never ever take my health for granted. I want to see Ankita throwing her cap in the air on her graduation day. I want to see her climbing the ladders of her career. So, I started making some major lifestyle adjustments to avoid unnecessary stress, junk food and ensuring regular health checkups.
I started listening to my body more and stopped stressing about things I cannot control. Because, if I’m not around my boss will hire a new employee, but my daughter has only one mom.
A humble request to the reader –
Please listen to your body and go for regular health checkups. In case you don’t have a medical insurance, please find ways to enroll for one. In the process of taking care of your loved ones, please don’t ignore your own health, because you don’t have as much time as you think.
Don’t let the silent face of heart disease cheat you; Because this silent face can take away your life in a moment.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of I for Her. Authors are responsible for any omissions or errors. And, I for Her does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.