Be still my beating heart.


It used to be that “heart month” meant the time for celebrating Valentine’s Day. The last few years everyone has jumped on the bandwagon for National Heart Month, and, for women’s health … now we have “National Wear Red Day” (this year it is Friday, February 5th).  The media gathers statistics about the heart and will wow you with them – they wow me for sure.  Here’s one for you:  more women die of heart attacks than breast cancer.  I didn’t know that fact and was surprised to hear it.  Here’s another one:  the American Heart Association says heart disease and strokes kill approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Now, that’s scary for sure.

My grandmother, Minnie Goddard, who is pictured above, was one such woman – in fact we buried her thirty years ago today. My grandmother slowed down a lot her last few years – she spent most of her time taking afternoon naps, usually during her soaps.  At night though, she had a ritual – one that the family would tease her about.  Her bedtime ritual was to have a small glass of cherry cordial from the decanter she kept on her nightstand.  “Down the hatch” she’d say, then she’d put the empty glass on the nightstand, snuggle down under her blankets and soon was fast asleep.  Her cardiologist prescribed the wine as a Rx for a good night’s sleep, and she liked its instant effect because she could sleep soundly without hearing the thump of her heart reverberating on the mattress.

Eight of my grandmother’s siblings died from heart disease, all before her, and, in her 80th year, my grandmother joined them.  It was the morning after the Challenger disaster … she woke up to searing chest pain, called out for my aunt, but she died of a massive heart attack enroute to St. Joe’s.  My mother remarked dryly “well the last day of her life she missed all her soaps due to the Challenger incident” so the anniversary of the disaster usually strikes a poignant note for me.

My mom, had her own share of heart problems, in addition to her orthopedic woes and the occasional flare-ups of cellulitis. I’d take her to see the GP quarterly and accompany her into the examining room because the doc was soft spoken and Mom was deaf in one ear.  I’d listen to ensure we wouldn’t miss anything he said.  He’d routinely run heart tests on her because she had an irregular heartbeat and it caused “flutters” sometimes, so nitroglycerin was one of her many pills he prescribed for her.  He’d always ask Mom how many “heart episodes” she’d had since the last time.  The answer was usually “five or six” … that worried me.  After the first time she gave him that answer, coming home in the car I turned to her and said “you didn’t tell me about them”, and I was chastised for asking and told if I mentioned it again, I would stay in the waiting room going forward.  So, I never brought the subject up again, but plenty of times, in the still of the night, I’d see her mini flashlight go on, with a faint beam shooting across the hall into my room.  Then I’d hear the narrow wooden drawer of her nightstand slowly creak open and the rattle of tiny nitro pills as one was fished out of the bottle.  Soon the drawer was shut again, and the nitro pill placed under her tongue to work its magic.  After the pill dissolved, the flashlight was shut off.  I was ever-mindful of how quickly the pills disappeared, and the frequency of the refills which I picked up at CVS with the regular prescription meds.  Nope … we never spoke about it again, and, it was not heart issues that caused my mom’s death, but sepsis from a perforated bowel.

At age 40, I decided to be proactive about the family heart problems and had a complete set of heart and stress tests performed ; even a Holter monitor was strapped on for the weekend. My “ticker tapes” came back perfect and I passed with flying colors.

So, it appeared the heart issues had skipped a generation – at least from that set of tests taken nearly twenty years ago.

After my mom passed away on January 31, 2010, I decided there would be no more fast food for me, much as I liked it. We had gotten way too comfortable with cruisin’ through the line at Little Caesar’s for a $5.00 pizza … just a five-minute wait for piping hot pizza versus having it at home; and, there were those chicken nuggets and fries deals for a buck apiece that sure beat dragging all the stuff out of the oven to put in a tray of nuggets and fries or French bread pizza, then cleaning up afterward.

Since then I’ve eaten much healthier and become a poster child for Michelle Obama as to produce. I let this quote from Hippocrates be my mantra:  “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Now that it is officially “heart month”, you’ll hear all kinds of tips on keeping yourself heart healthy, like “spend at least thirty minutes a day, five days a week doing moderate exercise” for example. That works for me – I walked my four miles this morning.  As to healthy eating, well I get a gold star for that too, BUT, some sound bites from the radio this morning included Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz at a rally telling school kids that when his wife Heidi is First Lady “French fries are coming back to the cafeteria” – so much for Michelle Obama’s school lunch menus; meanwhile, Burger King is touting its “Extra Long Buttery Cheeseburger”, a double-cheeseburger on a hoagie roll with buttery garlic sauce.

No! No! No!

I thought we were eating healthier to keep from plugging up our arteries?

I knew my sedentary lifestyle, once I started working from home in 2011, was not healthy. Long hours staring at the laptop screen, just moving around the kitchen and up and down the hall and a little yardwork.  So, I embarked on a walking regimen in the Fall of 2011.  It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, and, that led to this walking blog, probably the second best thing I’ve done just for me.

A year ago today, in conjunction with “heart month” I decided to give up red meat – I can’t say that I miss it, though every so often I’ll dream about a large onion bun, piled sky-high with roast beef and dripping with slaw and dressing, a concoction much like Edward X. Delaney, the detective in Lawrence Sanders’ “Deadly Sins” series, might enjoy, but, alas, I now make do with turkey on a whole grain bagel with light mustard instead.

I’ve eaten so much turkey this past year, sometimes I feel that I’ll open my mouth one day and a gobble will come tumbling out instead of words.

But, that’s okay – it’s for the cause.

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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8 Responses to Be still my beating heart.

  1. Marge Aubin says:

    Fabulous. Makes me wonder why I never was receptive to exercise.


  2. ann marie stevens says:

    Miss Linda…………….I love the pic of Minnie Goddard………………….and I’m sorry to hear that your mother died on January 31…………………only you know how tender that date is………………………….thanks for the uplift about heart disease in woman…………………that;ll make me go for a walk tomorrow for sure……………..I work hard at the soup kitchen on Mondays running all around the big place……………..but there’s no excuse any longer because they weather is wonderful……………..I’m glad you’re keeping healthy


    • lindasschaub says:

      The end of January is sad for me Ann Marie – anniversaries of death dates … my grandmother on the 29th and the 31st for my mom. I worry about the heart issues – so far, so good and the walking helps. You are very active – more than me! Hope you got your walk in. Hopefully, my diet helps – it is a little boring though. 🙂


  3. Wow Linda…..I’m sorry to hear your mom died of sepsis and a perforated bowel. That really is a medical emergency. Your grandmother could now be treated with a clotbusting drug to open the artery, but they weren’t available in 1986 when the Challenger exploded. (I remember that day too, as I had just gone for a job interview at a hospital). We didn’t start using clot-busters until the early 90’s I think. The key is to get to the hospital quick with any kind of chest pain, as time is muscle. You may have different genes than your mom and grandmother, esp as you are tall, but it’s good you changed your diet. I remember one 55 year old patient in the ICU after his third heart attack, on the phone ordering a pizza because he didn’t like the hospital food! I seldom eat anything fried, but I do eat red meat occasionally, but more chicken and fish. My downfall is desserts. I do need to walk more… was nice today but by the time I got home from tests and errands the sun had gone, and there is still a pile of ice on the sidewalks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Joan – three days before we went to the E.R. my mom, who was confined to bed, woke up with a terrible pain in her side. I thought maybe a kidney stone or appendicitis. When I was young my father’s appendix burst and he had to be taken by ambulance as my mom did not drive. I was very young, but remember the ambulance coming to the house when we lived in Oakville. My mother refused to go to the hospital and she had taken to her bed as her sciatica kept her from sitting down in a chair for too long and when she stood up, she had cellulitis in her legs and the burning from that, as well as the swelling, would make her want to sit down again. It was my mom, who decided she should confine herself to bed “for a few days” – the few days turned out to be almost three months, and then she had the pain with the perforated bowel and I had to have her go to the hospital by ambulance. I tried to call the day before and she was adamant she would not go and she could not stand up and go with me on her own accord – she had been laying down for too many days at that point. She could not keep food down and on the Saturday morning that I called for the ambulance, she woke up disoriented and did not recognize me and was not lucid. Very scary. The doctor said it was the infection from the sepsis. I did eliminate red meat, however, I went to turkey and canned tuna and salmon. I also started eating more soups with beans … I developed gout in my big toe. I did not take medicine for it – I just eliminated all the gout-producing foods (which turned out to be turkey, tuna and beans) … why would you think that having turkey lunch meat would be any different than chicken lunch meat – I wouldn’t have thought so. I was just trying to avoid red meat. Or that tuna was bad, salmon was good. Turkey, tuna and beans have purine – bad for causing gout and I didn’t drink enough water. I wrote a whole blog post bout it – I won’t send it as it is really long and it seems I always send you blog posts. 🙂 I was also eating a lot of clementines as it was Winter – all the sugar is bad for you – who knew? I thought I was eating healthy for goodness sake! About 4-5 times a year I will buy a package of roast beef for sandwiches – you don’t get more than 2-3 servings in a package and that’s it, though I think the red meat they are talking about is having a big steak every night … maybe that it is not good. I walked this morning but am mad at the weathermen – four weather stations said snow last night and into this morning and through the morning – not a drop of snow. I could have gone on a little jaunt instead, but that’s okay, I do like that park and did get a walk in. Grateful for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so sorry to hear that Linda….such a sad story and outcome. It must have been horrible for you to see her going through all that. I’ve seen how fast sepsis can happen with my mom – when she was 78 she ended up in the ICU twice in two weeks, with sepsis post flu. I had just started a new job and worked the evening shift, and when I called her after work, she told me she was fine but she didn’t sound fine, so I went over and she was burning up with fever, delirious etc. I called the ambulance, and after a 3hr wait in the ER for a bed and a dose of a strong iv antibiotic she was admitted to the ICU and the next morning was much better – antibiotics are the miracle drugs of the century. Unfortunately, the doctor who discharged her thought it was viral, and sent her home after only 5 days of the antibiotic, and we went through the whole thing again 2 weeks later as that bacteria was still lurking in her body. My mother was a healthy 78yr old, but it just shows how quickly the flu can kill, as she had been out getting groceries that morning! I was nervous for a long time, and watched her like a hawk – I’m still paranoid of her getting a cold or being around people with colds, but then I am a worrier anyway, esp when it comes to health issues. My dad died of cancer, but he was misdiagnosed, so I have a big distrust of the medical system, which I know is weird given that I was part of it for so long. As for the heart and diet dilemma – I just try to eat healthy and in moderation, and to avoid processed food. After I said I didn’t eat much red meat, I took my mom for groceries today, and to the pharmacy and hardware store (to replace all those flashlights which didn’t work during the storm!), and I ended up buying a roast beef, which I cooked today – I must have been craving meat, (maybe low in iron), anyway we’ll have the rest for leftovers for Sunday dinner. Must get to bed. Hope you enjoy the weekend weather, as it’s supposed to get colder again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That is very scary what happened to your mom and no matter you have a mistrust of the medical system (ironically since you worked in the field) … first your mom had the hip pain (my mom had a hip replacement too and a hip revision … the stem came loose which is unusual, if anything comes loose it would be the ball-and-socket area is not good, but it was the way my mom had to get up/down the stairs … she had to boost herself and be at an awkward angle, and it caused a problem – when they did the “revision” surgery, it was 9 years after the hip replacement. They used bone from the bone bank and told her that it would be problematic if she fell because they would be unable to remove the prosthesis since it was essentially cemented into her own bones with artifial bone. She was scared to death she would fall and would be in a wheelchair – we would have had to move as this house would not accommodate a wheelchair. It was terrible what she went through the last 9 months – especially the last month of her life. And I am a worrier as well and especially with the medical aspect and I too was afraid my mom would get a cold as she didn’t like to take cold meds due to all the meds she took. She one time had walking pneumonia – she could not get out of the house as we had bad ice everywhere and she minimized any symptoms to me – when we could finally go, doctor listened to her chest and said it was pneumonia and would have gotten worse if she had not come in – I knew it wasn’t good – he said she had rales, well I could hear some rattling in her chest and told her that we should go to the E.R. – call an ambulance as we could not go out on the ice (glare ice all over the sidewalk and driveway that came one night and took forever to get rid of it). And your dad being misdiagnosed with cancer – poor you – no wonder you are mistrustful of the medial system. I did not like any of my mom’s doctors, except one and he moved up north. They would talk to me, over her head and ignore her – hate, hate, hate that … didn’t like a single one of them. I did go for a long drive today and post took me forever to do – probably should have deferred doing it – I am behind in reading comments as I wanted to get out fairly early today while not too many people were on the road – lots of potholes and I could drive around them that way – my car needed a long run to keep the electrical system in good working order (that’s what the mechanic said was the issue with the last car, it was not getting driven enough). Don’t want to make the same mistake again.

        Liked by 1 person

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