Thursday, January 22, 2015

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says "cardiovascular disease -including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure-is the number one killer of men and women in America." There is a big deal going on around the country in the month of February.

It's called Go Red for Women.

According to The American Heart Association, which created Go Red for Women, it encourages awareness of the issue of women and heart disease, and also encourages action to save lives.

A noble endeavor.

I've written about it before but this time it's Shreveport's turn. I was the keynote speaker in Shreveport at their Go Red for Women luncheon last year.  More on that in a second but first my adventure of a day.

I flew from Orlando to the big airport at Atlanta. We arrived late and if you've ever been to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport you know it has escalators, a Plane Train, numerous terminals, and lots and lots of people. In 2014, it was still the world's busiest airport, and of course the gate where I landed was nowhere near the gate for the flight to Shreveport, so off I went.

At a gallop.

When I  finally got there I learned the flight was delayed an hour. Whew. I found a seat, prepared to wait out the delay with the rest of the crowd. With about five minutes to go...they cancelled the flight. The gate attendant did mention that there was a later flight, and at their Information Counter they'd be happy to put us on that.

The crowd went there en masse...

After waiting in line I got to the counter and was surprised to find out that I was already booked on the flight. Really? Really.  Relieved, I mentioned that I had checked a bag and was told not to worry, the bag would be on the jet. Before I knew it, I was on a flight heading to Louisiana. I had called ahead to tell them I'd be a bit late.  Long story short, at the baggage carousel at the Shreveport airport, a lot of bags came out but mine didn't. It was back in Atlanta.

Deep breath.

The airline said another flight was coming soon and promised to get my bag on it, and bring it to my hotel. Okay. I went to meet, and have dinner with, the women behind Shreveport's Go Red for Women event.

Dinner was great, they were great.

I had never been to Shreveport, but they treated me like I was from there. After a warm welcome and a great meal, I was driven to the hotel.

Time for an Epilogue.
The Women of Shreveport

I was worn out, it had been a long day, and as I checked in, I told the front desk that my bag was coming later that night and to keep it until morning. They assured me they would.

Around one in the morning the phone in my room woke me up with it ringing. It was the front desk telling me my bag had arrived. I can't repeat the words I muttered as I went down to get my luggage, I can only tell you that there I was, at the front desk, either way too late or way too early. You pick. I went back to my room, with my bag, and went back to sleep.

That, my friends, is quite a day.

I didn't know what to expect at the event, but it was better, way better than I imagined. It was a cavalcade of helping, of learning, of be healthy seminars, blood pressure screenings, and booths of all kinds. There were hospital booths, there were healthy eating booths, exercise booths, and on and on. The luncheon was packed, and there was a sea of red as far as the eye could see.

There were umbrellas hanging from the ceiling (a nod to my former life as a CBS weatherman), and there were festive centerpieces at each table. After a healthy lunch I spoke and talked about my stroke and what I've learned since then to help prevent another one. Regular exercise, healthy eating, no smoking, losing weight plus how I dealt with post stroke life. I talked about therapy, driving, controlling your cholesterol, controlling your blood pressure, and regular visits to your doctor.
Prevention is key and all the things I spoke about help you to have a healthier heart. I also said what I always say to stroke survivors, to never give up.

When I was done I'd made 400 new friends.
Lea Desmarteau (l) Chairman of the Go Red for Women Event

I have to say, the trip home was less of an adventure.  Shreveport will always have a special place in my heart. And Go Red's message of spreading heart healthy awareness should have a special place in your heart.

For more information on Go Red for Women

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