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Karen Syed’s Story

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Karen's Story

In March 2008, I went to the doctor for an Echocardiogram. I deal with exertive asthma. Earlier in February I went to Love is Murder, a conference in Chicago-I live in Maryland. I arrived after driving for 17 hours into a snowstorm. At any rate, I arrived in a state of extreme distress, two of the most wonderful people in the world came to my rescue (Luisa Buehler, author of the Grace Marsden Mystery series, and Mary Welk, author of A Rhodes to Murder Mystery series). They nursed and coddled me to the point that I could function again, and the weekend went on.

The next morning in woke up with a cold and a bit more stress. So anyway,I went on with my life and running Echelon Press. I left Chicago (driving home after being notified that my mother was in the hospital with congestive heart failure and likely would not pull through-she did-must run in the genes-survival, that is). The following weekend I flew to San Diego for the Southern California Writers’ Conference where I was a speaker and did editor interviews, and then the following weekend I drove to Columbia, SC for the SC Book Festival. It was a full month of events and I guess maybe (even though I knew I was having problems) I did not take them seriously enough. It seems now, even though it cannot be confirmed, that I probably threw a clot in Chicago and am more than a little fortunate to be alive. At the same time I contracted a viral infection that wreaked havoc on my heart.

So I go for the Echo, and the doctor tells me I am going to be admitted to the hospital. Well, how can that be? I have a company to run, I have e-mails to answer, books to read, submissions to consider, I don’t have time to go to the hospital. So on Tuesday I go. He had compelling arguments. I had retained a dangerous amount of fluids (those who saw me in Feb. can vouch for my cantaloupe feet) and my heart had grown to three times its normal size and was only pumping at 20%. Yup, I went.

On Thursday I had a heart catheterization that indicated some other issues (I know way more about the heart than I did a week ago) and on Monday I was jacked up with a brand spanking new ICD – defibrillator and pacemaker. What is my point, you ask?

I feel like a dolt! Yup, I am a relatively bright woman, run my own company, teach others what I have learned, yadda yadda yadda, but did not have a clue about what was going on in my own chest. Don’t make the same mistake! I was even a supporter of the Red Dress Campaign, but still didn’t know how badly I was destroying my own body and darn near killing myself. Bottom line…Cardio Myopathy SUCKS!

I beg you to pay attention to what is happening with your body and especially your heart. Did you know that more than 322,000 women die of heart disease each year? Heart disease is the single highest killer of women now. It’s not just about men anymore. The after effects? I can only stay awake for a couple hours at a time, I have this big honking foreign object over my boob (and doesn’t even play music or movies), and it took me over two hours to write this post. So what are you going to do?

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