There’s a reason we use the phrase ‘serious as a heart attack’. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and even those of us who make a living from laughs sometimes find it hard to joke about. For Rosie O’Donnell, a recent heart problem was so grim it prompted the brash comedian and talk show host to turn to poetry.
O’Donnell has penned a free-verse narrative about her recent heart attack, complete with abrupt line breaks and e.e. cummings-like lack of capitalization. A week after it happened, she reflected on her near-death experience – one that all started with a simple act of kindness.
Last week, after the 50-year-old O’Donnell helped “an enormous woman” out of her car at a shopping center in the New York suburb of Nyack, she was plagued with chest pains.
a few hours later my body hurt
i had an ache in my chest
both my arms were sore
everything felt bruised
Thinking it was just strained muscles from the heavy lifting, she went about her day but couldn’t shake the pain, she writes. Instead of seeking medical help, she did what many people do instead of going to the doctor: she hit Google.
maybe this is a heart attack
i googled womens heart attack symptoms
i had many of them
but really? – i thought – naaaa
O’Donnell took an aspirin (“saved by a tv commercial / literally”) but only sought a doctor’s attention a day later. Her cardiologist then revealed that her left anterior descending artery “was 99% blocked” — a condition that can so quickly lead to death it’s commonly referred to as the “widow maker”. After the diagnosis, she was admitted to the hospital, where doctors installed a stent to keep the artery open. “i am lucky to be here,” she wrote. Her poem concludes, “CALL 911 / save urself / xxx”.
It’s not the first time the former talk show host has resorted to verse. O’Donnell scribbled a dozen stanzas about her fiancée Michelle Rounds’ tumor diagnosis in early August. She even used verse to respond to a Lindsay Lohan dust-up earlier this year, answering to news reports that criticized her Today show comments about the struggling starlet.
Her representative did eventually issue a statement on the heart attack, but only after the blog was posted Monday. After all, what more was there to say? “She is now home and resting comfortably. She is very, very lucky,” rep Cindi Berger told People.