Alright ladies, listen closely. If you haven’t ever had your cholesterol checked, do it now. If you know you have high numbers, start working on it. If you have a family history, get yourself a cardiologist and have a full workup. Know your body and know your risks. Now.
As if you need a reason other than living past 40, consider this one: do you want kids? If you have kids, do you want more?
I have two sons and they are the center of my universe and my reason for living. And now I know they are even greater miracles and blessings, because yesterday I learned there will be no more babies. Ever. Apparently being a heart attack survivor and being pregnant are incompatible.
“You would be extremely high risk.”
“The increased blood volume is too much for your heart.”
“You already have children who need you to live.”
“Furthermore, all the drugs you are on are not safe for pregnancy and it’s not safe for you to go off them.”
Okay, okay, I got it!
And to ice the cake: “But, you can’t have any hormone-based birth control, and oh, when you get to menopause, you can’t have hormone therapy then too.”
I’m not really as bitter as this sounds, it’s more like bittersweet. I’m even more grateful that I was able to have my two boys, and we had pretty much decided that we did not plan to have more children. It’s just so weird when something so close to my definition of myself — a woman, a mother — is suddenly no longer my decision or even an option. I guess that’s part of living with heart disease (or any disease for that matter). I can’t decide that I don’t like the idea of medications. I can’t decide I’ll just work off the extra calories if I want to eat that dulce de leche or mac and cheese. I can’t decide, when my youngest turns eight or so, that I really did want one more baby.
But you can decide to be proactive and protect yourself as much as possible. What could you do to avoid this not-surprising-yet-life-changing side effect? Don’t have a heart attack, if you can avoid it. Do everything you can to make yourself as safe as you can. If you know what you need to do, do it. If you don’t, find out, and then do it.
Get it? Good.