Feb. 16th, 2017

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In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death four days after she suffered a massive heart attack, one thing that was reported by some news outlets was that she had been in “significant distress” on the flight. We don’t know the exact details of this, but in my experience as an EMT, it often means “hysterical woman having a panic attack and thinking she’s dying…*woman dies* …oops, guess she really was dying.” 

It is SO IMPORTANT to remember that many women present in what medicine considers an ‘atypical’ manner for heart attack, but it actually IS typical…for women. Women are more than twice as likely to die from cardiac emergencies, not because our physiology is that much different than men and thus gives us a worse chance at survival (it’s actually better if treated promptly and adequately), but because our symptoms are more likely to go unrecognized or to be dismissed entirely.

Thus, please take a moment to review and pass on this list of cardiac distress symptoms as seen in women: 

Shortness of breath - This is the most common one. If a woman, especially one without prior history of respiratory issues or shortness of breath, seems to be having trouble catching her breath and/or complains of such, pay very close attention. If she continues to feel winded after sitting or laying down, it’s probably time to call for help.

Feeling of impending doom - This can range from a sense of general unease to a full-blown panic attack. This one is extremely important, and is the symptom most commonly disregarded by doctors and hospital staff. If a woman tells you that she feels ‘not quite right,’ or like something terrible is about to happen, or that she’s about to die, LISTEN TO HER FFS. 

Nausea and “indigestion” - Also common. Heart attacks frequently present as a feeling of vague nausea or indigestion, but unlike typical heartburn, antacids and other OTC treatments will not alleviate the symptoms.

Hiccups - Unexplained hiccups, especially if seen with any of the other symptoms listed above, can be indicative of heart muscle that is being acutely or chronically starved of oxygen.  The exact mechanism isn’t known, but it’s thought that the enzymes released by the dying muscle irritate the pericardium and adjacent diaphragm, causing spasms in the healthy muscle. 

Fatigue - This is another commonly seen symptom, and is often overlooked or ignored as just transient tiredness. Many women having a heart attack will complain of feeling “flu-like” symptoms of nausea, sweating, fatigue, and shortness of breath, and they’ll lie down for a nap and never wake up. 

Lightheadedness - A feeling of being lightheaded or about to faint isn’t terribly uncommon in many benign conditions, and many women experience it on a monthly basis. However - be aware when it appears unexpectedly or unexplainedly, and/or with one or more of the other symptoms on this list. 

Sweating (diaphoresis) - Heart attack does funny things to the sympathetic nervous system, which is behind reflexes such as sweating and hiccups. If a lady is experiencing unexplained or excessive sweating, pay attention to anything else that might be going on with her. 

Tingling or numb extremities - A feeling of numbness or “pins and needles” tingling in the extremities can be an important sign that cardiac function is being impaired and those body parts aren’t receiving enough oxygen. 

Peripheral and/or central cyanosis - Often accompanies tingling or numbness, and is considered a later-stage symptom of cardiac distress and heart failure. Finger and toe tips will turn pale or blue first, and lips and gums after that. Important to remember that darker-skinned women may present cyanosis as ashen, grey, or darker purple rather than pale or blue. 

Back pain - Pain between the shoulder blades, in the cervical spine, or even further down in the torso or lumbar region can be a symptom of heart attack. Alone, it isn’t that suspicious, but if it’s unrelenting and presents with any of the other symptoms above, keep a watchful eye on things. 

Classic “crushing” or “tight” chest pain or pressure - Women DO experience this classic pain, too, just not as frequently as men do. This may be due to our higher pain threshold, or differences in blood volume, or maybe we’re just not sure because nobody’s bothered to really study it. Whatever the reason, some women do still experience the crushing or tightening pain, and others may experience less painful pressure or tightness that doesn’t seem to be relieved by anything.

Arm and jaw pain - Another “classic” heart attack symptom, and a bit more common than central chest pain. Unexplained pain in the left arm or shoulder, and on the left side of the neck or jaw, should not be ignored by anyone.

Super important! Heart disease and stroke is the leading cause of death among women–and one of the most preventable. It’s a silent killer. Know the signs!

Rosie O’Donnell has a little song for some of the symptoms

Hot, Exhausted, Pain, Pale, Puke
athousanderrors: from 'Spirited Away' - soot sprites, clutching confetti stars, running about excitedly. (Default)
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I just programmed a google sheet so that I can enter the number of days I’ll be traveling and it will tell me how much of every clothing, toiletry, and miscellaneous item I need to pack. Then when I tell it I’ve packed that number of any given item, it will gray out the item on the list so that I can see what I have left to pack.

Sometimes I do simple shit in spreadsheets and feel like a god. 

Following the theme of spreadsheets..
Definitely going to give this a try! Clever.

I eventually built one for public consumption! You can access it and save yourself a copy here. Or just use mine as reference for your own if you want, all the formulae should be visible. 
athousanderrors: from 'Spirited Away' - soot sprites, clutching confetti stars, running about excitedly. (Default)
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I could be sold on it! Depends on the woman.

One of the aspects of Wednesday’s character – I think of all the Addams Family but her in particular because she’s a young girl – is that she’s not just the outsider, she’s also the voice of outsiders, she’s the speaker for the weird. She’s defiant but with a purpose: she defends the right to be different if different is who you are, when she is literally the person in the family who is most likely to be abused by the outside world for it. 

Morticia and Gomez and Pugsley just ARE weird, in a sort of confident but unconscious way, and Fester struggles with being weird but not always knowing if he wants to be weird, but Wednesday is targeted for being weird and is well aware of it and fights back consciously. Which is why she would never grow up to be, say, a Stepford Wife type of creepy – she’s the antithesis of that conform-or-die mentality, even though the Stepford Wives are 100% a form of horror. 

So I think she would be fine to marry a woman who didn’t apparently fit in at first, because “not fitting in” is who she is and it’s also what she does, aggressively. It’s why she’s instantly so likable, because she wins every fight she gets into about being a weirdo and a lot of us have repeatedly lost that fight. But I also think any woman Wednesday could love would still have to share the Addams family ideals of accepting the Other and unconditional love for family. She’s not going to marry the Queen Bee, she’s not going to marry someone cruel or normalizing, which is the immediate idea of “not like the Addamses”.

But I can see her marrying a woman who’s super awkward or not slim and slinky the way Morticia is and it’s sort of implied Wednesday will be, or even just someone who doesn’t quite get the point of The Aesthetic™ but okay hon, we’ll do the Dark Swing Dance, it’s not like I don’t LIKE the Dark Swing Dance. Or someone who’s really upbeat and cheerful and likes pictures of kittens and fuzzy blankets and wearing bright colors and the entire family is like “What…do you two even talk about” and Wednesday turns to her dad super deadpan and says, “Skeletons” and in the background her fiance-soon-to-be-now-that-she’s-met-the-parents, who also happens to be a forensic anthropologist, just nods super enthusiastically. (True fact, the most cheerful, upbeat person I know used to dig up bodies for a living.) 

And Morticia considers this very carefully and then announces, “It’s time she met Grand Nana Sylph” and they get the shovels and head out to the graveyard. Grand Nana Sylph had the best bone structure of the whole family, and after Wednesday’s Young Woman articulates her, everyone can admire it in the comfort of the parlor!  

And then she wears like, a BRIGHT RED DRESS to the Addams Family Reunion and everyone looks at everyone else in black Victoriana and then back to this ONE PERSON in bright red and thinks to themselves, “It fits. The Aesthetic™ is still served. Wednesday found her a keeper.” 

You guys I have a LOT MORE THOUGHTS about the Addams Family than I expected, wow.


athousanderrors: from 'Spirited Away' - soot sprites, clutching confetti stars, running about excitedly. (Default)

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