Lesson Learned About Denial

by Mike

I wanted to pass along part of my heart attack experience to help convince people of the things to watch out for and how to respond in the event of a possible heart attack. And I wanted to present some valuable information to my fellow veterans.

When I began having chest pain and feeling the pressure and discomfort, my first thought was denial. Even though I had many of the classic symptoms; chest pain, pressure, discomfort, sweating and vomiting, I was thinking of what else it could be.

I didn't have high blood pressure, my cholesterol was not high and I exercised every day. But still the signs were right there. My wife asked if I was having a heart attack. I offered that it may just be indigestion, but I knew deep down that it was not.

Fortunately for me, she called 911 immediately. The ambulance crew quickly determined that in fact I was having a heart attack. Within two hours of feeling the first pain the cardiac staff at the hospital had placed three stents into my plugged artery. Fortunately, I did not suffer major lasting heart damage and with medications,I function pretty well.

I later learned that while serving with the army in Vietnam I was exposed to agent orange which can lead to ischemic heart disease, (plugging of arteries.)

LESSON LEARNED! I would advise Vietnam veterans to be aware of the affects of agent orange and to visit the VA website to learn more about the many health dangers related to agent orange exposure.

I would advise anyone that remotely thinks they may be having a heart attack to get help. Do not be in denial and waste precious time before getting help. It is far better to go to the hospital and find out you do not have a heart issue than to put it off and suffer major damage or even death.

I would also strongly recommend understanding your physical and cardiac condition. Know your cholesterol level, as well as blood pressure numbers. And get regular exercise. This is especially important if your family has a history of heart problems.

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Just below is a quote from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson.  The chapter title is "Open Your Heart To Compassion." 

"Every day we are given hundreds of opportunities to practice compassion in action.  We can learn to be less reactive and live with more patience.

We can smile when others are serious.  We can drive our cars more carefully, pick up litter on the streets, recycle, and reduce our consumption.

We can resolve conflicts rather than create them, and we can become less judgemental and more inclusive.  When someone is aggressive, we can teach them to be more peaceful.  Instead of waiting for an example, we can be the example.

The more compassion that enters your heart, the happier and more peaceful you will become.  By knowing that you are doing your part to create a better world-whatever form that takes-you will fill any void that exists in your life, and you will begin to find the peace you are looking for."

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