Broken Heart Syndrome

“You can die of a broken heart — it’s scientific fact — and my heart has been breaking since that very first day we met. I can feel it now, aching deep behind my rib cage the way it does every time we’re together, beating a desperate rhythm: Love me. Love me. Love me.”
Abby McDonald, Getting Over Garrett Delaney

I recently learned about broken heart syndrome when Dr. Marla Shapiro was talking about it on TV. She mentioned that it was first described in 1990 in Japan as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.  Takotsubo is a Japanese term for an octopus trap because of the ballooning shape of the heart during an attack. What is broken heart syndrome?  It is a temporary heart condition caused by an extremely stressful event.  It is a recently recognized heart problem and it can strike you even if you are healthy.

People with broken heart syndrome think that they are having a heart attack when they have a sudden chest pain.  In broken heart syndrome, there is a temporary disruption of the heart’s normal pumping function while the rest of the heart functions normally or with more forceful contractions.

There may be shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats (Arrhythmias) or cardiogenic shock can occur. Cardiogenic shock occurs when a suddenly weakened heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.  This can be fatal it it is not treated right away.  In fact, Cardiogenic shock is the most common cause of death among people who die from heart attacks.  Any time you experience chest pain, you should call 911 and get emergency medical care.  All chest pain should be checked by a doctor.

Women are more likely than men to have broken heart syndrome.  It can be brought on by the death of a loved one, divorce, a break-up, physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection, a frightening medical diagnosis, domestic abuse, natural disasters, job loss, asthma attack, car accident or major surgery.  It can even occur after a good shock such as winning the lottery.  It is more commonly seen among post-menopausal women. Research is ongoing to find out what causes this disorder and how to diagnose and treat it.

As mentioned before the most common symptoms of broken heart syndrome are chest pain, shortness of breath and very rapid or irregular heartbeat.  WebMD mentions two other symptoms, arm pain and sweating.  It is usually treatable.  Most people who experience it have a full recovery within weeks and and the risk of it happening again is low although in some rare cases it can be fatal.  The only way you can be certain if you have broken heart syndrome is for you to have some tests.  These tests used include the following:

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Blood tests
  • Coronary angiogram

If you have any questions about Broken Heart syndrome, please visit Seconds Count and download their PDF file.

A broken heart is a real condition.   In 2010 the Wall Street Journal wrote an article of a 63 year old woman named Dorothy Lee who lost her husband on night when they were driving home from a Bible Study group.  He had suffered from a heart attack.  At the hospital after she learned of his death, Dorothy began to experience sudden sharp pains in her chest, felt faint and went unconscious.  An X-ray angiogram revealed that she hadn’t suffered a heart attack.  There was no blood clot and her coronary arteries were completely clear. Dorothy had suffered from broken heart syndrome.  It was triggered by the sudden loss of her husband of 40 years.  She was literally heartbroken.  Thankfully, she was at the hospital when she had her symptoms and she didn’t die although the episode severely weakened her heart.  She required a special balloon pump to support her left ventricle during the first couple of days in the hospital.  Five days later she was discharged.  Despite being cautioned by doctors, she attended her husband’s funeral. She was able work through her grief positively and spiritually.   To date she has had no effects of the heart episode.

It is extremely important that if you or someone else experience any chest pain that you don’t ignore it or feel embarrassed to call for help.  At the first sign of symptoms, get help. This can save your life or someone else’s life and limit the damage to the heart.

A broken heart is not just something out of a romance novel.  It is a reality.



broken heart syndrome


Sources:  American Heart Association; Mayo Clinic; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; Wikipedia; Women Heart; WebMD; Uptodate

Women and Postpartum Depression

For 1 in 8 women, new motherhood is anything but joyous –

Mother In Nursery Suffering From Post Natal Depression

Postpartum depression is a very real and very serious problem for many mothers. It can happen to a first time mom or a veteran mother. It can occur a few days… or a few months after childbirth – Richard J. Codey

Recently on the news I saw that Drew Barrymore admitted that she suffered from postpartum depression after she had her second daughter.  It was a short-lived experience.  It lasted about six months. She was grateful for the experience because it was a constant reminder to stay present in the moment.  Her motto was, “one thing at a time.”

I have heard quite a bit about postpartum depression but this time I wanted to educate myself about it and my heart was touched by the experiences women go through.  First of all, I want to point out that it’s a real and serious condition.   I was appalled at how women with postpartum depression were treated.  Stigma, disbelief and lack of support from others prevent them from getting the treatment they desperately need.  So, they suffer in silence.  How terrible it is for a woman who has images of her child drowning in the bathtub or being smothered on his burp cloth, fearing for her sanity but is afraid to say anything so she keeps it from her husband for as long as she could. And how sad it is that a woman should feel judged for taking antidepressants for postpartum depression because of the mistaken belief that depressed mothers are self-centered and weak.

Women who have postpartum depression feel a triple whammy of the stigma reserved for people with mental illnesses.  Not only are they brought down by what many expect to be the happiest even in a woman’s life–the birth of a child–but also total honesty about their emotional state could invite scorn or even a visit from social services (  

“We’re suffering from an illness that cannot be seen.  We don’t have a fever, swelling, vomiting, or diarrhea.  No open wounds that will not heal–at least not the kind you can see with the naked eyes.  So, many wonder if we’re really sick at all – Katherine Stone

Psychologist Shoshana Bennett, founder and director of Postpartum Assistance for Mothers endured two life-threatening postpartum depressions in the mid-1980s, at the time when help for women in her condition was hard to find.  “I was quite suicidal.  My doctor told me to go and get my nails done,” Bennett recalls.  Can you imagine going to your doctor because you are feeling suicidal and being told to go and get your nails done?  It didn’t help that she had an unsympathetic mother-in-law who, believe it or not, had been a postpartum nurse for years.  The mother-in-law had given birth to five children and had not suffered from baby blues with any of them.  When Bennett’s husband asked his mother what was wrong with his wife, her response was, “She’s spoiled.  It’s not just about her anymore.”

Bennett’s husband was angry, confused and upset with her.  Bennett hated herself and things got worse after her first child was born.   She was 40 pounds overweight and very depressed.  She went to her ob-gyn for help.  When she told him, “If life’s gonna be like this, I don’t wanna be here.”  His response?  He laughed and said that all women go through this.  So, there was Bennett, suffering from postpartum depression, with no support or help.  It was her own experience that motivated her to become a licensed therapist, specializing in postpartum depression so that she could counsel women who are going through what she did.

Sometimes women are given medications with terrible side effects.  Katherine Stone experienced this when the first psychiatrist she went to treated her with four or five medications.  She had to find a practitioner who specialized in the treatment of postpartum mental disorders.  She discovered the hard way that no all psychiatrists are experts in treating postpartum depression. “So many psychiatrists don’t understand the condition, don’t have the tools to treat this, and aren’t trained in varying ways in which women with this disorder need to be cared for,” she says.

It is recommended that you ask your ob-gyn, nurses and social workers if the hospital in which you delivered offers postpartum depression services or sponsors support groups for new moms. Ruta Nonacs, MD, Associate Director of the Center for Women’s Health at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, recommends, “Call Postpartum Support International (800-944-4773) to find a support group near you.  I also recommend seeing your family doctor.  They’re treating people with depression all the time and can also help with referral to a therapist.”

How can you tell that you have postpartum depression?  There are three postpartum conditions – baby blues, depression and psychosis.  Here are the symptoms outlined by Mayo Clinic:

Postpartum baby blues symptoms

Signs and symptoms of baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

Postpartum depression symptoms

Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin later — up to six months after birth.

Postpartum depression symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

Postpartum psychosis

With postpartum psychosis — a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after delivery — the signs and symptoms are even more severe. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.

For more information such as when to see a doctor, what your options are or how you can help a friend or a loved one, click on this link.

Why do some women suffer from postpartum depression while others don’t?  According to Marcie Ramirez, Middle Tennessee coordinator for Postpartum Support International, “People with a history of mental illness have a high risk, as do people on either end of the age spectrum–young mothers or older mothers.  If you have a history of minor depression, panic attacks, or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), you are at a higher risk for postpartum depression.  A mother who experiences a traumatic birth is more likely to develop postpartum depression, as are new mothers who have a history of sexual abuse.  Bipolar disorder is a big indicator for postpartum psychosis, a very serious form of postpartum depression that affects about 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 new moms.”

Other predictors of postpartum depression are:

  • marital difficulties
  • stressful life events such as financial problems or loss of a job
  • childcare stress
  • inadequate social support
  • having to are for a child with a difficult temperament
  • low self-esteem
  • unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
  • being single
  • lower socioeconomic status
  • postpartum blues (

An article in the Daily Mail says that a woman’s risk of post-natal depression increases if she has a Caesarean section.  According to researchers, women were 48 per cent more likely to experience depression if they had a planned procedure rather than an emergency one.  Some women choose to have a Caesarean because they are afraid to give birth naturally, have had a previous childbirth trauma or want the convenience of a scheduled delivery.

Postpartum depression should be taken seriously.  Women are so overcome with fear and anxiety that they are afraid to be in the same room with their babies.  This affects them being able to bond with their babies which is vital to their development.  Women need to talk about their feelings, no matter how painful they are.  They need the support of their husbands and families.  “A functioning, healthy mom is vital to the family unit, and getting mothers with postpartum depression professional help can ensure that they avoid years of needless depression,” says Ramirez.

Advice for mothers who are experiencing depression is, “do what’s best for yourself so you can do what’s best for your baby” (    Ann Dunnwold, PHD, a Dallas-based psychologist who specializes in postpartum depression, says, “The key is to have it on your own terms.  Sometimes the mother-in-law will come over to be with the baby, but what the new mom needs is for her to do the laundry.  To help, everyone needs to ask themselves what the mom really wants.”

There is hope for women suffering from postpartum depression.  The key is finding a health professional who specializes in treating it and who won’t brush you off or make light of it.  There are medications and treatments that can relieve or even reverse postpartum mood disorders. Don’t wait to get help.  Don’t suffer in silence.  Speak up.

If you know a woman who is going through postpartum depression or are married to one, please help out as much as you can.  Make sure that she gets enough sleep and encourage her to speak with her healthcare provider.  Encourage her to get some kind of support.

If you are suffering from postpartum depression, here is a list of postpartum depression support groups.  Perhaps reading stories of mothers going through what you are going may help. You’re not alone.   Help and hope are available for you.

Mature woman gives solace to crying adult daughter

Mature woman gives solace to crying adult daughter

Sources: Clinic; Baby Center; Postpartum Depression Progress;; Daily Mail; Brainy Quotes; Healthscope

Pregnant Women And Jogging

This evening I was watching a news story about pregnant women and jogging and was surprised to learn that one of the women featured was nine months pregnant.  I couldn’t imagine jogging so close to having a baby.  At nine months I was waddling and anxious to give birth.  The woman on TV looked fantastic.  She was in great shape.  This was her ninth pregnancy.  Another woman received nasty comments because of a picture of her jogging while pregnant.  She was called “selfish” and one person went as far as saying that child services should be called.

Is it safe for to run during pregnancy?   I read on the Baby Centre website that it depends. If you ran regularly before getting pregnant, it’s fine to continue — as long as you take some precautions and first check with your doctor or midwife.

But pregnancy isn’t the time to start a running routine, according to Julie Tupler, a registered nurse, certified personal trainer, and founder of Maternal Fitness, a fitness program for pregnant women and new moms in New York City.

Pregnancy’s also not the time to start training for a marathon, a triathlon, or any other race, cautions Tupler. “The first trimester is when the baby’s major organs are forming, and overheating’s a real issue. If a woman’s core temperature gets too high, it could cause problems with the baby, so why risk it? Instead, train for the marathon of labor by strengthening your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles,” she says.

Whether you’re pregnant or not, running can be hard on your knees. During pregnancy, your joints loosen, which makes you more prone to injury. So unless you’re an avid runner, you should probably steer clear of this form of workout at least until after your baby arrives. For now, focus on exercises that are safe for pregnancy.

What are the benefits of running during pregnancy?

According to Zara Watt, who specialises in training for pre- and postnatal fitness, “Research and statistics show that women who exercise during pregnancy avoid unnecessary health risks to themselves and their unborn babies, and experience less labour pain because exercise has strengthened their muscles. They also have lower fat content and, more importantly, achieve a faster recovery following the birth of their baby. I’ve worked with pregnant women who also believe that regular exercise during pregnancy helped them with muscular tension, aches and pains, posture and circulation.”

On the Baby Centre website, the benefits of running during pregnancy are:

– It is a quick and effective way to work your heart and body, giving you a mental and physical boost when you feel tired.

– It’s easy to fit into your schedule.

They offer the following tips for each trimester:

First trimester tips

Follow the usual precautions, such as drinking lots of water before, during, and after your run. Dehydration can decrease blood flow to the uterus and may even cause premature contractions.

Wear shoes that give your feet plenty of support, especially around the ankles and arches. Invest in a good sports bra to keep your growing breasts well supported.

Second trimester tips

Your center of gravity’s shifting as your belly grows, leaving you more vulnerable to slips and falls. For safety, stick to running on flat pavement.

If you lose your balance, do your best to fall correctly, says Tupler: Try to fall to your side or on your behind, to avoid trauma to the abdomen. Or put your hands out to break your fall before your abdomen hits the ground.

Consider running on a track as your pregnancy progresses. Not only is the track surface easier on your joints, but you may feel safer running somewhere where you won’t get stranded in case of an emergency.

Third trimester tips

Be as careful as you’ve been during the first two trimesters. And remember: If you feel too tired to go for a run, listen to your body and take a break. Being sedentary is unhealthy, but pushing yourself too hard is also harmful.

Most avid runners find that their jogging pace slows down considerably during the third trimester — a fast walk may be a better choice as your due date approaches.

Warning signs

Never run to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. Pushing yourself to the limit forces your body to use up oxygen that should be going to your baby.

Stop running or jogging immediately and call your doctor or midwife if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • difficulty breathing, especially when resting
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • chest pain
  • muscle weakness
  • calf pain or swelling
  • preterm labor (contractions)
  • decreased fetal movement
  • fluid leaking from your vagina

In the news story, a medical doctor warned that if you are panting too hard, that means that the baby is not getting enough oxygen.  I suggest that you check with your doctor before jogging or doing any kind of activity.   If you don’t think it’s a good idea to jog during pregnancy, that’s fine but don’t judge a woman who decides that it’s something she wants to do.  It doesn’t make her selfish or unfit to be a mother.  She is trying to stay in shape and would never knowingly endanger her unborn child.

If you are interested in learning more about jogging during pregnancy, check out this site for guidelines.

Women and Money

I thought it would be interesting to find out some facts about women and money especially as I used to spend, spend, spend money on clothes, shoes, books and Bibles.  I have so many Bibles.  The clothes I bought I had to donate because they couldn’t fit me.  I had to get new clothes when I became pregnant.  I had to get Employment insurance when I went on mat leave.  I am still paying off my VISA debts.  I had planned to buy new clothes and shoes which I really need but will have to wait until the next time I get paid because I have to pay the rent.

Being in debt makes me feel  a bit overwhelmed sometimes and find myself longing for the days when I used to be able to pop into my favorite stores and buy what I needed.  I needed tips on how to stay on top of my debts until they are all paid off and came across these 8 must-follow tips from the Women in Red online community for reducing debt by M.P. Dunleavey.


Face Up to What You Owe Financial solvency starts with fearless honesty. So sit down and tally every last dime.


Set Up an Emergency Fund
Having backup savings will help keep you from going further into the red.


Repay Aggressively
A good online debt calculator (like the one on lets you run “what if” scenarios with different repayment amounts and deadlines. Choose a plan that’s more demanding than you’d like.


Track Your Money
It’s duller than eating Weetabix for breakfast, but keep a spending diary for at least two weeks. What you’ll learn: why and how your cash is leaking away.


Inspire Yourself
Visualize your post-debt life, when you will be able to use your money for some interesting or more important things.


Go On a Cash-Only Diet
It’s a known law of financial physics: Plastic attracts debt. So cut up all your credit cards (except one, for emergencies), and when you buy, spend actual money.


Pay Bills More Often
Many Racers make debt payments two or even four times a month. This pares down principal faster and reduces interest, too.


Adopt a “No Excuses” StrategyYou may not want to take on a weekend job or sell your grandmother’s jewelry — but maybe you should. Do whatever it takes to succeed. You’ll thank yourself when your debt load shrinks

Right now I have one credit card which I can’t use because I am trying to pay off the debt I still owe.  I am using cash only to buy what I need.  I am really trying to conserve and only buy things that are essential.   I have enough clothes for now and I can survive on three pairs of shoes although one pair looks worn.  I have my moments of discouragement and a sense that I will never get out of debt but then I get suggestions from my fiance and I feel optimistic.  Right now I am looking into an option he suggested to me.  Hopefully it will work.

If you are in debt, don’t be discouraged.  Just focus on paying off your debts using these tips.

One Woman’s Dream

Di Barrong is the founder of Bags of Love, a charitable organization which provides bags to the various community agencies that serve the needs of  children in those scary days between being taken from their own homes and being placed in more permanent foster care.  In her own words,  she shares how this organization came about.

A number of years ago, a dream began for me that I needed to find a way to help the children being removed from their homes and being placed into foster care.  The children I observed being placed into an emergency foster home came with next to nothing in the line of possessions.  I felt something needed to be done to help with that particular situation.  I worked on this dream for about ten years before an idea was presented that I felt would work and be the best solution.

I was approached by a group called “Its My Very Own.”  I received their manual and considered their program.  It became clear after doing some research that this was in general a good project but it needed to be revised to meet the needs of our area.  So, first of all, I chose the name of Bags of Love and filed with the State of Oregon to become a corporation on May 1, 2008.  Next Bags of Love, Inc. filed for non-profit status.  We filed on June 3, 2008, and it was official at the end of October.  We received our status as a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.

Initially,we contacted DHS and they had bags that were supplied by a church that they used and were not interested in our bags.  That was a blow, but we then began to contact local agencies that might have a need such as Relief Nursery, Head Start, Birth-to-3, Child Center, Womenspace, and many more.  In talking with this group of agencies, if we could meet their need for the bags with the number of children they deal with, we needed 300 bags a month.  Obviously that is an unattainable statistic.

This brings us to where we are now.  We currently get out 50 to 75 bags a month, at a cost of approximately $75 a bag.  The items within the bags are partially donated.  However, with the support of numerous volunteers, Bags of Love, Inc. manages to keep putting bags in the hands of children that need them.

We recently moved into a new building that will allow the charity to grow and provide better service.  We are located at 3910-A West 1st Street, Eugene, OR  97402.  We have a new number, 541-357-4957.  With the added space, we have added the number agencies we can serve as well as the number of volunteers who can work with us at any one time.  We currently pull group volunteers from such groups as Levi Strauss, LeDoux Insurance, Kiwanas, etc.

The charity has grown so fast that we now have an Executive Board, a Board of Directors, and many sponsors, donors, and volunteers.  Each are unpaid and do it with love from their hearts for these children.  That is what Bags of Love, Inc. is about:  Helping children in crisis one Bag of Love at a time.

The bags are hand sewn, a nice, personal touch and a far cry from the garbage and plastic bags carried by the children who changed Di’s life.  Each stitch is made in love, something these children craved and found in these bags.  They are filled according to the needs of boys or girls within the age ranges of Birth-1, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.  Based on the age and sex of the child, the bag may contain soap or baby wash, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, combs and brushes. Disposable diapers, fire-retardant pajamas, socks and underwear are also in the bags.

“We include a stuffed animal, an age- and gender-appropriate toy, school supplies, coloring books and crayons. Every bag, regardless of age or gender, includes a beautiful handcrafted quilt. Everything in each bag stays with the child, regardless of their placement, to give them a sense of security and belonging.”

When I expressed my appreciation to Di for the work she has been doing for these kids and that she is a blessing to them, she was quick to inform me that she was the one who was blessed.  It is rewarding for her to show these kids that someone cares about them and that they are not throwaways.

Di’s dream has transformed so many lives.  She is helping children in crisis one bag of love at a time.  If you are interested in helping Di, please visit