Thrive [with Heart Disorders]
Thrive SUMMER 2012 [with Heart Disorders]
After suffering two heart attacks in eight years,Andre Martinez is ready to commit to better health
Six months before his second heart attack, 48-year-old Andre Martinez held bragging rights for finishing The Big Mamma Jamma—a 2-pound hamburger, topped with bacon and three types of cheeses, and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and a pound of french fries.
He cleaned his plate in a little more than 10 minutes. He laughed and puffed up his chest for weeks following his conquest. But his heart attack in February 2011 was no joke.
Martinez knew better. In August 2003, he suffered his first heart attack—just three months after his father’s fatal cardiac event. At the time, he was caring for ill family members, working midnights, coaching soccer, tending to household duties and trying to uphold a positive disposition for his four children.
“I wasn’t getting enough rest. I was eating bad—eating too much,” Martinez recalls. “It wasn’t that I was inactive. I was just way out of shape.”
A heart stent was inserted, and Martinez knew he had to make drastic changes in his lifestyle. “Having that first heart attack really made me think about my life,” he says. “You take more time to appreciate the smaller things, like making someone smile and having meaningful relationships.”
Back to the Burger
A heart attack is a wake-up call for some, and a chance to hit the snooze button for others. Following his first attack in 2003, Martinez tried to focus on losing weight and exercising.
“I’ve always been the heavy eater in my family,” he says. “I took the challenge to eat The Big Mamma Jamma because I knew I could do it—no problem. You know, you brag on it when you’re doing it, but—”
“It really is just a heart attack on a plate,” Martinez’s wife, Kim, says, finishing his sentence.
The night before his second attack, Martinez and his wife attended a party. Two hours after going to bed, Martinez knew something was wrong. “It was similar to the first time, but not as bad,” he says. “I took a couple of aspirin and waited to see if that achy feeling would subside. It didn’t. I called 911, let Kim know what was going on, and I reclined with my feet elevated until [the ambulance] got there.”
The Second Time Around
Martinez admits that he may have taken the first warning a little too lightly. Now, however, he is determined not to make the same mistake.
“Everybody looks for a quick fix, but that only works temporarily,” he says. “I work out at Parrish Health & Fitness four to five times a week, but with the insight of knowing that it’s more important to maintain a consistent routine.”
Kim adds, “We also try to eat our food in a controlled atmosphere, like at home. We eat large, satisfying portions of things like salad with grilled chicken.”
And, of course, The Big Mamma Jamma is not on the menu.
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Be a Better Patient
Getting involved in your own care is good for your health
Sure, it’s your doctor’s job to take care of you and your health, but you have a role to play, too. You can ensure you’re getting the best possible care by being an active member of your healthcare team.
A collaborative relationship with your doctors is key, as is properly preparing for every appointment. Try these tips to make the most of each visit with your doctor.
You know your own body best. Tell your doctor everything you think is important about your health history and any current symptoms. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from telling your doctor something.
Keep a health history of surgeries, injuries and serious illnesses, as well as notable health problems, such as cancer and heart disease, in close relatives. Keep the list up to date and bring it to each doctor’s appointment. Also bring a list of all your medications—including dosages and when and how you take them. (Don’t forget about supplements.) Better yet, tote along your medicine bottles.
Write down questions before your appointment, starting with the most important ones. Ask your doctor to better explain anything you don’t understand. Take notes or bring someone with you to the appointment to help you keep the facts straight.
It’s especially important to ask questions if your doctor finds a previously undiagnosed health condition, wants to perform tests, recommends surgery or puts you on a new medication.
At the end of your appointment, don’t hesitate to say you need more time for questions. If your doctor isn’t available, try to speak to a nurse or physician’s assistant. Don’t let your questions go unanswered.
Go Home & Follow Up
Before you leave the doctor’s office, ask for written instructions about new prescriptions or recommendations.
Once you’re home, call your doctor’s office if you have questions, if your symptoms get worse or if you have problems with your medicine. Also call if your doctor performed tests but you don’t get the results within a few days. If your doctor recommended tests or referred you to a specialist, make an appointment. Be sure the results are shared with your primary care physician and other doctors.
Taking care of your health is a daily responsibility, especially if you have a chronic condition such as heart disease or high blood pressure. Doing your part—at home and at the doctor’s office—can help you stay in the best of health.
Call 321-268-6808 to schedule a meeting with Helen Duane, LCSW-R. Healing Circles Therapy Groups meet at the Parrish Healthcare Center at Port St. John, 5005 Port St. John Parkway.
[Q&A] Circles of Support
By finding common ground, group therapy helps you work through everyday challenges
What do these therapy groups do?
Healing Circles Therapy Groups bring people together to talk about, and learn to cope with, similar struggles. We use strategies that have been proven for avoiding the pitfalls that often accompany these challenges.
What kinds of therapy groups do you offer?
We have three therapy groups, but we also see patients one-on-one.
• Chronic Disease/Pain and Stress Management Circle provides people who have chronic pain and disease the opportunities to learn coping skills.
• “Weigh” Out Circle helps those who battle obesity learn effective strategies for designing a successful weight-loss and maintenance plan.
• Stress Less Circle provides skills to better manage daily pressures. It can benefit anyone who has stress; however, it may be particularly helpful for those facing new challenges such as divorce, job loss and shift in circumstances.
Why should I share my challenges in a therapy group?
Participants learn from the group setting. There are many common threads. It often becomes a great support network.
What if I’m not comfortable talking in front of others?
There is a stigma about therapy that something is wrong with you. But for most people, there is more right with them than wrong. These groups help participants see the good that is there and build on that.
Ask Me 3: Communicate Your Way to Better Health
Parrish Medical Center has joined with the National Patient Safety Foundation to present Ask Me 3, an education program designed to promote communication between healthcare providers and patients to improve health results. Patients are encouraged to ask their providers these three simple but essential questions in every healthcare interaction:
1. What is my main problem?
2. What do I need to do?
3. Why is it important for me to do this?
Studies show that people who understand health instructions make fewer mistakes when they take their medicine or prepare for medical procedures. They may also get well sooner or be able to better manage chronic health conditions.