By Sara Orellana
February is Heart Health Month. A month that is very important to my daughter and me. I don’t think we talk enough about our hearts and heart health. I mean we all see the TV commercials about high blood pressure and such, but we don’t talk about it.
As we enter into February, I would like to challenge you to talk about heart health. Make it normal to talk about health, chronic diseases, signs and symptoms, and ways to be healthier. We talk about everything else in the world, but we don’t normalize talking about health.
But here’s the catch: I want you to normalize talking about health in a positive way. My daughter and I had a rough week. Through a series of awkward events, I was seriously injured three times in 10 days, leaving every limb injured and gimpy. The cold made my daughter’s knee injury ache and swell. Because we both have old injuries that regularly flare up, and in my case new injuries, we talk about being safe a lot. We discuss shoe insoles, physical therapy exercises and how much KT tape we currently have in the house.
I share our injuries and my injury-prone nature to show you how we have normalized talking about an aspect of our health. We don’t talk about it in a negative way. We try to laugh and be funny, but we focus on factual conversations. Over the years, this has helped us better support each other and manage our injuries. We have the same conversations about our food allergies.
About 10 years ago, my dad had a massive heart attack. We knew something was wrong and took him to the ER. We were told he had kidney stones. (For the record) he did and still does. Tests were run at the same time and documented his heart attack. No one told us.
We left the ER thinking we were battling kidney stones. Life was hectic. My daughter was much younger, and we were full-time caregivers for my grandfather, who died of dementia. We all worked full-time. We were so focused on caring for grandpa and B, we never took note of our own health.
Christmas 2018, we almost lost my dad. He went in for a routine procedure and ended up being taken by ambulance to the heart hospital. Needless to say, Christmas that year was not enjoyable. Thankfully, dad is still with us. I learned several lessons. If we make our health a priority, we will be better caregivers, parents, and employers. If we talk about our health and how to be healthier, it normalizes these thoughts and makes being healthy second nature. And you should take every opportunity to tell the people you love that you love them.
This month, as we prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day and love, let’s also celebrate our hearts and heart health. If you have questions, visit the American Heart Association’s website or better, your doctor. But don’t put off asking questions or seeking answers. Love your heart. Make your health a priority.
Sara Orellana, MS, MPH is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at email@example.com.