From the Heart

I think this past academic year has been the oddest of all. By no means was it a bad year. But it certainly was taxing, and I did more growing up than anticipated.

My mum had a heart attack in the beginning of October. We didn't see it coming, and it came in the typical fashion with women- quietly, and appearing to be a case of the flu. Even though it happened at noon, nobody called me until 7 pm, the time I finished class that day. My mum was very clear that I was not to be told until after class, and even as I talked to my dad on the phone that night, I could hear my mum saying "she's supposed to be hanging out with her friends tomorrow, tell her to go hang out with her friends." Rest assured, I did not go hang out with my friends the next day.

Thankfully, my mum is recovering; it takes at least a year to recover from a heart attack. As soon as she could, she sent me from her hospital room back to college. My mum is so adamant that I never stop my life for her. But it's really hard to try to concentrate on homework when all you want is to be at home. And it wasn't even just that I wanted to be at home, it was that I was afraid to be away from home. I didn't want her to be alone again. I wanted to be at home taking care of my mum, helping to find recipes for her new diet and going on short walks. 

People with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, like my mother, are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, and my family is not an exception. It's a rarely discussed fact of psoriatic disease, but one that is prevalent and needs to be focused on. Chronic inflammation is not good for anyone's body, and we need to be more in tune to what it can mean for our health. That's why it's so important to keep psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis under control. Unfortunately, most dermatologists and rheumatologists don't screen their patients for metabolic issues such as high blood pressure, even though cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

I've always believed in the power of patient advocacy and education, however I believe in it now more than ever. Looking back, there was some indication that this was coming. As a patient, you have a right to know what's going on with your health- even if it's just a quick note of slightly elevated blood pressure on your chart or your blood work beginning to show signs of insulin resistance. You also have the right to ask for additional testing for metabolic diseases, even if you don't show signs yet. These things often creep up over time, and can get out of hand very quickly.

Life has changed so much since October. I've learned a lot about life too, and I think my outlook on most things have changed. For so long, I was so wrapped up in obedience, fear, and toeing the line that I forgot to breathe, take life for what it is, and to open doors rather than close them. You have to love like there's no tomorrow. I find life to be a bit quieter lately, but because I've decided to take paths less traveled. But not only that, it's time to respect the santicity of life- and for my mum and I, that means taking time to care for the heart.


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