By Sally Lippert
Who are you?
How many identities do you have? Most of us women have multiple identities--and we aren't talking "the many faces of Eve" or Sybil. We are daughters, sisters, mothers, wives and friends. But many of us also have a professional identity.
My primary identity has always been as a nurse.
Remember the Candy Stripers? I was one! I loved it so much that I decided to become a real, live nurse.
I started working in critical care, and then after watching three family members pass peacefully at home, I decided to change to hospice care. It really is a 24/7 job because everyone comes to you for medical advice. The diversity of end-of-life experiences is fascinating. It was by far the most rewarding portion of my career!
Despite all those years of caring for others, I neglected to think of my own health as a priority. And that's a lesson I want to share with all of you. Sometimes we have to put ourselves first, or we won't be around to care for others. When our whole identity is being a caregiver, it's hard to imagine ourselves being on the receiving end.
Women and heart disease...
Women tend to ignore the symptoms of heart disease. I know I did! And that's why heart disease is the #1 cause of death for us.
Why is heart disease killing so many of us women?
1. Because we ignore the symptoms...as I did. We're so busy taking care of other people that we put ourselves last.
2. Because our vessels are smaller, we become complacent about indigestion, nagging back discomfort between the shoulder blades, and pressure in the chest. These are all symptoms of heart problems.
3. And because our pain tolerance is higher, we let things go too long. We suffer more than we should. After all, most of us have gone through labor and delivery, and so we've experienced pain "up close and personal."
Men are more dramatic with their symptoms like the sensation of an “elephant on their chests” and profuse sweating.
Most doctors tend to ignore women who complain of vague symptoms--and our symptoms usually are vague! It took me multiple physicians, tests and practically begging doctors to recognize that I am not a hypochondriac. Unfortunately by the time I received proper treatment, my declining heart function left me unable to return to my identity as a nurse.
A new identity...and benefits to you!
Now Joanna is helping me find a new identity as I adjust to my physical limitations. This is how I have become Joanna’s Virtual Assistant because she allows me to help her as my health permits. Plus I get to read all the books I can, which never happened before.
Every Tuesday, I will blog about a health issue (can’t let all the nursing knowledge go to waste, can I?) Let me know if there is a topic you would like to hear about and I will write about it, along with answering your comments.
I am looking forward to my new identity -- and to getting to know all of you better!