When your career, friends, family comes before health

IMG_48332Anyone who knows Jane is likely to describe her as a woman of resolve. A long-time corporate executive, she turned her energy to consulting for businesses in Charleston and advocating for women’s power. Jane is the sort of person others turn to when it’s time to “get things done.”

Frankly, her story is familiar to many women. Busy with career, friends, community and family, she never had time to be sick. Sure, she could stand to drop a few pounds and get more exercise, but that could come later. In the meantime, there were appointments and obligations and others to tend to.

And then she encountered here “little episodes.” Those moments appeared out of nowhere, causing dizziness, disorientation and shortness of breath. “It was very odd, but not what you think of in heart attacks,” she recalls. “None of the chest pains or searing arm pain.”

Shopping one day with husband, Gary, he observed an episode, then another. “He basically told me to shut up and get in the car.” Recalls Gary: “I told her she was either walking to the car or I was dragging her.”
Hooked up to an EKG, she was put in an ambulance to Roper. Tests showed no heart attack, yet, but uncovered 3 blockages, 2 at 95% and 90% in the right coronary artery. A third – at 75% – would wait. They prepped her for surgery, and Jane overheard a cardiologist tell Gary that had she ignored her signs much longer, she’d likely have died.

The six weeks separating surgery were a time of gratitude and discovery. Jane discovered that she’d had symptoms for a long time, including shortness of breath at night. Her fix was to prop up on first 2, then 3 pillows. Turns out, that is a common symptom – and solution – for women with heart problems.

She also learned she’s a “cholesterol producing machine.” Her 3rd blockage went from 75% to 95% in six weeks, despite a post-surgery regimen of healthy eating and moderate exercise. Jane’s father had died of a massive coronary at 46. “I knew my family history was there, but as a woman, I just resolved I was fine and it wouldn’t happen to me.”

“I used to be in really great shape, and I always knew what I had to do. I just chose not to,” she admits. No more. She has again assembled a team to keep her on the healthy path.

And she’s modeling the lifestyle for others. Husband Gary says he’s eating healthier than ever thanks to Jane’s new regimen. And an imminent dinner party at their home was planned to feature fish and vegetables. “And they’ll love it,” laughs Jane.

As the professional consultant, Jane focuses much of her newfound health on helping other women gain theirs. “I ask business women to tell me their operating metrics. They know their departmental metrics, sales revenue and cost per widget.” But, she says, if asked their blood pressure, glucose or cholesterol level, they’re stumped.

“That is just so disturbing,” says Jane. “We women know all the numbers that matter to our business, but not to ourselves. We must change this through self-care and concern.

“After all,” she concludes. “If you don’t know your numbers, and you kick the bucket, it really won’t matter how good you were at running your business.”

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