When being tired is serious

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When a working mother of eight says she's tired, that may not seem surprising. In Cynthia Essex's case, exhaustion was more than part of life; it was actually a symptom of something serious, a condition that nearly ended her life.

Just like she does every weekend, Cynthia woke up one Sunday morning, planning to go to church, "And I told my husband, 'I just don't feel good.' And I decided to just press my way and go to church."

About an hour into the service, Cynthia felt so bad, she decided to go home, "And I'm walking in the hallway to go out the door, and the last thing I remember was waving to one of the security people."

Cynthia collapsed

"I could hear my husband calling my name," Cynthia says, "But I couldn't answer. And the next thing I could hear was sirens."

Those sirens- the ambulance about to take her to the emergency room. It was not a heart attack, but it was a serious problem with Cynthia's heart.

"I had an enlarged heart, so it wasn't a heart attack. It was more of an attack on the heart. When your heart is enlarged the valves don't seal properly, like they're supposed to."

She was shocked, "I don't know if it was always there. I don't know when it started. They don't know."

Long before she woke up feeling bad that Sunday morning, Cynthia was having symptoms. She was tired all of the time.

"So my symptoms would just be the symptoms of a working mom. I was tired, so I could explain that away," Cynthia adds, "I had trouble kind of breathing; but I have childhood asthma, so I could explain that away."

They're symptoms even Cynthia's doctor could attribute to the busy life of this working mother of eight kids.

"Maybe I wasn't resting as much as I needed to, but I do the things that women do. I take care of a family and I go to work," Cynthia says.

In that moment, when she learned just how serious her situation was, Cynthia realized she was more than tired. She had been exhausted, "So now you look back and you go, 'I was exahusted just coming up the stairs,' so it should have made sense, but it didn't."

While she is not certain if her condition is hereditary, Cynthia wants her children to learn from this experience, "So I tell the daughters, "That exhaustion thing, if that hits you, take that serious.'"

The most important lesson Cynthia wants to share is to be grateful, just to be alive, "I wake up every morning and I the first thing I say is, 'Thank you, Jesus, for letting me wake up again.'"

Cynthia is now a motivational speaker and author.

Her book, called "Learning to Stand Tall in the Face of Life's Adversities", is available at Amazon.com and on Cynthia's website, cynthiaessex.com.

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