What is heart disease?
“Heart and blood vessel disease — also called heart disease — includes numerous problems, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.”
–America Heart Association
I’d like to tell you guys a story. This might be a lengthy one, so turn back now if you don’t have the time.
See this picture? It looks innocent enough, right? It might even look like I was having fun or maybe even enjoying myself. Well, my friends, this picture IS worth a thousand words! (Maybe not to you guys, but for me it certainly is.) Let me tell you how much this picture breaks me down inside.
I wanted to spend the day listening to some live music with my momma. The plan was to get to the stadium early, bring some snacks and tons of ice cold water because Texas heat is a bitch. It got much hotter than 79°… Trust me.
We were going to enjoy the entertainment and the company of each other. Just the 2 of us! I wanted my momma to have a really happy birthday. I wanted to give her a day that she would look back on and have all the good feels. Here’s to creating memories, right? Well… That’s not exactly how it happened.
Heart Rate: High 80’s
I got up early that morning and hit the shower. I knew it was going to be hot as Hades outside, so I prepared for shorts and a tank. By the time my momma arrived at our house I was already hot, tired, frustrated, & ready to sit on the couch in the AC with no sun anywhere near me! I knew I was being silly and that once I got there I would start enjoying myself because after all, my girl crush was going to perform and how could I not enjoy seeing her?! We spent quite a while packing some snacks and filling up water bottles. We stopped for gas and went on our way. I had finally convinced myself that this was going to be a great day.
Heart Rate: 100’s
We spent the long drive talking about some great new songwriters that I had recently become introduced to. It was a great drive because it made my momma smile – and that’s right around when everything changed.
Heart Rate: 80’s
We got out of the car and walked to the stadium. It wasn’t that far but it seemed like 4 miles. By the time we got our tickets scanned and purses checked and finally got inside the stadium, I was already searching for water and a place to sit. We trotted around until we finally found our seats. Right in front of the stage. What a surprise! Outstanding seats!! Perhaps indeed this is going to be alright. Let’s just sit here for a minute and cool down. Oh. Wait. There’s zero shade. None. Fuck.
Heart Rate: 130’s
Great. Now I’m sweaty, hot, in pain, thirsty, and blind. (Never forget your sunglasses. Ever.) We snapped a few photos and sat there trying to enjoy the music. That’s right, trying. The whole time I was thinking of ways to get my mom and me back into my car where the free water was. Where the food was. Where I could shield my eyes and sit in a comfortable seat! I could feel the cold AC blowing on my face already. I GOT IT! Let’s eat!
Heart Rate 130’s
But wait, Meighan. Now hold on. You are going to have to climb a mountain of stairs to get to the food. Your heart rate is already high and if you over do it, you know what will happen! Your cardiologist said anything above 160 and you have to stop everything and bring it down. Meh, it’s hot as balls and there is shade up there. Let’s go, mom! When we got to the top of the stairs I had already well overdone myself for the day. It was barely 1 pm.
Heart Rate: 190’s
I. Need. To. Sit. Down.
I can’t do this.
Extreme problems breathing
I found the nearest restroom and collapsed against the wall in the shade. I probably looked like a freshly boiled crab, and that’s positively how I felt. Imagine it, bright red and shiny as fuck from the sweat raining out of every pore on my body. My eyes felt like they had been replaced by small pin heads and I felt like I was walking sideways on ten legs. How embarrassing. After sitting there for quite some time I decided to go inside the restroom and grab some wet towels. I could wipe myself up and try to cool off a bit. WHOA – Holy sunburn Batman!
Heart Rate: 180’s
My momma was super patient. She knew I was having to control my heart rate, and she also knows that I’m extremely fat and unhealthy. We wondered around a bit trying to find a place upstairs in the shade to sit for a while. I was struggling so much that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I saw a big tent where people were playing bean bag games and just standing around drinking. There. That’s where I’m about to go fall on the concrete. Mission accomplished.
Heart Rate: 180’s
I sat there with my momma drinking stupid expensive water like a fish who had been out of the ocean for entirely too long. I was determined to sit there until my heart rate came back down below 100.
Once we left the stadium to head to the car, there was no going back. No re-entry… Dumbest thing ever. So we sat there, I was trying to breathe and guzzle water, and my mom just kinda waited for me. She tried to pass the time by talking about the food trucks. There were some weird ones there, for sure, but I only had one thing on my mind. GET ME OUT OF HERE.
Heart Rate: 170’s
We decided to give up. I was bailing on my girl crush! One of my most favorite artists! That’s when you know it’s bad. I was 200% done with the day. We headed back to the car. The walk was even longer the second time. We got in the car and immediately went for the cold water. We ate some fresh fruit and other snacks we had prepared and just listened to the radio.
Heart Rate: 190’s
Are you guys sick of being interrupted by my constant heart rate checks yet? Imagine having to be aware of your heart rate all waking hours. This affects my day to day activities. I’m sure many of you can fold the laundry without having to check your heart rate. Others might have no problem at all getting out of a hot bath or shower without having to check their heart rates. This is what it’s like guys. This is my current life. It’s always on my mind.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is heart disease.
My momma and I went on to have a wonderful time for the rest of the evening. We made some pretty great memories and all in all I’d say that it was a perfect way to celebrate both of our birthdays. We were together and that’s what counted. So now you can see why that photo doesn’t exactly bring up happy feels for me. It was embarrassing. It was concerning. It was miserable. It was simply the worst because it was that day that I realized all the fun stuff I love to do was no longer an option for me until I made a change.
I don’t care how you feel about meat or animals or dairy, or anything guys! I just want you to know what you are putting in your body and know how something so incredibly temporary can make lasting impressions on the rest of your life. I urge you all to educate yourselves. Luckily for me, I have a few wonderful friends who opened my eyes and have been there since day one to support me and lift me up.
Knowledge and support are really all you need to make a change.
Until next time,
2 thoughts on “Heart Disease at age 30.”
Thank you for sharing. My wife and I tried vegetarian, but couldn’t do it for the long term. We have incorporated more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fewer, but healthier meats into our diet. My diet and exercise slipped after moving to Georgia, but I am getting back on track.
By the way you might want to read some of Linda McCarthy’s books if you haven’t yet. She is credited with meatless Mondays, which my wife and I participate in.