When she was 50 years old, Rosie O’Donnell left a medical appointment with her wife, who was undergoing treatment for cancer. As they left the hospital, the two of them helped lift a morbidly obese woman who’d become stuck in her car. Upon returning home with her wife, Rosie felt “as though a bear had grabbed both of my arms and ripped out the muscle.”
They hurt, but the pain wasn’t radiating into her chest,
neck, or jaw.
Rosie actually visited her therapist at first, thinking she was having a physical reaction to the emotional distress of helping the overweight woman. She’d identified with the woman because, as she says in “A Heartfelt Stand Up,” which aired on HBO in February, “I understand the shame of being overweight in America.” Rosie is not alone, since obesity is one of the top issues facing America. Her therapist sent her home, thinking that Rosie was having a panic attack. Instead, she was having a heart attack, and it almost killed her.