Thursday, July 31, 2014


Mom is on the left about one year before she died - then mi abuelita doña Panchita and mi tia Angelita. 


My long term readers know I use August 1st as the day to encourage women to seek knowledge about heart health. Know your body - if you know something is wrong see a doctor. If he tells you all is fine and you know something is wrong - see another doctor.  When in comes to women and heart health sexism still rules how women are treated.

I do not do this story every year because I think about mom's passing.  Life is what it is.  But I think she would happy to know I use this day to encourage women to empower themselves about heart health.

She was the mom who made gallo pinto [refried rice and little red beans] for all of our friends. A friend of the family who died very young wife told a great story at her husband's funeral.  She said when Bruce got to heaven mom would be waiting with a plate of gallo pinto. 

I remember one neighbor complaining that mom left too early on Sunday to take us to the beach or somewhere else.  You see, back then as many kids who could fit in the station wagon were allowed to go with us.  This neighbor's kids got out of church after we were gone.  Our church got out early.  It was always odd to me that mom was the bad person for not waiting on her kids to get out of church, but she was the good mom for relying on my mom to keep her kids entertained.

She was a good mom - she was a mom - she taught me a rule I live by until this day.  I do not eat until all of my guests are fully served and have enough.  If I made too little then I eat what is left.  Mom always ate last - mom's make sure their kids are fed first.

Anyway two years ago while in NY taking care of my sister for a week after her lung cancer surgery [second hand by the way] I learned the rest of the story about how mom died.

I was in Panama when my cousin returned from NY to tell me mom was sick.  I took the bus back to Managua, Nicaragua and caught the Miami flight and then on to NY.  I was with her in the car when she had what today we would call a TIA [ mini-stroke].  She spent 10 days in the hospital with a so called clean bill of health.  Once the doctors told me she was okay I returned to El Paso for the second summer session.  My summer in Central and South America had been cancelled. 

A few days later I got the call that she had died.  She came home from bingo complaining of chest pain and arm pain.  They took her by ambulance to Nassau County Medical Center.  The quack looked at her previous medical records and diagnosed her with female hysteria and admitted her to the psych ward.  Just about the time they got her in her gown she threw up.  About the time they finished changing her my sister went home.  By the time she got home the call  had  come mom had died from a massive heart attack.  We later learned the fluid around the heart crushed her heart.  There was noting left of her heart.

I did not know about the psych ward part until two years ago.  I am still baffled why the family did not sue for malpractice.

My bigger point is, doctors are wrong and they dismiss women as being mentally ill if they as doctors cannot explain the cause of the chest pains.

Every year young wealthy actors die of heart disease because they dismiss the symptoms because of their youth.  I caught my heart disease very young.  I listened to my body.  My blood pressure is perfect.  My lipids are all now very, very low, and my blood sugar is great.  It is not what you see on the outside Dr. Gowen which matters, it is what is happening on the inside.


Several years ago the VA paid to have me see a local cardiologist.  I can say without hesitation that two sisters have proven beyond any doubt the stress test with nuclear dye is worthless.  One died 24 hours after a normal test, another has had 4-5 heart attacks within 24 hours after normal stress tests.  If the stress test with nuclear dye is your doctor's test of choice - get a different doctor.  One sister's last cardiac event came after they took her off all of her medicine because everything was normal due to the weight loss caused by the radiation pills she takes as part of her post cancer surgery regiment. So even with normal lipids and blood pressure you can have a heart attack.  After a normal stress test, while in the emergency room with a heart attack a basic chest x-ray caught the lung cancer.

Anyway, my PCP and I summarily dismissed the report of the local cardiologist because the patient summary he included in his report was for a patient other than me.  I never actually saw the quack - you just see assistants. 

The VA has given me a voucher to see a cardiologist, but I refuse to see anyone in the LRGV - all I ever hear are horror stories - I  refuse to waste taxpayer money on another quack. Besides I do not believe the problem is with the heart.

But ladies here is the scoop - DO NOT ALLOW THE DOCTOR TO DISMISS YOU

Stay at it until you find a doctor who believes you are having chest pains.  Then keep on going back until they can explain the cause of the chest pains. 

No women should ever again have to suffer the indignity suffered by my mother because of gender bias by cardiologists. 


Oh, dinner on Thursday - gallo pinto, handmade corn tortilla's - no machine - I use my hands and a Nicaraguan pork dish.  August 1st is a day of celebration for her life and strength in raising 7 kids by herself after daddy died in 63'.  Trust me she experienced the bigotry which comes from being a single Latina with 7 kids.  But she never gave up.  The day I took her to Nassau County Medical Center I was proud of all of the signs in Spanish and English.  She fought with every bone in her body to make that happen and it did.  Those signs are an important part of her lasting legacy.


Anonymous said...

You had beautiful Parents. We can see that you get your good looks from Your Dad.

BobbyWC said...

Well I got the bald from my mother's side - the grey I do not know where - no one has ever gone grey this young - but I do have his mother's nose - The Parmenters hated my grandfather so there is no love lost between the families - well except Aunt Ethel who loved my mom and left her some ATT stock - Ethel bought the stock when it was first issued.

But trust me getting Harriet Parmenter's nose is no blessing. I would love to have my dad's nose. 12 kids and I am the only one cursed with Harriet's nose

Bobby WC