I love having goals. I like the hope that is wrapped in purposed intentions declared as a fresh year introduces itself. This year as 2020 was arriving, the thought of improvement in health and temperament were on my list, along with a few bucket list items to knock off.
I started the year off with three eggs cooked in EVOO and a large black coffee. We had one last Christmas event to celebrate, so I was teaching Jordon and Emma how to properly wrap presents. A quiet morning with things to do, but the ease of a holiday, seemed the perfect start to this new year. And in a moment, that peaceful morning disappeared into a whirlwind of chaos.
Sharp pain entered my arm at an intensity accentuated by its unexpected arrival. The pain intense enough to shoot me from my chair. As I grabbed my arm, Jonesy noticed the grimace on my face.
“Babe, you alright?”
As I walked into the next room a heaviness in my chest seemed to catch my breath. I walked into the kitchen, reaching into the recesses of my mind for breathing techniques. I took deep breaths in and out. With each breath, a coldness entered my arms and my fingers went numb as my heart began beating so rapidly I felt faint. Noah reached over and touched my pulse and then ran to call 911. Jonesy went to get aspirin and there was none. So he charged Emma with calling my friend Ann, who lives several houses down to see if she had aspirin on hand.
I had a great urge to go to sleep. I sat on the couch, reclining back,trying to remember to breathe.
The paramedics arrived and quickly went to work. Cuffed for blood pressure assessment, I was given four baby aspirin. They lifted my shirt and began placing stickers all over. I asked Jonesy to remove the children from the room. I was not sure what was happening, but I knew if I was going to die, I didn’t want my children’s last visual of me to include my exposed, less than perky breasts. My blood pressure was high. Extremely high for me. There were a lot of questions, most I could answer. My one question, could I go to sleep?
The cuff on my arm squeezed. My blood pressure was going down, but still much higher than my typical read of 110/60. I was going to the hospital,
As they placed me in the ambulance, Bob, the paramedic, continued to ask me questions. My brain felt cottony and the pressure in my chest tightened. I heard him say, “Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth.” He placed nitroglycerin under my tongue and put a cannula to my nose. He called out an extremely low blood pressure number. My body went cold. I heard, “We’re upgrading her to….” I couldn’t hear what else he said, but I heard sirens begin to wail and the speed increased.
I don’t remember much of anything else. I recall cold air and a blast of light, which I am sure was me leaving the ambulance. And when I woke up next, I was in a hospital room hooked to machines, a hospital gown on and a pic line in my left arm. The heart monitor showing a steady 117/70.
For four hours I lay there, the continuous ￼ hum of the blood pressure cuff tightening and releasing in steady increments, yet never telling the story of what happened at home. The only sign of the morning, being the tightness that remained in the left side of my chest, large bruises of failed attempts to find blood vessels to tap into and a fatigued agitation that has yet to leave the deep recesses of every joint in my body.
“We can admit you so a cardiologist can see you sometime tonight or you can go home and see the cardiologist at 10.” The doctor could find no explanation for what happened. I met none of the risk factors for heart disease. My pulse and blood pressure had remained steady and consistent the entire time I was in care. A cardiologist would likely want to run more tests, but as for what could happen at the ER, they had done all they could do except admit me. I opted, with approval, to go home.
A short consultation with a Cardiologist followed the next morning and a series of tests ordered to be done in the next few days would follow. There has been constant reassurance that there appears to be no heart damage. There is little concern for heart disease, I just don’t fit the criteria. There is no explanation for what happened, nor any for the strange agitation and numbness I continue to feel.
I like to have goals and the first day of 2020 altered the goals I had determined the last day of 2019. Now, I am resolved to slow down where I can. I want to sit with intention with my friends and family, instead of feeling hurried to move on to the next thing I feel compelled to complete. I realize my choice to stay busier than I should is mostly an attribute to an arrogant need to be in control of everything. The great irony is that episodes like the one on New Years Day are just a reminder that I am in control of nothing and no one. I don’t like it, but I acknowledge the need to accept it. I also realize that the one thing I can control–myself, is often the last thing I focus on.
It is with great frustration that I don’t know what is happening with my heart. Yet, I wonder if all this is an opportunity for me to examine the heart which does not pump, but instead steers my mind. I read with conviction Jeanne Harrison’s post on Mama Bear and abiding in trial as opposed to the faithless push to control. The idea of abiding is not a natural setting for me. I work. I lead. I fix. I open doors. I create. And with every I verb statement, I fail. Not in the traditional sense of the word, but instead I fail in living fully. I fail in living faithfully. I fail in dealing with the things I avoid by staying busy. I know I must patiently wait on doctors to determine what will happen with my heart. But, as I wait, I resolve to give my truest heart over to trusting more fully in the One it beats for.