Hand holding red pastel drawing a heart on paper.

I want to share personally today. In my book, The Every Woman's Guide to Equality, I write about women's health and how we need to love ourselves more and care for ourselves more.

And be proactive.

I also write about my heart disease.

I was diagnosed over 15 years ago in my early forties. My Family has generational heart disease, both of my parents and both of their parents had heart disease. I take fairly good care of myself, but in the last year I gained 15 pounds. The stress of writing the book and battling insecurity every step of the way, helped me eat lots of delicious but weight gaining food.

This is called not loving yourself. (and I am working every day to change that).

Thursday at 2 am I awakened with pain in my chest, jaw, and numbness in my arm. Sweaty and jittery, I took my blood pressure and it was high - 5 times I took it and it was high. So I decided to go to the Emergency Room. But I really don't like the hospital nearest to me. Quality of care? In my experience and opinion, not so much. And I felt foolish - like I was overreacting about my health, and it was just indigestion or a pulled muscle. Instead I took a shower and decided to wait 4 hours until our Urgent Care opened. I was the first person there and they took an EKG, which was normal and which had no change from one in 2015... and they wanted to transport me to the hospital. Since the EKG was normal, I said no. I didn't want to go to the hospital and be there for hours.

So I went grocery shopping.

And then the pain in my chest increased. So I drove myself to the Emergency Room and they immediately hooked me up to lots of monitors and started running tests and they all came back negative for having had a heart incident. But there was no information on whether I am a candidate for a heart attack soon coming. I will have an exercise stress test in the next few days.

Meanwhile, jaw pain, arm, back, and side pain, not sharp, but nagging persists.

Why am I sharing?

How many opportunities did I give myself to die yesterday?

My embarrassment, my stubbornness, my wanting to take a shower first (which had a male nurse

comment at the Urgent Care - "You look pretty good for someone with chest pain."

My denial, my minimizing, my ignoring? My fear of looking stupid or overreacting? My driving myself?

From the American Heart Association:

"Heart disease is the number one killer of women, killing 1 in 4 women. Many women who die of heart attack never had symptoms before. Twenty-six (26) percent of women die within a year of having their first heart attack, and 40 percent of the people who die suddenly from a heart attack or heart-related event are women. For young women, heart attack is more deadly and destructive."

The Struggle is Real.

We are super women, but we must be super smart about ourselves and our health, weight, and exercise. Every time we want to eat - let's ask ourselves:

  • How is this loving me?
  • Will this help me or be unhelpful?

When we feel ill, do we question if it's real? After all - women have heard the word overreaction so many, many times. Even our friends are not as understanding or compassionate as we want them to be, sometimes. And if you suffer from a chronic illness, every day is a struggle and sometimes a lonely one.

Together, let's love ourselves, care for ourselves, be me-centric in taking care of ourselves.

And I am speaking to myself.

This isn't a game - it is our life or our death. And wouldn't it be a shame if we miss out on all that wonderful LIFE that life has to offer us due to pride or misgiving?

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About The Author

Carlynne McDonnell's picture

Author, lecturer and Huffington Post columnist Carlynne McDonnell has been a passionate and outspoken proponent of social justice and equality for over twenty five years.  She has worked in fields considered non-traditional for women and has personally seen and been on the receiving end of inappropriate and unequal/inequitable behavior.

She has contributed to MariaShriver.com, The Grindstone, E-Harmony.com and has been interviewed on NPR, morning talk and College and University radio.

Carlynne has presented workshops nationally on women’s equality and effective communication, leadership development, mentoring, and self-value all designed to educate and empower women to seek the best for themselves and others.

She has served on Equal Pay panels, presented at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women meeting, the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders, the National Collegiate Leadership Conference women’s organizations, multiple colleges and universities, and for the US Marine Corp.

Carlynne has a Master’s in Public Policy and has been working in the corporate, education and non-profit worlds for over 30 years.

Working on the docks in Galveston and then at an East Coast Railroad, Carlynne was the recipient of and witness to discrimination and sexual harassment, pay inequality, and disrespect for women. As a result of these experiences, she became active in the quest for equality by participating in women’s organization that sought change.

Not satisfied with the status quo or the lack of movement to achieving real equality, Carlynne created Change in Our Lifetime, Inc. to push for education and action and women’s equality.

An articulate and passionate activist, she wrote “The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality” to create a larger platform for change beyond equality’s current state, and for achieving real equality for women.

Discover more on her website: www.carlynnemcdonnell.com and connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carlynnemcd/ and Twitter: @carlynnemcd 

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