Alpha News

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The Month of Love

February…the month of love. The month of valentines, and cupid, and love, and hearts. Hearts. Hearts everywhere. Chocolate hearts, sugar hearts, cream filled hearts, gummy hearts and every other kind of heart you can imagine.

But for me, those hearts make me think of my dad. 5 years ago my parents spent am amazing week of vacation with family here in Massachusetts. My dad, a grandpa to 2 amazing girls, spent time with his grand children and we enjoyed pool time, cooking out, eating lobster, telling family stories and having a memorable vacation. Little did I know that when my parents left that hot July morning, in one week my dad would have a massive heart attack that would eventually take his life. When I see hearts I remember his red heart pillow they gave him in the hospital after open heart surgery. I remember thinking how cute that pillow was. Then I learned its purpose was not to be cute. Its purpose was to help heal, it was a pillow to hug during recover when coughing or struggling to breath to help contain the pain as the ribs had been cracked open during emergency surgery.
For me, that’s what I see in February when I see hearts all around. That used to be a sad thing but I am working on making that a good thing.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that February is not only the month of love and valentines and chocolate and roses, but it is the month known as National Heart Health Month. I decided my mission in February would be to join the fun and craziness of hearts, but not for chocolate or candy hearts but instead for the most important hearts – those we are given that make us live and breathe, those hearts that we have a responsibility to care for.
I don’t know if having his blood pressure checked in the months before his heart attack would have saved my dads life, but I do know this: it certainly wouldn’t hurt. It wouldn’t hurt to have had it checked, perhaps some warning signs would have arisen, but it also wouldn’t have hurt. Having your blood pressure checked is painless, it is quick, and it is a huge step in loving your heart and your health. Better yet, it is usually free! Almost all pharmacies now have a blood pressure machine that is free and simple to use. Next time you are out and about and you see a blood pressure device take the extra 3 minutes and sit and breathe deep and have your blood pressure checked. Odds are good it will be fine and you will feel really good about being on top of your health! But maybe, just maybe, the numbers will be a little high and you will feel compelled to reach out to your doctor. Heart disease can be prevented and controlled.
I have often heard people say “I would die for my children” or “I love my family to death”. Certainly, we can all agree with those statements. We do love our families. Hopefully we love them enough to not only die for them, but to live for them. Staying healthy, being active, having regular blood pressure screenings and having annual physicals are all ways we care for ourselves and in turn care for our families.
Give yourself a gift of love this February…have your blood pressure checked.