Shannon HennigShannon Hennig is a small business owner and health and wellness marketing expert.
Over the summer, she began experiencing serious fatigue, stiffness in her feet and legs, and chest pain and difficulty breathing. She tested negative for COVID-19, and was turned away at the ER after being told she had a chest cold.
In September, the 34-year-old was hospitalized for six days and given a diagnosis of congenital heart failure, a condition that primarily affects people ages 50 and up.
Hennig realized that being preoccupied with work, family, and worry over COVID-19, she'd overlooked her own physical wellness and pushed her symptoms aside as nothing serious.
Now, Hennig is working to improve her health, and cautions other working moms to check in with themselves more often to avoid making the same mistake.
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In the beginning of 2020, I was a busy 34-year-old entrepreneur and working mom, living with my husband and son in Calgary, Canada. I'd spent the last five years growing a consulting side gig into a thriving full time business, working with practitioners in the health and wellness industries on their branding and marketing.
I had a lot to be proud of. In my first year bringing in over six figures in revenue, and I was easily on track to do the same in 2020. I had big plans to scale, build a more effective sales funnel and hire a team to support me.
My goal was to increase revenue through building a signature program for private clients while also expanding my outreach to small business owners through an online teaching and coaching program. I hoped to begin working with hundreds of new clients.
One day in early September, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. with a distinctive gurgle in my chest.
It sounded and felt like the kind of thing you get when you're fighting a bad chest cold.
All summer long I'd been feeling more run down, and more tired than ever before. I'd had cold and flu-like symptoms since July and had gained 12 pounds over the previous two weeks. My legs and feet were constantly puffy and stiff, and I had a noticeable shortness of breath when I'd climb my stairs.
I described the level of fatigue to my husband as almost being "at a cellular level", and no amount of napping or taking it easy seemed to alleviate my exhaustion.
None of these symptoms made sense to me as I was active, eating a healthy diet and had lost 55 pounds over the previous year. During quarantine due to COVID-19, I'd prioritized my health the best I could and thought I was managing well.
Read more: I'm a 3-time CMO and 5-time ironman triathlete, but having a child is the hardest thing I've ever done
I was doing my best to navigate the realities of the pandemic and what it meant for my business, along with the challenge of my husband and I homeschooling our 6-year-old.
My busy daily routine began impacting my business in big ways. I no longer had the time to devote to client work and was struggling with deadlines that under normal circumstances had never been a problem. I also had no idea where I was going to find the time to teach my son.
In talking to peers and clients, it seemed like everyone was suffering from the same low level anxiety and exhaustion that I had. It wasn't as if I was alone and unique in the physical and mental toll of juggling all the balls, so I pushed my health to the side.
My time was being poured into creating the business of my dreams, but I didn't yet realize my lack of work-life balance was unsustainable.
Fast forward to that morning in September, and I knew that I needed to get help. I'd already been tested for COVID-19 and the results were negative, despite my symptoms matching those widely associated with the virus. I'd even been to the emergency department 10 days earlier complaining of the same issues, along with coughing up small amounts of blood, but was sent home and told that I had a chest cold.
In the emergency department, as I watched my blood pressure rise to deadly levels and my ability to breathe become less and less, I was given my diagnosis.
The doctor told me I had pulmonary edema, a condition where your lungs fill with fluid, and that I was in congestive heart failure.
There I was. A 34-year-old woman, sitting alone in the emergency department because COVID-19 visiting restrictions wouldn't allow my husband to be with me, being told that right now, right in this moment, my heart was failing and I was dying.
What followed next was a whirlwind of emergency treatment to open my blood vessels, slow my heart and get oxygen into my body. An IV flow of heparin, a blood thinner, and nitroglycerin (a medication that helps relax blood vessels and allow blood to flow more easily to the heart) stabilized me before I was moved to the cardiac intensive care unit.
I was hospitalized for six days, where I learned that my heart was pumping at less than half the volume that it should. Further diagnostics showed that the primary cause was high blood pressure that had been uncontrolled for too long.
As I came to terms with my diagnosis, I immediately turned to Google to find out more about what I was up against, and I was stunned to see that the symptoms of heart failure mimic many of those of COVID-19 including shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, fatigue and weakness, and persistent cough and chest pain. I went on to learn that congestive heart failure also can cause rapid weight gain from fluid retention, coughing up blood, and swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet.
Read more: Working moms are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Here are 3 ways leaders can foster a supportive culture for working parents, according to a LinkedIn VP
I'd had symptoms of heart failure through the summer, but I was too busy with my business and worrying about COVID-19 to think of anything else.
After a round of tests including an Echocardiogram and a cardiac MRI I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is a weakening or thickening of the heart muscle to the point where it can't pump blood properly.
When it's not being treated through medication, stress management, nutrition, and exercise, it can progress to advanced heart failure.
According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed, but as many as 1 in 500 adults in the United States may be living with the condition. When it's not being treated through medication, stress management, nutrition, and exercise, it can progress to advanced heart failure.
I knew that I had to completely reevaluate all aspects of my life if I was going to move forward.
Hennig on the day before hospital admission and six days later after being discharged. In two weeks after being hospitalized, she lost 27 pounds of water and fluid build-up.
The stress of business ownership, motherhood, and COVID-19 had pushed me to the verge of utter collapse. I had many of the risk factors for cardiomyopathy but had no idea that this disease could affect someone my age with such deadly consequences.
Since my diagnosis, I've made changes to better balance my work and family obligations and be more in tune with what my body is trying to tell me. To other busy working parents during this time, I encourage you to check in with your own physical and mental health just as you do with your loved ones, so you don't miss a life-threatening diagnosis like I almost did.
Shannon Hennig is a freelance writer and health and wellness marketing professional. She is the president of OpenInk Solutions, of company that helps health and wellness professionals to build their personal brands and become thought thought leaders in industries. Follow her on Twitter.
Restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday filed for bankruptcy after closing one-third of its locations this year.It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 7 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware after a troubled year was worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. Stay at home orders and capacity restrictions hit Ruby Tuesday and other casual chains hard, many of which were already struggling. At least nine other chains have also filed for bankruptcy this year, including California Pizza Kitchen and the US arm of Le Pain Quotidien.CEO Shawn Lederman said that this is not the end of Ruby Tuesday, but instead "an opportunity to reposition the company for long-term stability."Here's how the chain went from a single restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee where it is today. The first Ruby Tuesday was opened by 21 year old Sandy Beall in 1972, right next to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he was a student. University of Tennessee.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Source: The New York Times
As a student, Beall managed three Pizza Hut franchises. When the owner had a heart attack, he sold the restaurants and gave Beall $10,000 in Pizza Hut stock, telling him to start his own business A Pizza Hut location, which is owned by Yum Brands Inc, is pictured ahead of their company results in Pasadena, California, U.S., July 11, 2016.
The first restaurant, now closed, was a "burger and beer joint" according to the New York Times. Foodbeast
A fraternity brother and investor suggested the name Ruby Tuesday, after the Rolling Stones song. In this March 24, 2016 file photo, members of The Rolling Stones, from left, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and Ron Wood pose for photos from their plane at Jose Marti international airport in Havana, Cuba.
Ramon Espinosa File via AP
Beall also visited New York City to get ideas and look at potential competition, including TGI Fridays. TGI Fridays.
John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Over the first few years, Beall opened restaurants at a rate of one every nine months. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
In 1982, Beall sold the chain to Morrison Restaurants Inc, a cafeteria and food service chain, for $15 million, and remained in charge. Ruby Tuesday.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File
Source: The New York Times, Ruby Tuesday
Ruby Tuesday had more than 300 units by 1996, when parent company Morrison Restaurants Inc. split into three separate entities, one of which was Ruby Tuesday Inc, still headed by Beall. Ruby Tuesday.
Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Source: Nation's Restaurant News, The New York Times
In 2000, Ruby Tuesday Inc sold all of the other restaurant chains under the brand, leaving room to focus on building more Ruby Tuesdays. Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
By the time it turned 30 in 2002, Ruby Tuesday was the seventh largest casual dining restaurant chain in the US. Despite spending little on advertising it was competing with big names like Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse. Rachel Askinasi/Insider
Source: Restaurant Hospitality
At that point, Ruby Tuesday specialized in large portions for inexpensive meals with a strategy of "We Feed America for Under $10." In 2001, the average lunch check was $9, and the average dinner bill was $12. Ruby Tuesday/Facebook
In 2007, just before the recession, Ruby Tuesday underwent a total redesign to a more upscale look, away from "roller skates on the wall and the bad food," Beall said. By 2009, the company had spent more than $100 million on the upgrades, including serving higher end food and offering a wider wine selection. Ruby Tuesday menu.
Source: The New York Times
Ruby Tuesday had the misfortune of attempting to upgrade into a more formal and expensive dining experience just as the recession hit stores across the board, and competitors fought to offer the best deals. In 2008, the chain closed more than 50 locations. A close sign is seen in the parking lot of a closed business as Ohio implements phase one of reopening dentists, veterinarians and elective surgeries in Columbus, Ohio.
In 2012, Ruby Tuesday had 896 restaurants and 43,000 employees, with stock prices slowly rising, it looked like a potential comeback. That year, Beall stepped down. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
In 2017, Ruby Tuesday was acquired by private equity firm NRD for $2.40 per share, or about $335 million. NRD Capital.
Then in 2020, Ruby Tuesday was not spared by COVID-19 and lockdowns. David J. Phillip/AP Photo
In August, Business Insider reported that Ruby Tuesday had closed more than one-third of its restaurants, leaving a total 298 still open. Reporter Irene Jiang noted that the chain's prospects didn't look good even before the pandemic, going through five CEOs in five years. Ruby Tuesday.
Source: Business Insider
Business Insider also reported that Ruby Tuesday suddenly stopped paying pensions in July to more than 100 retirees before declaring insolvency on September 2. Ruby Tuesday.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Source: Business Insider
On October 7, the chain announced it had filed for bankruptcy. Ruby Tuesday says it will continue business as usual, though the filing said that more closures could be coming soon. Ruby Tuesday.
Samantha Lee/Business Insider
Source: Business Insider
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