February is Heart Month, and it gives us the opportunity to not only talk about heart health, but hear other people’s own stories. On National Wear Red Day, the Rogers County Sherriff’s Office shared a story that told the side of living with heart disease from a spouse’s perspective. It begins, “The following is a fairy tale.” Told through the lens of Major Coy Jenkins, it is a story that sheds light on the reality that heart disease can strike when you least expect it.
“I was just sitting here one morning and felt a little funny,” Vernon Sander, 71, recalls of a day in the spring of 2010 that didn’t begin like most. Enjoying retirement, Vernon and his wife were just a few weeks away from an anticipated trip to Europe. When he became nauseous, Vernon says a strong feeling came over him. “I told my wife, ‘I’m having a heart attack.’ Why I knew, I don’t know.”
Heart disease doesn’t have a “look.” If it did, Master Sergeant Chris Clifton, 42, certainly wouldn’t fit the description. Last October, his unit – the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron with the 138th Fighter Wing of the Tulsa Air National Guard – was scheduled to deploy to Japan. Clifton had given up his spot, so that a younger airman could gain that experience. That meant he was home to complete his upcoming annual physical training test required by the Air Force. “I was feeling good that morning,” he recalls.