Mainers Should Take Heart
This week, the Women Who Run with the Moose (me and my friends Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot and Shirley), took a class in CPR. I know, first Zumba, then CPR. What next?
See, we’d been talking about us girls needing some kind of cause to get behind. “What’s wrong with Zumba?” Rita asked.
“Doesn’t count,” Shirley replied. “It’s too much fun,”.
After mulling it over awhile, we decided our cause should be “women’s heart health.” We’re all women and we all have hearts, right?
Turns out, heart disease is the leading killer of women in the U.S. I lost my grandmother and aunt to heart attacks, and Betty her mother. Dot is battling high cholesterol and Rita high blood pressure. Not to mention the fact I’m an apple shape, which puts me at a higher risk for heart disease because I carry my extra weight in the middle. (The French barrel, we call it in our family.)
Heart health also is a good choice because the disease is something you can work on preventing, not one of those luck of the draw kind of things like cancer or MS. Plus, they have that whole “Go Red for Women” campaign, with the red dress pins, and lots of other nifty red stuff you can buy. Which shouldn’t be confused with the red stuff Oprah bought with Bono when they went shopping together. Those red things go to help women and children in Africa affected with aids. And they have a red ribbon pin. I know, it’s confusing!
Also going for it is the fact that women’s heart health doesn’t have one of those rubber bracelets like Lance Armstrong started with his cancer foundation, and now come in lots of colors for different diseases. None of us girls were up for wearing any rubber bracelets. Let’s face it: they’re just not that attractive.
So, we pledged to exercise more, hence the Zumba. But we also pledged to learn CPR, just in case. The Husbands of the Women Who Run With the Moose (Bud, Smitty, Pat, Tommy, Junior, and my Charlie) are all volunteer firemen here in Mahoosuc Mills. They had to learn CPR as part of their training. I says to the girls, “If something happened to one of us, our husbands would be able to save our lives, but we couldn’t do the same for them. That’s just not right. Plus, we need to know what to do if we’re on one of our field trips and, God forbid, one of us needs first aid or something. We’re not getting any younger. Right now, all we have in our first aid kit are some pre-moistened towelettes, ibuprofen, and chocolate.”
I can’t say everyone was exactly enthused, but eventually they all came around. The fact that the class was being given by the Red Cross in Bangor was an extra incentive: We could make a day of it. Have lunch, do a little shopping.
Now, I bet you’re expecting this big story about how all six of us girls got silly with our CPR dummies, having the time of our lives, practicing mouth to mouth and whatnot. Me, too. Frankly, I thought the class was going to be a lot more fun than it was.
First, we had an overview about basic first aid. The key to that is, don’t panic, delegate, and make sure someone calls 911. Piece of cake. Then, we learned about what to do if someone is choking. But they don’t call it the Heimlich Maneuver anymore. “Which is a good thing,” mutters Shirley, “because that always sounded kind of dirty to me.”
So, if someone is choking, it’s “5 and 5”: five firm pats on the back and then five of them Heimlick-y moves, and repeat until the “foreign substance is dislodged.” This is after you go up to the person and ask them, “Are you choking?” Once they reply “yes” by shaking their head, or as Dottie did, holding up a little piece of paper that read, “No shit, Sherlock!,” then you say, “I know what to do. Is it alright if I help you?” We play-acted all of this stuff like we were auditioning for “Grey’s Anatomy” or something.
Then we moved on to CPR, the whole reason we were there. We were each given a dummy to practice on, but really it was only half a dummy. Which was kind of disconcerting because it looked like we were trying to resuscitate someone who’d been sawed in half by David Copperfield (the magician, not the one in that really long book). Then we were each given latex gloves and a mouth guard, you know, a piece of cloth or paper towel type thing-y with a slit at the mouth (so you don’t catch something, I guess).
Once were all suited up in our biohazard gear, we set to work. Doing the “breath of life” twice, then thirty compressions, then repeat, repeat, repeat. Let me tell you, after two minutes, we were all getting a little dewy. Celeste says, “This counts as my upper body workout for the week.” Then we took a multiple-choice test, which all of us passed with flying colors, and got our little Red Cross card saying we were certified to do CPR for a year. That’s right. After all that work, it’s only good for a year!
Then the instructor asked us if we wanted to buy a key chain with one of them mouth guards in a plastic pouch attached to it. She also suggested we carry latex gloves in our car. “We’d put those in the glove compartment, right?” quips Betty.
Us girls decided that we didn’t need the gloves or the mouth guard because frankly, we’d only be comfortable doing CPR on someone we know. “Preferably, someone we like,” Shirley chimes in.
“I’m all for that,” adds Dottie.
“Agreed,” I says. “With a stranger, our game plan is to remain calm and delegate. Meaning, we tell someone to call 911 and ask if anyone on the scene knows CPR.”
“Unless of course he’s cute,” Celeste adds.
Hands down, we agreed. “Unless he’s cute!”
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here.)