Thursday, September 15, 2005

Stress and Women

I went to get CPR training last night at my health club. It was really interesting, and I'm relieved to have refreshed my memory since age 14 or 15, when I had that encounter with Resusci-Annie. You remember Resusci-Annie. She was that ghastly dummy whose grey, dead lips got swabbed with an alcohol wipe before you blew into them, and her nose was really hard to pinch. Apparently she was full of horrid germs that were impossible to thoroughly clean out, which just fills me with lots of hideous imaginings.

(In case you were wondering, it's not true that she was modelled after the dead daughter of the guy who invented her:

Our instructor, Jack, a cute middle-aged firefighter with a fetching paunch, told us all about heart disease and the symptoms of cardiac arrest and just generally convinced me that a really fast, thorough heart attack is the best way to die (aside from dying in your sleep -- a blessing that was granted my 90-year old grandfather but pretty hard to plan on, whereas plenty of cheeseburgers and cigarettes is a good way to plan on a blow-out heart attack).

Guess what I learned? According to the American Heart Association, lack of exercise is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day in terms of heart health. I looked very smug when he said that, because I have worked out TWICE this week. And probably twice over the entire summer, which makes me a very heart healthy little gal, if you don't count the cigarettes and cheeseburgers. Or the fried clams (if you walk down the length of the entire beach to get them, you can justify them. This is what fat people do, and you have my permission).

Anyway, we also learned that heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women, but women get about ten more years before they clutch their chest and keel. Estrogen may be one factor. But it is now being discovered that that ten year gap is closing, and that stress is the chief factor.

This factoid inspired a really fit, really old guy with a super dark tan (he looked like a Gucci bag, frankly) to comment with great sincerity, "It's because women are working out of the home, and all the stress is killing them."

To which I replied, with equal sincerity, "I know. We should just stay home and die of childbirth, instead, like we used to."
I said it quietly enough that only the two women next to me would hear me. Snorts all 'round.

But really, it all just brings me back around to the point I made way at the beginning of this blog's life (January 2004): Why must Americans treat death as this terrible scourge they've got to eradicate and fast, because human lives are at stake?

All that said, I'm happy to know how to resuscitate someone who has stopped breathing on their own, but I'd better make sure to check DNR orders in my congregation before I go puffing into the mouth of someone who'd have no cause to thank me for it afterward. Not that I think it will happen: I'm far more likely to have occasion to use the Heimlich manuever (we learned that last night, too).

This is the universal sign of choking:

Universal Sign of Choking

If you see someone do this, ask them, "Are you choking?" If they nod, ask, "Can you speak?" If they can speak and cough, let them cough out whatever it is that's choking them. If they can breathe, they'll be alright. You can go to the ER and have whatever it is taken out with forceps, if need be.
If they can't speak and their windpipe is totally blocked that's when you do the Heimlich.

You should learn how to do it on yourself, too, so you don't end up like Mama Cass. Then again, that may be an urban legend, too.


Blogger Chalicechick said...

Re: Cheeseburgers and especially smoking

The world is a better place with you in it, PB.

who doesn't want to tell anybody what to do, but just thought that needed to be said.

Blogger greenseagirl said...

You smoke?
A nice, sudden, massive heart attack is a pretty decent way to die (me and many of my family hope to one day just drop dead from one) but congestive heart failure is a truly awful thing. As is emphysema. And lung cancer. My grandmother died of congestive heart failure. Everyone has to die somehow, but I wish you a better death.
And a long, good life filled with plenty of things you enjoy.
It's terribly sad when people's fear of death prevents them from savoring the honest pleasures of life.
If you enjoy cheeseburgers in moderation, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, especially if you can say grace and eat with gusto rather than feeling guilty about so-called "dietary sins." That's how I approach my occasional hot fudge sundaes.

I wonder if stressing people do over food might be almost as bad as the saturated fat or whatever?

There was a much-sited study with rabbits (you can read about it in Ornish's "Love and Survival") that looked at the connection between physical touch and coronary artery disease. The rabbits were in floor to ceiling cages, all being fed a high cholesterol diet. At the end of the study, only half the rabbits had the expected cardiovascular disease, and the other half had a really mild form.

It turned out that the technician, a petite woman, liked rabbits. Every time she went into the rabbit room she petted the ones she could reach. The rabbits who were petted were actually protected from the artery clogging effects of the cholesterol.

It is thought that humans benefit from petting animals similarly to how those rabbits benefited from being petted. I'm really glad you have a cat.


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