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joano's Journal
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4/03/05 04-01-2005 - 11:52 AM

The first thing I want to say is thank you to all my sisters - I love you all, and there is NO WAY I could have gotten through this hysterectomy experience (and oh, what an experience that was!) without all your help, support, wisdom, laughter, and sharing of knowledge. I'll be here as long as I can, doing my best to try to pass that along.

And most especially I thank you, Kathy, for making and keeping this beautiful forum of sisterhood. (and all the Hostesses too!) It pains me to think of all the women going through this alone and I would say to anyone who reads this - please tell your friends, acquaintances, your doctor, their staff, whoever you meet in the elevator, and their dog! - tell everybody about this site! And please support it in any way that you can.


Most of us, I think, have at least one issue that we care about the most. For me, the most important issue is heart disease - and it may be for you too at some point, because HEART DISEASE is the leading cause of death of women.

Check out these 2001 stats for the leading causes of death in women:

361,000 - heart disease
100,000 - stroke
66,000 - lung cancer
63,000 - copd (a pulmonary disease)
41,000 - breast cancer
13,900 - ovarian cancer

Here are just a few thoughts I would like to share so you can be aware, and be pro-active if and when that time comes - because you will need to be:

1) That women are misdiagnosed more than 50% of the time, in the ER, for heart symptoms. (I will find and post the references later)

2) If you go to the ER with chest pain, you will most often be 'diagnosed' with something else. You may (or may not) believe the alternate 'diagnosis' of gerd, acid reflux, anxiety, IBS, gall bladder, or you may even be accused of cocaine use (I believe it goes in about that order). You will probably feel embarrassed that you ever even went to the ER, and delay seeking emergency help the next time. Warning: It *could* cost you your life if you postpone seeking help next time - so go anyway!!!

So, I am here to remind my sisters that YOU know your own body the best (how many times have we heard this before with hyst related issues, complications, etc.) and if YOU feel like something is going on - be your own advocate!!!


This happens to all of us as women, regardless of age, (even with a heart history) where a man with the same symptoms would be admitted immediately and taken very seriously.


Women seldom have the classic chest pain that men do - i.e., right in the center of the chest, tightening, squeezing, shortness of breath, radiating down arm, etc. Women can have these symptoms too, however ours are usually very different from men's, appearing in a variety of ways - or not at all. (I've had all 3 kinds) However, many if not most doctors are lagging in their understanding of this, and continue to evaluate us in the same ways as men.

And (briefly - I have another support group for this) I have a long heart history (RF, etc.), went to the hospital in January '05 with severe chest pain, radiating down arm (unusual location for me - usually jaw/neck & down arm) - and was admitted (also unusual - for a woman) and was released 3 days later with a 'diagnosis' of GERD (acid reflux) - which I don't/have never had. The diagnosis of GERD was reached in spite of these findings from the ekg's and echo taken during that hospital stay: sclerotic aortic and mitral valve; mitral & tricuspid regurgitation with mild pulmonary hypertension; borderline left atrial abnormality; probable left ventricular hypertrophy; right BBB. (I already knew about most of this.)

My experience is the perfect illustration of my point. If I can be 'dissed', misdiagnosed, etc. - so can you, and especially with first occurrences. Heart disease is the number one cause of death of women. (read 1 and 2 above - again)

And I'm sure the sisters will appreciate this - they dropped the EKG box on my TAH incision in the ER - and then.... "abdominal pain" was added to the ER writeup as a complaint which brought me there. And the write-up also says I have.... "acquired absence of genital organs". Wow! and I thought this was referred to as a TAH! (always pick up your hospital records!)

I hope you will ALL go online and check out this VERY important issue - heart health. Go to the site for the American Heart Association, for starters. Follow the links around and see what you can find out. Consider your own/family history for heart disease when you are making your ovary decision!!! (see last, below)

Keep an eye on your diet, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, and exercise (and any other health issue) - and be very pro-active about your health! Do all the things you can do to take responsibility for your own body. If you don't, no one else will!

When you consider whether or not to keep your ovaries, here is a thread that you might find very helpful...(and this can relate to your risk for heart disease)

"Ovaries? Keep or not? Why or why not?"

Discuss (This entry has 2 member comments.)



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