At 56 with a thriving private eyebrow feathering practice as well as a full time position in Queensland Health, Liz was enjoying her busy lifestyle, and like many women considered herself ‘too busy to get sick’. Having been on anti-hypertensives for several years, she now acknowledges that feeling terrific and bouncing along with lots of energy and enthusiasm was actually her elevated blood pressure.
Liz never smoked and only very rarely drank a glass of bubbly. The only dietary weakness was a love of dairy products – the full fat kind preferably in yummy cheeses. Despite her family history of heart disease with her father’s death from his first heart attack at 54 years of age, Liz hadn’t acknowledged the personal need to exercise regularly or the fact that she, herself was at risk of heart disease.
On March 26 2008, following a very late shift at the hospital resulting in no sleep and starting work early in the morning, Liz was exhausted. A busy morning, a few mouthfuls of morning tea, followed by more meetings, it wasn’t until 11.30am that she started to feel just plain ‘sick’ all over. Despite trying to ignore it, her body responded with an increasingly compelling centralised chest pain that just wouldn’t go away.
“It wasn’t excruciating but the kind that you take notice of, especially when it radiates to your neck along with a rapid heart rate and the sense of profuse sweating and cold,” Liz said. By this stage she couldn’t ignore it any longer, and told her colleague that she was feeling unwell.
That day Liz suffered myocardial infarction – a heart attack.
Liz took her rehab very seriously and lost 16kgs and now manages her health medically. “Of course the bonus is I can now fit into clothing sizes I haven’t seen for more than 30 years!” In the weeks that followed her heart attack, she made the ongoing commitment to go to the gym – every day walk and later start running. Something she would never have believed possible.
Liz also made other lifestyle changes – she cut her workload significantly and considers herself an informed consumer. She has been able to reduce her medication substantially with attention to diet and exercise and continue to work towards being a healthy woman. “I have a wonderful partner, four children and two grandchildren and enjoy my work, so I run for my life,” she said.