Joanne Shiffman didn’t realize the toll her new business was taking on her. She attributed late-afternoon chest pressure and palpitations, difficulty breathing, and hot flashes to menopause. So even though she is a registered nurse, she ignored them all — until she had a heart attack. The symptoms she dismissed were classic signs of angina, chest pain brought on when the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood.
“I laid down on the floor; I knew this was serious,” she says. “I tried to take my pulse, but I couldn’t get a regular rhythm. I called it ‘erratic,’ but knew it was life-threatening. I thought ‘If I stay here by myself, I’m going to die.’ Then I thought about my grandkids and my children, especially the ones who would struggle the most without me. So I got up.”
She called her husband to let him know what was going on. Then she called a neighbor to take her to the hospital.
“He wanted to call an ambulance, and I said ‘No, let’s just go, but I need to throw up first.’”
After the diagnosis of angina, Shiffman, now 58, began taking medication and manages stress by walking her German shepherd puppy and participating in Community Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program. Then she joined the new Peninsula Wellness Center as soon as it opened.
“I was attracted to the center,” she says, “because it is a beautiful facility, it’s very diverse, and it’s conducive to a healthful environment.”