(with apologies to Dr. Seuss)
Chest pain can make women WORRY a lot,
Yet when women seek help, some are told they should not.
“Anxiety, maybe – you’re stressed by the season!
“Your tests all look fine!” No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that these tests weren’t researched on them.
(And, really – aren’t women small versions of men?)
It could be that Grinch docs think women are lying
Or making up symptoms, without even trying.
When we do share our cardiac signs with these docs,
Some Grinches can’t quite think outside of the box.
Often our symptoms seem so vague or small
And some women don’t mention chest “pain” at all.
It’s pressure, or fullness, or a weird sort of ache
And awful fatigue might be what we can’t take.
Shortness of breath, arm hurts – we’re a wreck!
So much is happening from navel to neck.
We think we might vomit, it’s getting worse now!
This does not feel right, we need help – but please, how?
“Acid reflux!” My Grinch doc declares, loud and grim.
My Grinch nurse warns, “Stop asking questions of him!“
Embarrassed and shamed, I just want to go home.
Made a fuss over nothing, now feel quite alone.
Emergency Grinch, as I leave: “NOT YOUR HEART!!”
So no way I’m returning when symptoms restart.
But back to the ER I go, two weeks later.
Now desperately ill, damned GERD pain is much greater!
But this time, when Emergency staff look at me,
I can tell they’re now taking me seriously.
No Grinches today, the staff leap into action.
A cardiologist is called, and then swift satisfaction:
He can tell from my tests I have serious heart woes
In a fully blocked artery, stainless steel stent goes.
Just two weeks before, I’d been misdiagnosed.
I’d somehow survived fate more deadly than most!
Emergency Grinches delay diagnosis,
But watch for that other Grinch voice – barely noticed.
Our own voice is whispering, “It’s nothing! Relax!”
“Stop making a fuss! Just go back to your tasks!”
We put others first (it’s how women are raised)
Even a heart attack leaves us unfazed!
Yet you know your body when something feels wrong!
Treat YOURSELF as you would your own sister or mother,
Then learn about heart health, and share it with others.
Some things never change, I can just hear you say.
But the real Dr. Seuss used to put it this way:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not!”
Some Grinches aren’t green, and they wear stethoscopes
But some are our voices inside, crushing hope.
Don’t be a Grinch voice, whatever you do!
Trust what women say – and that starts within YOU!
Wishing a happy, heart-healthy, Grinch-free holiday season to my wonderful readers. . .
NOTE FROM CAROLYN: In my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease“ (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), I wrote much more about how to help yourself get an accurate cardiac diagnosis. You can ask for this book at your local library or favourite bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from Johns Hopkins University Press (limited time SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER! Use their code HHOL to save 40% off the list price when you order).