February is a month full of fun festivities, national holidays and important reminders of our incredible history. It is also the one month out of the year reserved as American Heart Month. Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. The good news, though, is it can be prevented and managed appropriately. By focusing our attention on the staggering statistics regarding our nation’s heart health, it provides us with added opportunity to reassess our own mission to health and safety and ensuring we deliver on our commitment that, “every day, everybody goes home alive and well.”
One of our nurses is no stranger to issues of the heart and has a unique passion for American Heart Month.
Haley Campbell, occupational health nurse at Aera Energy for almost two years, was born with a congenital heart defect. She had her first open heart surgery before most of us said our first words. By age 13, she had a second surgery to replace a valve and things seemed on the upturn after that. However, when Haley was 38, she began struggling with persistent headaches and her nurse senses told her something was seriously wrong.
“I just knew it. I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t function,” she remembered.
After a visit with her doctor she was immediately sent to the hospital where they discovered a severe brain bleed. Thankfully, after a successful brain surgery, she made a full recovery, though the scar on her head is a constant reminder of a very scary time.
Only a short year later, life tried to knock her down yet again. Haley, wife and mother of a young son, blacked out suddenly while exercising on the treadmill. She was told that the heart valve she received at 13 was now too small for her. It made sense to her that after 26 years, the artificial heart valve no longer fit her grown heart and body. She underwent a very high-risk, third heart surgery.
Campbell recovered quickly, thanks in part to her devotion to physical fitness. She says it took a toll on her in every way possible, but she was a fighter and she wasn’t giving up now.
“I just decided I needed to do something different. I changed everything after that.”
She credits eating healthy and staying consistent with her fitness routine for giving her mental clarity, sustained energy and her overall health.
Now healthy and strong, Haley offers this bit of advice, “Prioritize your health. Don’t ignore things that are wrong. Put yourself at the top of the list so you can be at your best to care for your friends, family and those that depend on you.”
She uses her role as a nurse at Aera to help and encourage her colleagues to do just that.
“I just believe that people deserve to feel well and healthy,” said Campbell.