Rosie O'Donnell's Heart Attack: How Listening to our Instincts Can Save Our Lives

Women: Remind yourselves how ignoring your instincts can kill you.

Posted Sep 06, 2012

Print this out and post it on the fridge or your mirror as a daily reminder that ignoring your instincts and you body's signals can kill you.

There are lots of lessons women can learn from Rosie O'Donnell's heart attack.

By now you've probably heard, seen or read that celeb and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell suffered a heart attack and, essentially, saved her own life. She is 50 years old and struggles with the same health issues that so many of us non-celebrity women struggle with every day.

There is an important lesson here for us all to learn: She is not alive today because she's a wealthy celeb with access and power. She's alive today, after what was reported as a massive cardiac episode, because she remembered what to do (and got lucky...which we all can do, too.)

Cardiac symptoms in women

I want to take us all through what happened and what she did so we can all remember to be mindful of our bodies when they are screaming for us to call 911! As women — and you all know what I'm going to write here — we are trained to put ourselves avoid/ignore/deny/dismiss our own symptoms/health/ discomfort/instincts. Well, let's retrain ourselves. Since everybody depends on us to keep it together, it seems short-sighted not to take Rosie's cardiac incident and learn from it to help us help ourselves. She is generously telling her story, doing the circuit so all women can learn from this.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women

So, according to what O'Donnell wrote in her blog post called, My Heart Attack, she was in a parking lot and heard a woman calling for help. The woman, who was heavy, couldn't get out of her car. Rosie strained and helped pull the lady out.

I'll let her take it from here. (Rosie writes her blog post in poem format):

"a few hours later my body hurt

i had an ache in my chest

both my arms were sore

everything felt bruised

muscular - i thought

strained or pulled tissue

i went about my day”

Read here how what she did next saved her life.

Read lots more on women, health and mothering:

Best Mother's Day Gift? Help Mothers Take Care of Our Health - Give her a 'Mommagram'

Mothering: 10 Tips and Parenting Lessons for the Parent and Child in Us All

Research: Best Mother's Day Gift a Mom Can Give Herself is Kindness

Mothers Days: 9 Stories, Gifts and Lessons of Motherhood

What Mom Really Wants: Witness Protection Mother's Day Getaway

Mother's Days: Grandma's 'Me Time' is a lesson for us all

Let's Celebrate a Working Mom's 'Good Enough' Day

A Letter to Kate Middleton from the Real Housewives of America

Mother's Days: The trouble with mothering bright girls

About the Author

Pam Cytrynbaum

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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