Marie Shaffer of Rockton went home from work on Saturday in October 2005 after a 12-hour shift at DuBois Regional Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit. She went out for a while and went to bed by 11 p.m.
That is when she felt a “funny fluttering” in her chest, she said. “It was something I never had before.”
The feeling was strange enough that she was enough that she was afraid to lie down to sleep. She woke up her husband, and he took her to DRMC – this time as a patient.
“I don’t know what made me want to come in to the ER (emergency room),” Shaffer said. The last time she was a patient in the hospital was when she had her children. She was the type of person who only went to see her doctor only if she really had to. “You worry about your kids not yourself,” she said.
That Monday, she had a heart catheterization to clear a blockage. That alone would not solve the problem. She went home Tuesday, got new PJs and came back Friday for open-heart surgery, a triple bypass.
Everyone was surprised, she said, including the other women she worked with. They all thought she was healthier than they were.
DuBOIS – It is for women like Marie Shaffer, their families and friends that the Women’s Health Center and the Heart Center, both services of DuBois Regional Medical Center, host Day of Dance for Health from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 23, at the DuBois Mall.
Women are more likely not to pay attention to heart care and their health in general. They are usually focused on their families and busy schedules – not themselves.
Women are different than men. They don’t always have the classic symptoms for heart problems, including heart attacks.
“Heart disease risks or heart attack symptoms can be overlooked and viewed as related to a woman’s busy lifestyle or as normal with the change of life and every day stressors,” Lori Rancik, case manager at the Women’s Health Center, said.
“This is one of the reasons we are taking action to educate women about their risks for heart disease and hoping women take action for themselves.”
Few women know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. Its risk factors include:
• High blood pressure;
• Tobacco use;
• Having diabetes;
• Having a carotid or any artery disease;
• Having high cholesterol;
• Physical inactivity;
• Being overweight and obese;
• Having a family history of heart disease.
“Getting the information to women is important. Women need to know their risks as well as what questions they can ask their doctors to identify and work to lower their risk,” Rancik said.
“More importantly, women can see that they are not alone in their health challenges. There can be many fun ways to work together with other women in the community to lower their risk and it can start with dancing.”
The Day of Dance will offer information that can help women lead healthier lives, but it will be presented in a fun way.
This year, there will be two stages set up for dance demonstrations. Bring your dancing shoes if you like. There will be space for the dancers to give instruction and let the audience become participants, if they choose. Steve Pompeii of DuBois, a heart transplant recipient, will be a deejay at the event.
Giving demonstrations this year are the Punxsutawney Groundhog Polka Club, Country Crew Line Dancers of DuBois, Kathy’s School of Dance, Curwensville, who will clog; Marcy’s School of Dance, DuBois, who will do ballet and jazz; Mahoning Valley Ballet, Van Dyke & Co. of Punxsutawney and DuBois will perform stretch and flex demos, Randa Rahbar’s Oasis Dance Class Zabaharani dancers of DuBois with belly dancing how-to, Dr. Ed McVay of DuBois, ballroom dancers; Starlettes School of Twirling & Dance, Frenchville, tap; and Shaw & Ghaner School of Dance of Philipsburg will perform hip-hop/lyrical dances.
There will also be a healthy cooking demonstration held in the site next to the Deb Shop. Chef Marla Sierzega, executive chef at DRMC, will prepare simple and tasty foods. Seats will be available to watch her cook. Samples will be offered along with the recipes.
The DRMC pharmacy department will offer information about drug interactions and keeping your drug list. Visitors are welcome to bring their medicines to have help making sense of it.
Across from Waldenbooks and Mr. Tool, several departments will be offering presentations throughout the day.
In between all of the demonstrations will be DRMC physicians and staff ready to talk about healthy issues. A “meet-the-physician” table will manned by various doctors. More than 20 displays from various DRMC departments and physician offices will be set up for visitors to get information and ask questions.
Also, organizations affiliated with DRMC will be on site. There will be blood donor information from the American Red Cross Blood Services and prematurity awareness information will be available from the March of Dimes.
DuSan and DuBois EMS ambulance services will be offering free blood pressure screenings. Cen-Clear Child Services will provide health-related children’s activities with the help of some costumed characters. Stat MedEvac will be on hand with information, and weather permitting, the helicopter may be on-site.
While all of this is going on at the DuBois Mall, more than 60 other hospitals will be doing similar events throughout the country.
DRMC is a member of the Spirit of Women Network, a group of hospitals that use the Spirit of Women programs and ideas to motivate women to make positive changes in their lives by emphasizing total well-being of mind, body and spirit.
Women will have the opportunity to register with the Women’s Health Center of DuBois to be members of the Spirit of Women. Current members can check in at the registration tables to receive credit and receive their free gifts.
Spirit of Women members will receive information about staying well throughout the year and opportunities to enjoy other fun but healthy events. The Women’s Health Center of DuBois can be reached at 371-WOMN (9666).
Shaffer battles her risk factors for heart problems by making changes. Her diet includes less fats and more salads, chicken, turkey. She quit smoking, and she exercises three times a week.
Her heart health has a lot to do with hereditary, too, she said, but the other factors that she could control – diet, smoking and exercise – play a big part.
She may have always put her family first, but by taking care of herself, she plans to be around for them even longer. Giving attention to the body’s signals and following a healthy lifestyle can pay off.