I was flipping through my Facebook feed a few weeks ago and saw a slightly blurry picture of a beautiful woman on a treadmill. I’ve shared the photo with you above so that you can hopefully see what I did. There was something about her smile and the happiness dancing in her eyes. She had a look about her like she was ready for an adventure and her demeanor is not just inviting you to go with her, but daring you to. My eyes then glanced at the text above the photo in the Facebook feed: “Who would have known my mom had open heart surgery 6 months ago! Amazing.”
I nearly fell out of my chair and I had to know more. I asked my friend if she would mind bringing her mother in for a little bit of well-deserved pampering at Salon Khouri so that I could talk to her and learn more about the woman behind the mischievous grin.
Minu is 66 years old. She’s been battling high blood pressure for over thirty years. Over the last several years, she has been struggling with bouts of severe depression. During a visit to her cardiologist in 2012, it was discovered that her left main artery was 98% blocked. The scan also revealed that her aorta was about to tear. This came as a complete shock to Minu and her family. Quick to take action, the family met with the Medical Director of Cardiac Surgery of Inova Fairfax Hospital, Dr. Alan Speir, who soon after performed open heart surgery on Minu to save her life. During recovery, both of Minu’s lungs completely collapsed and Minu was placed in ICU where she fought for her life. But, as you may have noticed from Minu’s grin, she’s a fighter. Just six days later, Minu was on a path to recovery and was released soon after. She began cardiac rehab sessions every other day for three months, and now visits for follow-ups, and to show off her amazing shape!
A gift that Minu serendipitously received from having the surgery is that her depression is now almost subsided. We both chatted about the possibility of the lack of proper blood flow that could have been a major contributor to her depression. I asked her what she now does to remain healthy and she proudly replied that she exercises thirty minutes a day and lifts light weights to keep her heart and body in shape.
As you may know, February is heart awareness month. Last February, we launched a “color for hearts” campaign at Salon Khouri, donating $5 from every hair color to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women fund which we are again doing this year. I fell in love with Minu — her passion, her warmth, her teasing smile and playful eyes. We have nominated her as our role model for women’s heart awareness. Her story is remarkable and her determination is absolutely something that we can all be encouraged by.
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co-owner, Salon Khouri