Almost immediately after writing the previous post about my stress in the deep woods, I lay down in my happy spot on the back porch to meditate. Hummingbirds swept in, back and forth less than two away from the cot I lay on covered with a hand sewn quilt. The Mama Morning Dove was feeding her babies above me in the nest amidst the vines of the clematis. Molly plopped down beside me looking as pretty as always in full stretch with the white fluffy expanse of her belly for show… Birds gently tweeted in the hedgerow beyond. I was enveloped with all the happy things that settle my soul. But all was not well, and hasn’t been for a long while.
Somethings not right. Why is my heart beating so fast? Breathe, just like you always do when you’re lost, ungrounded, thinking negative thoughts, when worries begin to overwhelm…breathe. Ten minutes in I’m alarmed. What is going on? My heart never, NEVER beats faster when I meditate, it steadies and slows.
But it is racing. I’ve been in my favorite place in the woods but was stressed all week. I had often put my hand over my heart and rubbed it. One night by the fire I said to Samuel, “If something happens to me, it’s my heart.”
He just looks at me and nods his head slightly. He is aware of my history; a father who fell over dead in front of me at age 45 from a massive heart attack. A brother at 52 from the same, pulling off the highway then dying. And three others still living who have had extensive heart surgeries; one a triple by-pass, another a quadruple by-pass, and the third had stents twice.
So when I meditated and my heart rate increased, accompanied with the steady pain in my chest for the past two weeks, I became alarmed. After only 10 minutes I had to get up feeling very scared. My hand hovered over the phone. Call my cardiologist and try to get in sooner than my August appointment, or call 911 for the ambulance?
911 won out. They arrive with the sirens on and I feel torn between silliness and need. Somethings not right. Is it my heart or my emotions over the stresses from the past months? Am I allowing anxiety to rule or has my heart attack finally come. With my family history the question isn’t if but when.
The attendant comforted me with his kindness and experience. I’d hoped he rule out the need to go, but he had me chew up some aspirin and off we go. My heart rate increased along with my blood pressure and terror.
I was admitted into the Observation Unit and this morning had a nuclear stress test. I felt sure it would kill me. When my brother Seth had a stress test he went immediately to surgery for a quadruple by-pass. Was this my time?
I survived the test and it came back fine, though the high heart rate continued. A beta blocker was prescribed to keep my heart rate down and increase the strength of my heart.
Comforted by being home, I went to the gardens and watered them as the sun lay low in the sky warming me. The parsley had seeded so I sat on the grass crumbling the seeds onto a plate saving them for next year. I felt good in all ways, back home at last.
The pain in my chest stopped today but but I am wary of its resurgence. It is not a new pain. In the past I have melted it away by meditating.
I underestimate the toll of the trauma of the gum surgery accompanied by my inability to cope with other things without tearing myself down. Some appreciation, care and attention must be shown to the ongoing challenges of living over 55 years with the permanent effects of PTSD and the repression of traumatic events. It takes energy to repress memories even though my psyche is doing it without my consciousness.
Living with the drain of these things in addition to my harsh thoughts takes its toll. An unbidden word repeatedly visits— Freak. Why do I have to be so different?
I can approach this humanly. I could beat myself up for going to the hospital because of anxiety and its effects on the body, or I can accept that anxiety does affect the body. Those are facts. Making that call for help was self-loving. Be gentle, go easy, ask for help, let it go…