Tag Archives: heart attack

Crawling Away To Lick Our Wounds

In the middle of a heart attack, I wanted only one thing*– keep it a secret and don’t tell my mom, dad or sister.

So, naturally, as soon as I was under and getting the arteries of my heart scoped and scoured of clots, my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Doing Things Her Own Way, immediately called all of my family and blabbed the whole thing.

In my case, I wanted to keep the heart attack a secret because I didn’t want to worry anyone and because I didn’t want to have to deal with the inevitable smothering care that would result from my family being worried for my health.**

I was taken to task for even contemplating the idea of possibly trying to keep what happened a secret from La Familia for even a moment. Worrying about other members and caring for them is what, I was told repeatedly while being beaten with a fluffed pillow that was supposed to be supporting my head, La Familia is supposed to do.

It turns out, though, that I’m not the only person who likes to keep an illness a secret.

I know two people around my age who have been fighting different sorts of cancer. Neither of them made any kind of announcement and, in fact, tried to strictly limit the number of people who knew about the disease and their fight against it.

Which meant, to me, that the urge to suffer in secret was a thing only dudes had to fight. And, yes, I was wrong again.

My dad’s wife recently beat a bout of cancer of her own. In talking to her, she said what she wanted most was for no one to have known so she could get better on her own and not have to keep talking about it to everyone who found out about it.

I think she pretty much hit it on the head. It’s not that I didn’t want people to care for me in my extremity, but I wanted them to do it on my terms. That is, allow me to say, “Enough. Stop talking about it and stop treating me like an invalid.” Instead, once people know, you have no ability to turn the course of this river of regret flowing through your life.

Or at least, you have no ability to do so without making folks feel bad and I didn’t want to do that because it would then have made me feel bad and that was sort of the opposite of what was supposed to be going on.

As far as I was concerned, the privacy I wanted was perfectly reasonable. However, having gone through something similar on the other side this time, I’m forced to admit that there is something to healthy-ish side of the argument.

When someone you love is hurting, the need to do something —

Helping others is ingrained in our genes, but so is the need to be left alone to lick our wounds. It's a conundrum, yeah?
The Dalai Lama is a nice dude.

anything — to help is very strong in most of us. There’s nothing most of us can do medically to help our loved one, so we do what we can.

We make meals. We clean the house. We walk the dog. We . . . get in the way. Because, if any of you dudes are like me, there’s only so much niceness directed at me that I can possibly stand.

When people are nice to me on a continuous basis, I start to get itchy and twitchy and wonder when the anvil is going to drop down out of the sky. And, yes I’m aware that speaks to some sort of deep-seated issue with my being able to be happy. Bite me.

So, I guess the takeaway from today is that, when you’re hurting, allow other people to help you, even if only for a little while. It will make your life a bit easier and it will make them feel better for doing what they can to ease your burden.

Just, you know, do it somewhere else.

Footnotes & Errata

* Other than live, of course. I mean, that was a clear number one with a bullet on my wish list.
** I did have reason to be worried. My mom once mailed me chicken soup when I was away at college and had a cold. Yes, seriously. Very loving. Only slightly psychotic. I also figured this would be the opportunity my sister would take to pay me back for all the years of torture help I gave her as a child.

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It Can Wait. Or Else.

More American teens die from the result of texting than drinking.

Serious as a heart attack here, dudes. It’s not drinking and driving that is taking out our teens (although it is doing its share, no question), but, rather, it’s texting and driving.

Chilling new research from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York suggests that texting while driving has become the number one cause of death amongst teenagers behind the wheel, surpassing drunk driving for the first time.

An estimated 3,000 teenagers die each year due to sending and receiving text messages while driving, as compared to the 2,800 who died due to drunk driving. Another 300,000 teenagers were injured via texting – a number again higher than the 282,000 injured due to intoxicated drivers.

This is bad, dudes. Appallingly bad.

I mean, really. Just how important is it to know that your friend laughed. Or knows which is the 11th letter of the alphabet.

To sound just like the advertising campaign started by AT&T and now endorsed by the four major cellphone carrier companies, It can wait!

Seriously. We as parents need to drill this into the heads our our teenaged drivers and, more importantly, the young dudes and dudettes who aren’t drivers yet, but will be soon.

The best way to teach these impressionable minds not to text and drive is by making sure you — VISIBLY — don’t mess with your phone when you drive. Talk to them. Lecture them. Show them newspaper articles or vids from the nets. . . Whatever it takes.

Texting is not worth someone’s life. It’s not worth my son’s life. It’s not worth your life. My wife. Anyone. It’s just a text. Heck, if it’s that important, pull over and stop before taking the text. If it’s that important, you’ll want to give it your full attention.

And, you know, it’s not just teenagers who are being stupid behind the wheel. I mean, it’s not like they have a monopoly on the practice, even though it might seem that way sometimes.

The researchers involved in the study suggest that the problem isn’t that texting behind the wheel is more dangerous than driving under the influence. The problem is that teenagers text far more often than they drink, especially while driving. Having more opportunities for accidents results in, predictably, more accidents.

Though the survey only took a look at the driving habits of teenagers, it would be safe to assume that texting while driving is just as dangerous to adults. A recent study by AT&T showed that nearly half of all adults text while driving– a rate even higher than amongst teens.

Do yourself a favor. Heck, do me a favor. Stay off the phone when you’re behind the wheel. Show your young dudes the right thing to do.

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Forget The Apple, Take An Aspirin A Day

I’ve probably already spoiled the reveal here, dudes, with that lousy headline, but there’s this 2,000-year-old wonder drug that can help keep you alive when you’re having a heart attack, or even help you prevent a heart attack in the first place.

Yeah, it’s called aspirin. You get no dude points for guessing that one, considering I not only used it in the title, but in the preceding paragraph. Sorry.

Look, dudes, let’s just get into the story and I’ll stop messing around about the guessing games. Sound good? All right.

Developed in 1897 by the German chemist Felix Hoffmann, aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, has long proved its value as an analgesic. Two millenniums before that, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used its active ingredient — which he extracted from the bark and leaves of the willow tree — to help alleviate pain and fevers.

Since then, we’ve gained insight into both the biological mechanism and the effects of this chemical compound. Many high-quality research studies have confirmed that the use of aspirin substantially reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the evidence for this is so abundant and clear that, in 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force strongly recommended that men ages 45 to 79, and women ages 55 to 79, take a low-dose aspirin pill daily, with the exception for those who are already at higher risk for gastrointestinal bleeding or who have certain other health issues. (As an anticoagulant, aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding — a serious and potentially deadly issue for some people.)

I had a heart attack in 2004 and, since then, I’ve been on some sort of anticoagulant or other. For the past couple of years, my cardiologist has had me on two baby (81 mg) aspirin a day, which is taking the place of the prescription drug that I used to be taking. It’s much less expensive, works just as well and I certainly feel better for that.

Not only can aspirin help against heart attacks, it’s also been shown to significantly reduce your chances of dying from cancer. Taking at least 75 mg of aspirin daily over five years has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from some common cancers by 21 percent. And that’s not all.

In March, The Lancet published two more papers bolstering the case for this ancient drug. The first, reviewing five long-term studies involving more than 17,000 patients, found that a daily low-dose aspirin lowered the risk of getting adenocarcinomas — common malignant cancers that develop in the lungs, colon and prostate — by an average of 46 percent.

In the second, researchers at Oxford and other centers compared patients who took aspirin with those who didn’t in 51 different studies. Investigators found that the risk of dying from cancer was 37 percent lower among those taking aspirin for at least five years. In a subsection of the study group, three years of daily aspirin use reduced the risk of developing cancer by almost 25 percent when compared with the aspirin-free control group.

So what are you dudes waiting on? Go out, talk to your doctor and then get some aspirin. Seriously.

— Richard


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