April 17, 2007

Heart & Soul

When I was a teenager, my favourite uncle had a heart attack. It was a shocking jolt of reality intruding on my self-centred little life, and it was one of the first times I stopped taking for granted that people I loved would always be there.

He survived. But forever after that, I imagined his heart was made of glass. And of course, as is always the way, everywhere I looked after that featured someone having heart troubles. It's like buying a car, then seeing that same car all over the place. You don't notice things until they become personal.

Here's a lovely piece from one of my favourite editors at the Spec, Brent Lawson. He's been a significant part of getting my career boosted, and he's still a touchstone for advice. He told me he'd written a piece about heart attacks. I asked how he knew about heart attacks. He said because he'd had one.

Now, I didn't know this. The Event pre-dated our friendship, and in my usual bluster of me-me-me, he'd never mentioned it. Reading his first person account, which he twists up with his usual humour, I was struck by just how much we take for granted. My buddy Larry is recovering from his heart attack a few months back. Larry, who has always been bigger than life and louder than a foghorn.

Pay attention to the warning signs; get a physical every year, and remember, just like a car, maintenance is smarter than repair. And regardless of your age, don't forget the people that continue to need you.

Warning Signs:
Sudden pain or discomfort in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back. It may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure and in women, the pain may be more vague.
Difficulty when breathing or shortness of breath.
Nausea, indigestion or vomiting.
Sweaty, cool, or clammy skin.
Fear, anxiety or denial.

For more info, go to the Heart & Stroke website.


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