Mika Leah - GIFT OF COMPASSION
Mika is the CEO of the Goomi Group and a member of the board of directors for the American Heart Association in Los Angeles. She is a young survivor who is passionate about living a healthy life – physically and emotionally.
Three weeks after my 33rd birthday, I found myself being wheeled into emergency heart surgery. The left main artery of my heart was blocked at 98% - what the experts call the widow-maker.
They sent me home two days later with three heart stents implanted. The following day I went for a short walk around the block, and the weight of what happened hit me like a truck. I was lucky to be alive. Had I not pushed for a heart stress test in the few days before surgery, then I may have walked out of my cycle class that Sunday and literally would have dropped dead on the gym floor.
Heart disease wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I was in my early thirties, I ate right, I rarely drank, my cholesterol was normal, my BMI was healthy – I weighed 118 at a height of 5’2, and I was an athlete that taught spin classes every Sunday. It was sinking in that I had been diagnosed with a “disease”- something killing me on the inside. Because I looked normal, it was a silent sickness and I felt lonely in my diagnosis.
One week after surgery, I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance – alone. Strapped to the gurney, lights flashing, I lay there and couldn’t stop crying. Paramedics assured me I would be ok, but I wasn’t worried about whether I lived or died. I was worried what would happen to my 1-year old little baby girl and my 2-year-old baby boy if I died. The thought of leaving them in a world alone was terrifying me to tears.
The next morning, I called my husband and asked if he could pick me up from the hospital (since I went there in an ambulance). He told me that he was too busy at work and he didn’t have time to come to the hospital and drive me home. The loneliness that I felt in that moment would have brought me to my knees if I wasn’t laying in a hospital bed. I cried and cried. My heart was broken physically and emotionally.
You can be “with” someone and still be utterly lonely. That was a pivotal moment and I realized that the choice for change was mine. I could choose to stay in a loveless marriage with a person who didn’t care about me and live the rest of my life lonely. Or I could be alone and be happy. I chose the latter.
During this period of my life, I didn’t share what I was going through with anyone because I felt so much shame around my heart disease diagnosis and my failed marriage. I had so much fear around judgement from my family and friends, that I fought my battle alone. It wasn’t until I had the courage to share what I was going through, that I found strength in numbers with the American Heart Association. I discovered there were others just like me, fighting the same battle against heart disease.
I hope you’ll join me in the fight against heart disease and loneliness. “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” – John F. Kennedy
Happy the App is a national supporter of the American Heart Association’s Support Network. For every individual caller referred by the American Heart Association from June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2021, Happy will donate a free first call valued at $24 to the American Heart Association’s Support Network, for a minimum donation of $50,000.