Boycotting Heart Disease

It has been almost two months since I have blogged.   This blog sits in the back of my mind as I keep thinking to myself that I really need to write.  Truth is, I have kind of been boycotting heart disease.  I have taken the summer off; not from having heart disease but from thinking about it defining me.

My move from the corporate world has been a whirlwind.  In a matter of five months, I have gone from being an expert in anesthesia billing to owning The Vintage Sunflower,  a vintage furniture and home decor store.  I haven’t had time to think about heart disease.  I’ve been busy following my passion.

IMG_20150805_212434I love making old worn out pieces of furniture pretty again.  I love getting up and putting on jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of Birkenstocks and making my way the mile to my store.  What a change from commuting an hour each way.  I love meeting my customers and getting to know my community better.

These days, I don’t think of heart disease as often as I did.  I really just don’t have time.  The great thing?  I don’t have any symptoms to constantly remind me.  My symptoms of chest pain were so bad before I quit my job that I was sure I was very quickly going to have a second heart attack before I turned 50.  Now, I don’t feel that way.  It is amazing what stress can do.  In fact, one study published in Behavioral Science and Policy states that stress at work is as bad for you as second hand smoke.

My summer off from heart disease defining me, my boycott,  is over and that is ok.  I was asked to be the chair of the Go Red Ambassadors for The American Heart and Stroke Association in Kansas City.  We are a volunteer group of survivors and advocates who educate women in our community that heart disease and stroke are the number one killer of women.  It is a great honor and I am proud to serve as the chair.  I can’t wait to work side by side with such amazing ladies!  Without heart disease defining me, I would never know them. That my friends is the beauty of ending the boycott!

1 thought on “Boycotting Heart Disease”

  1. Such an interesting concept, Jodi! It must have been hard to “boycott” your diagnosis when you were having ongoing symptoms at work. As you say, stress is a significant and often under-recognized factor in increased cardiac symptoms.

    I attend our Regional Pain Clinic regularly for the treatment of ongoing refractory angina caused by inoperable coronary microvascular disease, where we are taught assorted techniques of pain self-management. Many of these techniques mirror what you have experienced. We learn there, for example, that if we can manage stress better, we can actually help lower our pain perception. Practicing stress-reduction techniques over and over can actually make the nervous system less sensitive, thus helping to turn down that protective reaction of pain. Leaving your stressful job and starting up your new store required an intense focus on something other than your heart.

    None of these pain self-management classes can change what’s happened to any of us to cause our pain in the first place, but many pain specialists believe that we can learn to decrease the hypersensitivity of the nervous system. And what our nervous systems have learned can be unlearned! Your nervous system is now intensely focused on your new store, thus helping it to unlearn what it has learned about stress-induced chest pain. It’s fascinating!! More on this here:

    Best of luck to you in this exciting new chapter in your life, Jodi!


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