SOCIAL STUDIES How To Save Your Own Life In One Easy Step Alessandra Rizzotti

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The phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” really bugs me. Yes, eat some apples and vegetables, but know that eating healthily won’t necessarily SAVE YOUR LIFE. A year ago today, my boyfriend had to have emergency open heart surgery because he was six months away from having his aorta explode on him. He had been waking up in the middle of the night with extremely sharp back pain and we thought he was just sleeping in a weird way. After the fifth wake-up call, I finally FORCED him to see a doctor, and they told him he had six months to live.

The scary part of this story? My boyfriend KNEW this was coming because when he was sixteen, doctors told him that his heart was bigger than normal and that it was important for him to monitor it. When he got a second opinion, doctors said it was fine and that he didn’t have to worry about it. My boyfriend stopped monitoring his heart, when all this time, he should have gotten a third opinion. My boyfriend learned at age 28 that his third opinion was life-saving.  So, do your research!  Get second, third and even fourth opinions! Trust your body if it’s telling you you’re in pain and SEE AN EXPERT DOCTOR with the finest credentials, even if the person is out of your state. The doctor you choose is incredibly important. For a top-notch heart doctor, see Dr. Stephen Corday in Los Angeles, CA.

Now, when you’re told you have to go through something as serious as open heart surgery, friend and family support is crucial.  Get them be with you while you’re in the hospital, even if they have to fly out!  You don’t want to be facing something like this alone.  And your support system won’t want to be alone in the waiting room while you’re in surgery, so make sure they have a social worker or friend to talk to while waiting.  Luckily, my boyfriend had his amazing mother, stepdad and two sisters fly out, so we had a whole team rooting for him.  You might be incredibly afraid, and your support system will be there to help soothe you.  Seeing a therapist might even help, just to put you in the right mindset.  And yes, there are many risks involved in surgery, but now that there are so many technological advances in the medical industry, as long as you have a specialist taking care of you that is well-known in his/her field, you are good to go.

I just have to say how happy I am that my boyfriend is alive and healthy.  Yes, he has a sock-like material surrounding his aorta to prevent it from expanding, as well as a 16-inch metal bar across his chest to prevent his ribs from caving into his heart, but he is no longer in pain!  Metaphorically speaking, he still has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and now I know that it can’t LITERALLY expand and explode.

If you care about someone in your life and want to make sure they are healthy, make them go to the doctor.  If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while because you lack health insurance or you can’t afford it, please go.  There are so many free resources available to you, just check out the National Association of Free Clinics and find a free clinic near you.  I feel so lucky that my boyfriend is in my life.  He has taught me so much over the last few years (like how to be a caring, unselfish person) and without him, I would probably not eat anything other than mushroom ravioli and spring mix salad from Trader Joe’s.  Stay healthy.  Take care of the people in your life, and check in at least YEARLY on your body.  If you’re good to it, it will be super good to you!

My boyfriend and I at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital!

We celebrated my boyfriend’s recovery by making this music video about piecing his heart back together.  It’s super low-budget, but it was really therapeutic to make.  Check it out HERE.

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  1. Thanks for writing a beautiful article about my heart surgery Bear! I am a lucky man!!!

  2. Incredile story! And why are men so hard-headed with going to the doctor?!

  3. Thanks for sharing that. Some of us just need a kick in the butt to get us going, this served as mine :)