HEART STRESS

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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…

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21 thoughts on “HEART STRESS

  1. Yes, the repercussions of long term trauma include a lot of wear and tear on the body. In particular, with your family history, listening to the warning signs about your heart seems like the wise thing to do. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How terrifying! I’m so glad you called 911 and so glad you’re okay. It’s vital to take heart issues seriously.

    What a toll PTSD and related symptoms take on us. What a toll.

    I have often felt like my heart was breaking. So far, tears are what mends it but I won’t hesitate to go to emergency if there is any question. My family has a history of heart issues. Thank goodness you took yourself seriously enough to check it out. That’s huge.

    I love the kitty photo! What a darling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My dear friend you were on my mind this morning because I was reflecting on your need to reach out and I awoke to find your post. Our lives seem somehow interwoven and we’re following a similar path. That we can share like this across the pond is a little miracle for me.

    Patricia, my latest post (to be published this evening GMT) I talk briefly about my acceptance that I will not recover from the trauma. But I can find moments of joy. Somehow when I acknowledge the toll the trauma takes on my life and acknowledge too that I cannot wave a magic wand and be “whole again”… somehow that relieves my burden. I even say, perhaps provocatively, that Recovery is not possible!

    Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so behind on posts, but I will surely look for it, my friend, my sage.

      Acceptance, yes. There are things broken that will not be as they once were as a little girl making sand-castles in the sand with a sucker in her mouth. A skinny little girl with blonde hair and a forever smile…before the first attack. Before my father died and his sons went berserk. I can’t make it better or easier for the adolescent, teenager, young woman, older woman or ever.
      I revisit acceptance as it has been my biggest hurdle, or one of them. When acceptance came, that I can’t go back and have another start, that I can’t be somebody else, when acceptance came, the peace did too.
      It is elusive though. I find myself still wishing at times…

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    1. I am very much better this morning! Thank you so much. Molly would love you too. She is a people cat, big time!
      You should have seen her around the ambulance squad, “What are you doing to my person?” and “Will you pet me?”

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  4. I’m proud of you for going the hospital!For getting the care you needed. It’s important to do that, don’t you think? And I relate to that constant question: is this real? Or is it my emotions? When real things happen as trauma and we aren’t protected we doubt our instincts and it’s so hard to know. I’m learning it’s okay to not know, to say — “I think this is real but my childhood trauma leaves me wondering and second guessing.” If we are with good caregivers they will always say, “It’s okay not to know. Let me help you figure it out.” I had my own doctor do this for me recently when we talked about my thyroid. It was such a relief to be cared for appropriately and I was so proud of myself for speaking up and relieved that he met me with compassion and good care. Keep up the gentle loving work. You inspire me. XO

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    1. Oh Jessica. You say the right words. So true. My son and husband constantly reassured me that I was doing the right thing. I so needed to hear that. And poor Samuel said it even as he had to sit in that hard chair next to me all day!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. OH that’s hard!
          But it must be so beautiful there. Like you!
          We put so much pressure on ourselves.
          You’ve prepared your body. The rest is cake. Have fun power woman. It is only you and the old tapes that are fearful. Time to toss them behind you as you run.
          Fun, joy, and freedom. You are already a success. This doesn’t define you, a pass/fail, a win/lose. You already won with the preparing, the journey there. Who could do that but a select few? You are already a winner.

          Liked by 1 person

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