For some reason, my recent development of heart issues has been hard for me to commit to writing. Perhaps immortalizing it in words makes it feel real. Too real. But I cannot talk about changing my live, moving, or anything else without acknowledging one of the major motivators.
A few days shy of Thanksgiving this past November, I sat down to eat dinner with my babies. I was tired, overwhelmed with circumstances in my life that were out of my control. Earlier in the day I guzzled down a pot of french press coffee because the day’s (the week’s, the year’s) demands were greater than I could handle. But by dinner time I was feeling better. Kirk wasn’t home from work yet, but I had snuck in a bubble bath during nap time and had reveled in a few quiet moments to journal and breathe.
As I took my first bite of dinner, I curiously noticed my heart racing. Picking up speed, it felt as though it was going to beat right out of my chest and the incessant beating lost its distinctive rhythm. Assuming it was an unusual (for me) panic attack, I tried deep breathing and smelling lavender oil. Instead, I became weak in the knees and hit the floor.
Alone with the girls and unable to think clearly, I tried calling my husband. No answer. He had left his day’s work at one hospital and was called to another to see an unusual patient, with whom he was currently working. Called my neighbor across the street and begged her to come help. In hindsight, I probably should have called an ambulance. In those moments of haywire heartbeats and weakening self, I truly thought I might die. Nothing I have experienced in life remotely prepared me for that feeling.
Thankfully, the neighbor was also a stay at home mom with a home daycare; she buckled my girls in her extra car seats and helped me get into the car. Kirk met us at the emergency room where they ran their usual battery of tests. Diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), I was assigned a heart monitor and sent home. I prayed and prayed that this was a fluke and would not happen again.
Exactly one month later, a few days before Christmas, I woke up in a determined mood. Determined to have a good day, to “choose joy.” After drinking some coffee, my yoga mat called and I engaged in some challenging yoga flow while the girls danced and played. My childhood background in gymnastics makes me particularly good at handstands, and it was while inverted that I felt my heart skip a beat, then the resuming beat resounded, like a boulder dropped in my chest.
Although this time it was not as big of a shock, I was still unsure of what to do. Remembering Kirk’s admonitions the previous time, I called 911 and a team of EMTs were sent over. By the time they reached the house, and as I saw the fire truck rounding the corner, my heart rate had slowed somewhat (from 250 BPM to somewhere over 100), and I was embarrassed. Tried sending them away but they insisted on checking me over. Thankfully, they stayed because my stubborn heart kicked into overdrive once more. This time it wasn’t slowing, and they gave me Adenosine by IV push, telling me that I would feel my heart stop completely then restart.
For a moment I felt death in my limbs and then my heartbeat returned.
Five weeks later, and I’m still waiting. Immediately following this last event, my days were filled with fear, with wide-eyed anticipation of another attack. But time has softened those feelings, and I’m trying to trust that I cannot control what happens with my heart, but I can control the way I react to it.
This blog is about simple living, about streamlining life to reach a point of intentional, contented living. Yes, I can get rid of most of belongings, sell my house, and pursue my dreams. But it means nothing if I do not simplify the matters of my heart and seek true peace with my journey. I’m taking this all moment by moment and day by day. Realizing that at some point (whether tomorrow or at age 95) my life will come to an end has suddenly given me a new found permission to find joy and love in the everyday mundane.
We are all in control of the measures of our own lives, and it is up to each one of us to decide what to do with our short time on earth.
I am choosing joy over fear. Freedom over the weight of stuff. Trust and love rather than crippling stress. And for these insights, I would not wish away the way my physical heart has profoundly affected the true matters of my heart.