How is your new beginning working out for you so far? Good? Bad? Not entirely sure? ☺
That’s alright, I’ve got a Bugler issue here that meets you wherever you’re at with New Years “Resolutions”.
This month is focused on hearts. Everything to do about them. The chocolate kind, the balloon kind, the beating kind inside your chest. It’s time for us to be inundated with the overabundance of pinks, reds and fluffy rabbits dressed in cupid costumes. Don’t ask on that one, I really have no idea.
Usually, most people associate February with Valentine’s Day, with good reason – it’s February 14th and falls on a Wednesday this year. But did you also know that it’s National Heart Healthy Month? A trend that is catching more attention with each passing year, and each passing heart attack or stroke victim.
This subject hits a nerve with me. Maybe it does with you as well. It lands a little close to the painful reminder of my mama’s death, and also my all-too-personal encounter with the inside of the emergency room cardiology unit.
If I could grimace here, I would. But you wouldn’t be able to see my face. I’m told it’s quite the picture to behold when I manage to express my complete distaste in one of my infamous grimace frowns. My children know it well, as do the ER nurses and doctors working that day at the Hospital.
But I digress. Let’s give you some backstory first and set the stage for my surprise arrival into the ER.
As many working mothers throughout the world, I had a life full of stress. Three small children, a failing marriage and more financial woes than notes on a musical score. It’s fair to say that stress was extremely high.
Multiple therapists warned me over the course of about four years that if I didn’t change life styles, or address the stressors in my life, I would “end up with a heart attack” or “in the hospital”.
Being a stubborn woman, I poo-poo’d their concerns and let them know that I would be able to handle my life just fine, thank you very much. (Sound like someone you know?)
Stress causes cortisol, which in turn causes weight retention. I packed on the pounds and was soon looking at the scale shouting that 40 pounds of additional “me” had found their way to stick to my bird-like small bones.
Enter strange “racing heart” symptoms and “what feels like an extra beat” into my awareness. Soon, these occurrences became so frequent that I began keeping a log of the “extra beats”, when they happened and what seemed to trigger them.
Stressful arguments, situations or even hard work caused triggering for me. Before long, I was having upwards of 30+ “extra beats” per minute. The experience caused me to feel like I had to “catch my breath”, or press on my chest to calm my heart down. (Yes, yes, I know. This should have been a huge indicator for someone so ‘in the know’ about health factors….I mentioned I was stubborn, right?)
One afternoon, I was feeling particularly ill with the “extra beats”, and when I stood up from the couch, almost immediately passed out. Combined with not being able to catch my breath, I sagged back onto the couch and calmly told my children to call their dad. He came home and we immediately went to the hospital. On the drive there, I again almost passed out, and again in the emergency room as I was being wheeled in.
Let me tell you, friends, that when someone comes into the ER and says “chest pain and passing out”, they spring into action. I was immediately whisked to the back, plugged into a plethora of electrodes and whatnots, and told to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. I just wanted to cry because I thought I was dying of a heart attack, and kept thinking I didn’t want to die.
Final diagnosis: massive heart palpitations due to stress. Need to remove.
Solution: focus on removing stress and other triggers from my life.
That was a major wake up call. Thus began my journey toward a healthier “me”. One that would remain palpitation free and more aware of life’s stressors and how to combat them.
I lost the weight, am down to a size that I hadn’t seen since high school, and the palpitations rarely rear their ugly head. Enter more laughing, more ‘fun’, more stress relieving activities, and for lack of a better word, “finding myself” again, with God at the helm.
Is my experience causing you to ask yourself some wake-up call questions? Good. See to it, my friend.
Until next month,
Publisher / Editor