to the club you thought you'd never have to join
Has your imperfect heart made you sad?
Mysogynist heart doc making you mad?
Then welcome to the Unicorn Heart Club!
Until 2017, I had always thought that people who had heart attacks were cigar-chewing white dudes, chubby men with high blood pressure, gnarly cholesterol and a backpack of bad habits.
I knew to the bottom of my Lululemons that I would never, ever have a heart problem. I exercised at least ten hours per week, taught yoga, meditated, and frequently pretended to enjoy kale smoothies. My blood pressure has always been pitch perfect, cholesterol remarkably great, resting heart rate around 55bpm.
However, at the tender young age of 53, I had a series of heart events, including a walking heart attack. Who knew you could multitask -- make breakfast for your kids and have a cardiac arrest? Who knew that the E.R. doctor would dismiss my elevated cardiac enzymes and abnormal EKG and send me home with salad recipes? Who knew that my blocked LAD could be written off as "benign" by a highly-recommended cardiologist?
And I had just barely grasped the concept of a 'benign' heart blockage when I learned that doctors often triage heart patients based on entirely on patient gender. Do you have a penis and chest pain? Let's race you through the ER like cheetah. Wait, you have chest pain but no penis? Sorry, it's probably just hormones, we'll have Nurse Sloth and Dr. Koala get right on that.
As a result of this gender discrimination, women are twice as likely to die of heart disease than men are.
Blatant gender discrimination in cardiac events is so common, it even has a name: The Yentl Syndrome.
Named after the movie Yentl, in which a gal (Barbra Streisand) is only taken seriously after she pretends to be a dude. Meaning: women heart patients are more likely to die from heart disease than men ... simply because we lack a penis. (Oh! if only they'd put "lack of penis" as a cause of death on a death certificate.)
The past coupla years have been bumpy as fuck and then, in the life-gives-you-lemons moment of inspiration, I thought "Hmm, maybe there are other gals who had incompetent doctors! Maybe we could share ideas and help the new pledge class of the Unicorn Heart Club."
I might need to order in some more chairs, though. According to the American
Heart Association, 720,000 people have their first heart attack every year.
That's one first-timer heart attack every 40 seconds.
Unicorn Heart Gal is Tracey Croisier, an author and heart attack survivor living in the Seattle area. She's a passionate, award-winning storyteller, mom to twin girls and school librarian.
Tracey published her yoga memoir in 2007.
She's currently at work on the shocking sequel memoir, The Yoga Teacher's Heart Attack.
And! For NaNoWriMo 2020, she'll be tackling her first fiction book, InnSanity.
Tracey found her tribe at Seattle's Moth StorySLAM in 2014. She's won four StorySLAMS and has had the privilege of telling at Seattle Town Hall, packed to the rafters with 825 story fans. She's also performed at Seattle's Unexpected Productions, Words 'n Music and is a frequent teller at Fresh Ground Stories.